Drama? What drama? Not only did Taylor Swift get to perform a medley of some of her biggest hits at the American Music Awards Sunday night, she also nabbed six awards, including artist of the decade — officially breaking Michael Jackson’s record for most AMA wins ever with 29.
All eyes were on Swift this year to see if she would make a statement regarding her much-publicized battle with the owners of her master recordings, Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, after she claimed that they tried to block her AMAs performance. But she made no reference to the feud, instead opting for a drama-free, celebratory night.
Her performance highlighted hits both past and present, including “The Man,” “Love Story,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “Blank Space.” Camila Cabello and Halsey joined her to sing “Shake It Off” and ballet dancer Misty Copeland danced on stage as Swift concluded the performance with “Lover.”
Following the medley, Swift accepted her artist of the decade award from Carole King.
“All that any artist wants is to create something that lasts,” Swift said as her mom and dad watched from the audience, adding, “All that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with the fans, over the years.”
While Swift dominated the night, it was also a big event for newer artists, like Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X. Eilish nabbed her first AMA awards, for best alternative rock artist and new artist of the year, and delivered her first AMA performance — a fiery rendition of “all the good girls go to hell.”
Lil Nas X won favorite song rap/hip-hop for “Old Town Road.”
Halsey also won her first AMA, favorite pop/rock song for “Without Me,” and delivered what Swift later deemed the night’s best speech.
In what could be perceived as a reference to her recent Grammys snub, she said that as a kid she used to believe in the “fairy tale” of awards, but as she’s gotten older, she’s realized most awards “really aren’t what they seem.” But she praised the AMAs for being voted on by fans.
“Sometimes you grow up and the stuff that you believed in starts to lose its magic, but music never does,” she said.
And as always, the ceremony was packed with musical performances.
Selena Gomez, who opened the show with her two new songs, started in black-and-white with “Lose You to Love Me,” and transitioning into color with “Look at Her Now.”
Lizzo, who took to the red carpet with a meme-worthy tiny purse, wowed the crowd with a powerful and emotionally raw rendition of her new song, “Jerome.”
Camila Cabello got to hit the stage three times. In addition to joining her pal Swift, she performed the AMA-winning “Senorita” with boyfriend Shawn Mendes and debuted her new song, “Living Proof.”
We also got treated to throwback moments courtesy of Toni Braxton, who took the stage to sing “Unbreak My Heart” 25 years after winning her first AMA; Green Day rocked out in celebration of their album Dookie’s 25th anniversary; Kesha delivered a surprise bonus performance of her debut hit “Tik Tok”; and Shania Twain closed out the show with a medley of her hits.