The AMAs pre-show buzz may have been about how much scandalous skin would be shown during Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Lopez's "Booty" performance, but Taylor Swift opened the night with a demure rendition of "Blank Space." It all proved big budget award show spectacles need not be sexed up to make an impact.
And when Azalea did make her first appearance, to pick up Best Hip Hop Album ("the first award I've ever won in my life") she wore a black tuxedo. She also resisted rubbing her win in the face of Eminem, who had reached a new low last week by threatening to rape Iggy in his new song.
Yes, host and charisma blackhole Pitbull made a creepy comment about watching "Booty" a hundred times in slow-motion (which was almost as bad as his egregious performance of single, "Fireball"). He then followed it later in the show up by joking "'Booty' and 'Bang, Bang,' sounds like my kind of party!" while the rest of us wondered how he got the gig.
Canadian lite-reggae act Magic! also made their their sexist smash "Rude" sound even worse with a Wyclef Jean cameo, and 5 Seconds of Summer carried themselves with far more aplomb as they won best new artist and delivered a fine if not particularly memorable song.
Female faves One Direction took home a hat-trick, including Artist of the Year, and acted winningly humble, even saying as they picked up the night's biggest award that "we tried our hardest to really improve and make the music better and better." (Oh, and Harry Styles won the Pharrell Award Show Hat Award for his Quaker Oats cap.)
An adorably not-maudlin Sam Smith won best pop/rock male acts ("Tonight I couldn't feel further from lonely") before performing with rapper A$AP Rocky and later 90s country icon Garth Brooks made the audience's parents finally sigh with relief.
But for the most part women ruled the AMAs and did it on their own terms.
Charli XCX, who may still be best known from her hook on the summer's biggest song "Fancy," continued her inexorable rise with a superstar-making, lollipop-smashing turn on a medley of "Boom Clap" and "Break the Rules" which went from prom-themed to gothtastic.
Speaking of gothtastic, Lorde may not have won, but her performance of Hunger Games tune "Yellow Flicker Beat" was eccentric and electric.
Ariana Grande was still boring, but her vocals remain impressive her singles like "Problem" undeniable and her decision to do her R&B and EDM jams as if she was playing an old-time jazz club was damn cool, as was her duet with Canadian crooner The Weeknd on "Love Me Harder."
The dominance of women in music this year was perhaps best crystallized by comparing "Start a Fire," Lil Wayne's go-nowhere song about loving a hot girl, to his protege Nicki Minaj's fantastic, emotional performance of "Bed of Lies" with Skylar Grey.
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The Dick Clark Award For Excellence went to Taylor Swift, whose new album became the year's first to go platinum -- and then did it twice in three weeks. She began by thanking presenter Diana Ross who, Swift said, "stood up for herself so many times in a time when it was not popular for a woman to stand up for herself."
Then Swift doubled-down on her decision to pull her music from Spotify and thanked her fans. "By investing in music and albums you're saying you believe in the same thing I believe in, music is valuable and music should be consumed in albums and albums should be consumed as art and appreciated."
The sex-appeal did get ramped up towards the end, with Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj teaming up for a dynamic rendition of "Bang Bang" before Iggy and J.Lo finally brought out their "Booty."
While more steamy than scandalous, the “Booty” performance was somewhat embarrassing, not least because it’s not a strong enough song to close an award show. But aside from its cheeky conclusion, the American Music Awards spent most of its time showcasing women's talents, not their bodies.
American Music Awards Full Winners List:
DICK CLARK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR
5 Seconds of Summer
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Katy Perry featuring Juicy J - “Dark Horse”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST - POP/ROCK
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST - POP/ROCK
FAVORITE BAND, DUO OR GROUP - POP/ROCK
FAVORITE ALBUM - POP/ROCK
One Direction - “Midnight Memories”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST - COUNTRY
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST - COUNTRY
FAVORITE BAND, DUO OR GROUP - COUNTRY
Florida Georgia Line
FAVORITE ALBUM - COUNTRY
Brantley Gilbert - “Just As I Am”
FAVORITE ARTIST - RAP/HIP-HOP
FAVORITE ALBUM - RAP/HIP-HOP
Iggy Azalea - “The New Classic”
FAVORITE MALE ARTIST - SOUL/R&B
FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST - SOUL/R&B
FAVORITE ALBUM - SOUL/R&B
Beyonce - “Beyonce”
FAVORITE ARTIST - ALTERNATIVE ROCK
FAVORITE ARTIST - ADULT CONTEMPORARY
FAVORITE ARTIST - LATIN
FAVORITE ARTIST - CONTEMPORARY INSPIRATIONAL
FAVORITE ARTIST - ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC