By MARK KENNEDY
AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — BTS and Coldplay — two of the biggest groups on Earth — teamed up Sunday for a live and raucous version of their cosmic collaboration “My Universe” as the American Music Awards celebrated the best popular music for a second pandemic year with a mix of live and pre-taped performances.
Silk Sonic’s Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak kicked off the awards on a funky, R&B and pre-taped note with their “Smokin Out the Window” and host Cardi B in a fur headdress — one of a constant stream of new outfits — revved up the crowd, admitting she was sweating.
“I’m a little nervous,” said the host after listing all the performances planned and noting that producers would be highlighting everyone’s home town. “We’re going to celebrate everybody.”
BTS once again claimed the favorite pop duo or group award, excitedly bounding on stage and thanking their devoted fans for their three-peat. The favorite Latin album went to Bad Bunny’s “El Último Tour Del Mundo.”
An earlier scheduled performance of “Butter” by the joined forces of BTS and Megan Thee Stallion has been scrapped after the rapper cited personal reasons for dropping out Saturday.
All eyes were on whether Olivia Rodrigo could turn her album “Sour” into something very sweet. She entered the night as the leading nominee with nods for artist of the year and new artist of the year. She lost favorite pop album to Taylor Swift’s “evermore.” In a taped speech, Swift told her fans: “I’m so lucky to be in your life.”
Rodrigo performed her hit “traitor” on a stage covered with flowers and Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean brought a little country to the stage when they sang their duet “If I Didn’t Love You.” With a little help from Julieta Venegas and Tainy, Bad Bunny performed their hit “Lo Siento BB :/.”
The fan-voted awards show was airing live from Los Angeles on ABC. Nominees were based on streaming, album and digital sales, radio airplay and social activity, and reflect the time period of Sept. 25, 2020, through Sept. 23, 2021.
Machine Gun Kelly grabbed the favorite rock artist award. “I want to accept this for all the aspiring musicians, the one who desires to play an instrument, wants to rap, wants to sing — not just the rock artists, but all the artists,” he said.
Earlier Sunday, in awards announced before the show, Swift was named favorite female pop artist, Ed Sheeran got the favorite male award and Doja Cat featuring SZA on “Kiss Me More” was named collaboration of the year. Kanye West was named favorite gospel artist.
Underwood won for favorite inspirational artist and favorite female country artist, Megan Thee Stallion was named favorite female hip-hop artist and her “Good News” won for favorite hip-hop album. Doja Cat also won two other awards: favorite female R&B artist and her “Planet Her” was named favorite R&B album.
Luke Bryan was named favorite country artist Bad Bunny was favorite male Latin artist, The Weeknd was favorite male R&B artist and Drake won the favorite male hip-hop artist. Gabby Barrett took home the favorite country album for “Goldmine” and favorite country song for “The Good Ones.”
Other performers included Jennifer Lopez, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. joining forces as Silk Sonic, Bad Bunny, Diplo, Mickey Guyton and Tyler, The Creator. The Italian rock group and Eurovision winners Måneskin will make their U.S. awards show debut. Kane Brown was to perform “One Mississippi” from Tennessee State University and New Edition and New Kids on the Block were to perform together for the first time.
Reggaeton star Bad Bunny, R&B newcomer Giveon and Doja Cat each have five nominations each. In the new artist of the year category, Rodrigo joins Giveon, 24KGoldn, Masked Wolf and The Kid LAROI.
Swift, who currently holds the record for the most awarded artist in AMA history with 34, could further extend her streak. She is nominated for one more award — artist of the year.
The AMAs added new categories this year, including favorite trending song, favorite gospel artist and favorite Latin duo or group.
Rapper Pop Smoke, who was killed in 2020, is nominated in three categories, including favorite hip-hop album and favorite hip-hop artist, and could win his first award posthumously.
If Rodrigo wins a majority of the awards she is nominated for, that would put her in good company. Olivia Newton-John and Justin Bieber are tied for four awards won in their first year nominated.
The Associated Press was not able to transmit images of Cardi B while she was onstage because her representatives required approval, a restriction the AP would not accept.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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