5 Seconds of Summer, Iggy Azalea steal show at star-studded American Music Awards
Virtually every recording artist that had a hit song on the radio in 2014 competed for the industry's second biggest honor at the American Music Awards on Sunday night.
Created by "American Bandstand" host Dick Clark in 1973 as an alternative to the Grammy Awards, the American Music Awards nominates artists based on album and single sales, while the Grammys are curated by members of the music industry. After nominees are selected, the general public votes for the winners.
As a result, regardless of how one feels about the quality of work celebrated, there is no denying the work's familiarity. The event prominently featured entertainment mainstays Beyoncé Knowles and Eminem, who were both nominated for awards including Artist of the Year.
However, it was the fresh new faces who stole the show. Iggy Azalea, the Australian rap artist who became a top 40 phenom this year with hits "Fancy" and "Black Widow," led with 6 nominations and walked away with two trophies: Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album for her studio debut "The New Classic."
Newcomer Sam Smith, the soulful crooner behind this year's "Stay With Me," who was also featured on Disclosure's hit EDM track "Latch," also received major accolades being awarded the trophy for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist.
Although Taylor Swift did not receive nominations this year due to the ceremony's requirement for an artist to release work between December 2013 and September 2014, the show made sure the princess of pop was not ignored. While AMA linchpin Katy Perry took home the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Swift was given the Dick Clark Award for Excellence, celebrating her for the astronomical sales of her new album "1989," which continues to top the Billboard charts weeks after release.
During her acceptance speech, Swift reaffirmed her stance against popular music streaming service Spotify, which she pulled her catalogue from earlier this month. "Music is valuable and should be consumed in albums," she said.
The "Shake It Out" singer opened the show with a performance of her new single "Blank Space," a more poppy entry into her line of signature breakup songs. During the musical number, she surrounded herself with hunky men wearing suede suits, holding roses that were set ablaze.
Many other music stars took the stage to perform, including Fergie, Lorde, Mary J. Blige and the trio of Nicki Minah, Ariana Grande and Jessie J, who brought down the house with a rendition of their collaboration "Bang Bang." Sure to be the most talked about performance of the night came from Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea, who gave a performance that was worthy of the song title "Booty."
Overall, it was the boy bands who won the evening. Australian pop group 5 Seconds of Summer, who achieved sudden popularity this year with their song "She Looks So Perfect," were awarded Artist of the Year — almost certainly on the backs of their legion of fans who have kept them perpetually trending on Twitter for months. The boys, who seem eager to inherit the throne from One Direction, were the kings of the ball also winning Favorite Pop/Rock Band and Favorite Pop/Rock Album.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel.