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Arts and Entertainment

The 2017 American Music Awards: Hit or miss? Everything you need to know

The 2017 American Music Awards, hosted on Nov. 19 at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, aimed to make this year’s show a historic one. Did they succeed? There were various groundbreaking elements that enhanced the show, but others that were hit or miss.   Jamie Foxx and his daughter took the first moments…
<a href="" target="_self">Annika Brandes</a>

Annika Brandes

November 22, 2017

The 2017 American Music Awards, hosted on Nov. 19 at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, aimed to make this year’s show a historic one. Did they succeed? There were various groundbreaking elements that enhanced the show, but others that were hit or miss.


  • Jamie Foxx and his daughter took the first moments of the show to address and thank hardworking first-responders involved in the recent mass shootings. Then, Pink and Kelly Clarkson took the stage to deliver a massive duet of R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts.”
  • Demi Lovato stunned, opening the show with her powerful anthem “Sorry Not Sorry.” Her performance referenced negative posts about her on social media but concluded with her glistening confidence.
  • Selena Gomez & Marshmello, Nick Jonas, Niall Horan and Shawn Mendes offered sleepy performances that didn’t live up to the heightened expectations for an awards show performance. Jonas’ and Gomez’s offered interesting visuals in terms of sets and color schemes, at least. However, their backup dancers endured the grunt work, delivering elaborate choreography around the singers without them actually contributing. Horan and Mendes relied too heavily on the fact that their songs were mega hits on the radio and the charts, offering a moment for the crowd to sing karaoke—not a performance for millions to watch.
  • Hailee Steinfeld, Florida Georgia Line, Alesso and Watt’s collaboration was definitely an unexpected one, but it hit for the most part. Florida Georgia Line’s efforts to crossover is reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s initial transition from country to pop; it was a safe attempt.
  • Viola Davis received a standing ovation as she shared a monologue for the 25th anniversary of “The Bodyguard” and the late great Whitney Houston as well as introducing Christina Aguilera’s uplifting medley of the movie’s iconic tracks. Aguilera’s vocals silenced the crowd and brought tears to the eyes of Houston’s family members in attendance.
  • Lady Gaga also couldn’t be present for the awards—a disappointing discovery for some awards-goers—but that didn’t stop her from sending love, performing “The Cure” live from her Washington D.C. stop of her Joanne World Tour. She also took home the award for Favorite Female Artist, accepting the award onstage and profusely thanking her Little Monsters.
  • Macklemore and Skylar Grey surprised the crowd with a fun, colorful performance of their duet “Glorious.” That and Macklemore’s peach suit helped to liven up the atmosphere, giving it the little oomf it needed entering the second half of the show.
  • Portugal. The Man’s quirky performance of their breakout hit “Feel It Still” gave the crowd funky, psychedelic visuals and gave the show a comedic element, advertising free drinks to be handed out on Wilshire Blvd after the show.
  • Alessia Cara and Zedd’s remix of their single “Stay” took a classical turn, with Zedd playing the piano accompanied by a string ensemble. What was a catchy, energetic tune that took over this past summer was transformed into an elegant ballad highlighting the urgency of its lyrics.
  • Imagine Dragons and Khalid delivered the performance of the night, mashing up the respective artists’ hits “Thunder” and “Young, Dumb & Broke.” Decorated with confetti and fire effects, it was definitely a highlight of the night. The unexpected collaboration added originality and creativity that the show was lacking beforehand.
  • Linkin Park rightfully won the award for Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock, accepted by remaining members Mike Shinoda, Rob Bourdon and Brad Delson. The award was dedicated to the late Chester Bennington. It was an award that was well-deserved, complementing the ongoing theme of recognizing those who made a difference in their fields.
  • Pink’s acrobatic performance of her new single “Beautiful Trauma” was a stunning feat. Flying several floors high on the side of the adjacent JW Marriott, both the song and the stunts were mesmerizing, and the strength of Pink’s vocals solidified her performance as one for the history books.
  • Kelly Clarkson’s performance was commercial and out-of-place; she wasn’t nominated for any awards this year. The constant mention of her victory as “American Idol”’s first winner felt cheesy when coupled with the blatant ads for the show’s return on the ABC channel.
  • International superstars BTS delivered a stellar performance of their latest single “DNA,” It’s the first time a Korean group has performed on an American awards show, and it was the most choreographed (literally) and energetic of the night. Earlier this year, the group took home the Billboard Music Award for Top Social Artist—also the first time a Korean group has won one. Their performance was much-anticipated, as the crowd mostly consisted of ARMYs, the name of BTS’s fans. Going second to last, it was definitely a performance worth waiting for.
  • Diana Ross performed a lively medley of some of her greatest hits, including: “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me Higher,” “Ease Down the Road,” “Best Years of My Life,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Her performance was familial and heartfelt, with her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross hosting the show—the first time both mother and daughter have hosted the AMAs. A montage of her life and major accomplishments featured Oprah Winfrey, Lionel Richie, and the late Michael Jackson. The Obamas and Swift lent warm shoutouts to the superstar and her entire family joined on her onstage as she gleefully addressed the crowd.
  • Bruno Mars ended up taking home seven awards, including Artist of the Year and Video of the Year—the most of the night and one of the most to be won in a single ceremony. Mars won in all of the categories in which he was nominated. Although he couldn’t be present for the show, he thanked his fans, the Hooligans, from the backseat of a minivan.


