Welp, the 2012 American Music Awards just happened. That was fun, right? No, seriously, we’re asking because our brains have been reduced to quivering puddles of goo and we’re not exactly sure what we just witnessed other than the most whirlwind, overblown three hours in pop music. Did they even leave the nominees’ names onscreen long enough for viewers to read them? Did the songs in the medleys even make it through to the chorus before switching to the next hit? We can’t know for sure.
What we do know is that a few performances cut through the fog. Pink basically stole the show with a daring live re-creation of her impeccably choreographed “Try” video. The performance was as ballsy as it was beautiful and should be the most talked-about moment of the broadcast. And yet, we have a feeling PSY‘s collaboration with MC Hammer may steal her thunder. Then again, if that’s the last time we have to subject ourselves to “Gangnam Style,” then we suppose it’s just about the best way to go out, the viral equivalent of a Viking funeral.
Taylor Swift, meanwhile, won Favorite Female Country Artist, but there was nothing twangy about her “I Knew You Were Trouble” performance. She took us to a baroque dubstep ball, and like a true pop star, she even did a mid-song costume change. Speaking of costume changes — Christina Aguilera went from Lotus flower to mobile home mademoiselle in a completely bonkers medley that featured all kinds of ogle-worthy trailer trash glamour. Also? We’re pretty sure she joined Pitbull for literally one note in his performance of “Feel This Moment.”
Justin Bieber‘s performance showed him as a consummate professional, demonstrating his sensitive crooner side and his dance commander swag. (By the way, on “Beauty And A Beat,” we wondered if Nicki Minaj was going to change that “Selena” line. She didn’t. Draw your own conclusions.)
Not every performance was an all-consuming visual extravaganza, though. Stevie Wonder gave a touching Dick Clark tribute, and Kelly Clarkson let her vocals do most of the work for her career-spanning medley. But several performers sounded like they were struggling up there, despite the preponderance of maxed-out backing tracks. The trend started right away, when Usher kicked off the show with a typically Usher-ian spectacle that sounded as if it were coming from the bottom of a well. A handful of other acts seemed to be suffering from the soundstage’s bad acoustics (not to name names, but, well, we weren’t blown away by Carrie Underwood).
Believe it or not, some actual awards were handed out in between setting up and tearing down performance set-pieces. In a somewhat shocking development, Rihanna came out with just one trophy despite leading the field with four nominations. She won for Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and it wasn’t even shown on the broadcast. Meanwhile, Minaj went home with two awards out of four (but when she came out dressed as the abominable snow-woman for a yawn-inducing rendition of “Freedom,” that essentially canceled out her one-trophy edge over RiRi).
The biggest shocker of the night, though, had to be Carly Rae Jepsen besting One Direction for New Artist Of The Year. 1D’s fans may have a name, but Carly’s turned out at the polls. In fact, 1D was shut out altogether in their three nominations. What’s going on, Directioners?
While 1D was winless, Bieber was undefeated. He was the man of the night, nabbing all three trophies he was up for, including Artist Of The Year. In his first acceptance speech, Bieber took on those faceless, nameless “haters,” and for his last speech he brought up his date for the night, Mama Bieber. It was a perfectly reasonable, humanizing way to close out the show. Which is exactly why it didn’t close out the show, and PSY and MC Hammer horse-dancing in genie pants did.