The American Music Awards awards are an anomaly -- they neither command the respect of the Grammys nor the pop-cultural cachet of the MTV VMAs. Yet, the AMAs are powerful enough to attract A-list pop acts like Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and One Direction to perform -- not to mention legends like Dave Grohl and Joan Jett to present -- while still having to settle for Pitbull, the most forgettable rapper in history, as host.

Haters are always gonna hate, and award shows are the easiest to hate on, especially one that has lasted 41 years without making a mark beyond its association with Dick Clark, the late "American Bandstand" boss whose cultural dominance outside of New Year's Eve peaked in the 1960s. I mean, the winners are voted on via Twitter. If it's just a social media popularity contest, then why even get offline in the first place?

For one, because watching a game Timberlake on acoustic guitar fronting his sprawling, spectacular Tennessee Kids big band is an undeniable pleasure in a world where MTV only plays music once a year and Much ditched its music moniker altogether.

Now is it easy to mock the AMAs for giving Macklemore and Ryan Lewis a best hip-hop album award? Sure, though was nice of them to namecheck Trayvon Martin as they accepted their prize via satellite from Miami, FL. Saying "we've got to fight against racism and the laws that protect it" is much preferable to thanking your attorney.

And is it ridiculous to present Rihanna with an Icon award at age 25? Heck yes, RiRi herself admitted onstage, "that is weird to even say out loud." But her ubiquity over the past decade, combined with her powerful rendition of "Diamonds," in a classy floor-length dress before a full orchestra, made it at least seem considered.

And while the AMAs lower rung on the pop cultural ladder was made clear by Jay-Z presenting her Icon award via video, it was made up for by having the in-person presenter be Rihanna's adorable mom. Even JT got up, after winning one of three awards, and asked, in his best faux-Barbadian accent, "Can we talk about how cute Rihanna's mom is?"

Should we be laughing at Lady Gaga's lame attempt to to stir up some controversy by celebrating the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination by dressing up as Marilyn Monroe with R Kelly as Kennedy while they duetted on her anti-girl power anthem "Do What U Want?" It was hardly a Miley moment.

Speaking of, Miss Cyrus stole the show (again) with an absurdist performance of "Wrecking Ball" that proved once and for all that she is well aware of how ridiculous the music business is and that she's playing us because it's, like, super fun. So rather than proving her vocal bona fides with a stripped-down set like she did on "SNL," Miley sang her emotionally overwrought smash with a gigantic kitten lip syncing along (and occasionally weeping diamonds) as winkingly terrible outer space special effects raced past on a green screen. Oh, and she came out in barely a bathing suit, also covered in kittens. Unlike Gaga, it was hilarious on purpose.

Backstage at the AMAs With Justin Timberlake, Dave Grohl, Harry Styles

Watch Miley perform in front of a screensaver of a lip-syncing space kitten

PHOTOS: The American Music Awards Red Carpet Is... Interesting

Katy Perry's AMAs Performance Sparks Controversy

Full American Music Awards Winners List

The whiplash just never ended on the AMAs. For every flop like Katy Perry's racially appropriating geisha routine to open the show -- which some are already calling racist -- there was J. Lo. doing an jaw-dropping Latin performance complete with showing off the still amazing Fly Girl moves that first made her famous two decades ago.

And while it's hard not to throw your shoe at the screen with Kendall Jenner presenting best electronic dance music track and Paulina Gretzky presenting Soul/R&B Male Artist of the Year, then Sarah Silverman comes onstage. "There are three amazing nominees for soul/R&B album tonight: one, a white kid from the Mickey Mouse Club, another the son of the dad from 'Growing Pains' and a strong soulful Caribbean woman of colour. I don't know who will win, but I do know who should find this most ironic if she loses." She lost, of course. #Irony (Though winner JT made a decent-enough joke about being "racially profiled by a white woman.")

Oh, and speaking of single of the year. You know how we've been arguing all year about whether it was "Get Lucky" or "Blurred Lines" or "We Can't Stop?" According to the AMAs, the actual single of the year was "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly.

I give up.