Here’s the full list of award winners:

American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement

Diana Ross

Artist of the Year

Bruno Mars

The Chainsmokers


Kendrick Lamar

Ed Sheeran

New Artist of the Year

James Arthur

Niall Horan

Julia Michaels

Post Malone

Rae Sremmurd

Collaboration of the Year

“Closer” – The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey

“I’m the One” – DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber

“Don’t Wanna Know” – Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar

“Starboy” – The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk

Tour of the Year

Garth Brooks



Video of the Year

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee

“Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran

Favorite Male Artist – Pop/Rock

Bruno Mars


Ed Sheeran

Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock

Alessia Cara

Lady Gaga


Favorite Duo or Group – Pop/Rock

The Chainsmokers


Imagine Dragons

Favorite Album – Pop/Rock

24K Magic – Bruno Mars

More Life – Drake

Starboy – The Weeknd

Favorite Song – Pop/Rock

“Closer” – The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber

“Shape of You” – Ed Sheeran

Favorite Male Artist – Country

Sam Hunt

Thomas Rhett

Keith Urban

Favorite Female Artist – Country

Miranda Lambert

Maren Morris

Carrie Underwood

Favorite Duo or Group – Country

Florida Georgia Line

Little Big Town

Old Dominion

Favorite Album – Country

They Don’t Know – Jason Aldean

From A Room: Volume 1 – Chris Stapleton

Ripcord – Keith Urban

Favorite Song – Country

“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt

“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi

“Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban

Favorite Artist – Rap/Hip-Hop


Kendrick Lamar


Favorite Album – Rap/Hip-Hop

More Life – Drake

DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar

Culture – Migos

Favorite Song – Rap/Hip-Hop

“I’m the One” – DJ Khaled ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper and Lil Wayne

“HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar

“Black Beatles” – Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane

Favorite Male Artist – Soul/R&B

Bruno Mars

Childish Gambino

The Weeknd

Favorite Female Artist – Soul/R&B




Favorite Album – Soul/R&B

24K Magic – Bruno Mars

Awaken, My Love! – Childish Gambino

Starboy – The Weeknd

Favorite Song – Soul/R&B

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

“Location” – Khalid

“Starboy” – The Weeknd

Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock

Imagine Dragons

Linkin Park

twenty one pilots

Favorite Artist – Adult Contemporary

Bruno Mars

Shawn Mendes

Ed Sheeran

Favorite Artist – Latin

Daddy Yankee

Luis Fonsi


Favorite Artist – Contemporary Inspirational

Lauren Daigle


Chris Tomlin

Favorite Artist – Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

The Chainsmokers

DJ Snake

Calvin Harris

Top Soundtrack

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2



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