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  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus performs at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • R. Kelly, Lady Gaga

    R. Kelly, left, and Lady Gaga perform at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Rihanna, Monica Braithwaite

    Monica Braithwaite, right, presents the Icon award to her daughter Rihanna on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Jennifer Lopez

    El bailarín Maksim Chmerkovskiy carga a Jennifer López el homenaje de la artsita a Celia Cruz en la ceremonia de los American Music Awards, el domingo 24 de noviembre del 2013 en el Teatro Nokia de Los Angeles. (Foto por John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift accepts the award for favorite female artist - country at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake accepts the award for favorite album - soul/R&B for "The 20/20 Experience" at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Lil Mama, T-Boz, Chilli

    From right, Chilli and T-Boz of the musical group TLC perform with Lil Mama on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Joan Jett, Dave Grohl

    Joan Jett, left, and Dave Grohl present the award for favorite artist - alternative rock at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Paulina Gretzky, Ciara

    Paulina Gretzky, left, and Ciara present the award for favorite male artist - soul/R&B at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Ke$ha

    Ke$ha, en el centro, durante su actuación con Pitbull en la ceremonia de los American Music Awards, el domingo 24 de noviembre del 2013 en el Teatro Nokia de Los Angeles. (Foto por John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Ian Axel, Christina Aguilera, Chad Vaccarino

    Ian Axel, left, and Chad Vaccarino, right, of A Great Big World perform with Christina Aguilera at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake accepts the award for favorite male artist - soul/R&B at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna, cener, performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Ryan Lewis, Macklemore

    Macklemore, right, and Ryan Lewis accept the award for favorite album - rap/hip-hop for "The Heist" via satellite from Miami during the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake, center, performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Andy Hurley, Joe Trohman, Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz

    From left, Andy Hurley, Joe Trohman, Patrick Stump, and Pete Wentz of the musical group Fall Out Boy present the award for favorite female artist - country at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Akon, Michael Bolton

    Akon, left, and Michael Bolton present the award for favorite album - rap/hip-hop at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Ke$ha, Pitbull

    Ke$ha, left, and Pitbull perform at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Pitbull, Ke$ha

    Pitbull, left, and Ke$ha perform at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne. Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles

    From left, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Harry Styles of musical group One Direction, accept the award for favorite album - pop/rock for "Take Me Home" at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Tyler Hubbard, Nelly

    Tyler Hubbard, left, of the musical group Florida Georgia Line performs on stage with Nelly at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley

    Tyler Hubbard, left, and Brian Kelley of the musical group Florida Georgia Line perform on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards, on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards, on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Liam Payne, Harry Styles

    Liam Payne, left, and Harry Styles of the musical group One Direction perform on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake, center, performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards, on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Dan Reynolds

    Dan Reynolds of the musical group Imagine Dragons performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna accepts the award for favorite female artist - soul/R&B at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Chris Daughtry, Kristen Bell

    Chris Daughtry, left, and Kristen Bell present the award for favorite album -country at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Pitbull

    Host Pitbull speaks on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Sarah Silverman

    Sarah Silverman arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Christina Aguilera

    Christina Aguilera arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Kendrick Lamar

    Kendrick Lamar arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift accepts the award for favorite female artist - country at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Wayne Newton, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus

    Wayne Newton, from left, Miley Cyrus, and Billy Ray Cyrus arrive at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Luke Bryan

    Luke Bryan arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Naya Rivera

    Naya Rivera arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Katy Perry

    Katy Perry performs on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Ariana Grande

    Ariana Grande arrives at the 2013 American Music Awards, on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

  • Lil Mama

    Lil Mama arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Kendall Jenner

    Kendall Jenner arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Ke$ha, Pitbull

    Ke$ha, center left, and Pitbull, center right, perform on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

  • Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift poses backstage with the awards for favorite album - country for "Red", favorite female artist - pop/rock, favorite female artist - country, and artist of the year at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

  • Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan

    From left, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan of the musical group One Direction perform on stage at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)





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  • Taylor Swift

  • Rihanna in Jean Paul Gaultier Couture

  • Miley Cyrus

  • Katy Perry

  • Zoe Saldana in Roland Mouret

  • Lady Gaga in Versace

  • Christina Aguilera in Maria Lucia Hohan

  • Jennifer Hudson in Christian Dior

  • Jennifer Hudson in Christian Dior

  • Heidi Klum in Marchesa

  • Sarah Silverman

  • Maia Mitchell

  • Maia Mitchell

  • Emma Roberts

  • Naya Rivera

  • Kelly Osbourne in Rami Al Ali

  • Ariana Grande

  • Kylie Jenner

  • Ke$ha

  • Phoebe Price

  • Bonnie McKee

  • Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

  • Jennette McCurdy

  • Mayra Verónica

  • MC Lyte

  • Danity Kane

  • Jaimie Alexander

  • Lil' Mama

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that Paulina Gretzky was presenting the award for Single of the Year. The story has since been updated.