Photo Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic
If music award shows were yearbook categories, the MTV Video Music Awards would crown the Best Looking. The Grammy Awards would exalt the Most Likely to Succeed. And ABC's American Music Awards would coronate the Most Popular.
At the AMA's (whose 40th broadcast aired on Sunday night), nominees are selected based on radio airplay and sales, and winners are chosen by fans who vote online. The overall winner of this year's literal popularity contest was…Justin Bieber. He won artist of the year, plus awards in two other categories, pop/rock male artist and pop/rock album.
"I want to say this is for all the haters who thought that I was just here for one or two years," chirped the diminutive tween magnet. "I feel like I'm going to be here for a very long time."
Granted, presenter Jenny McCarthy took a bite out of his swagger when she appeared to maul his neck in a congratulatory kiss. "I did grab his butt," McCarthy said backstage. "I couldn't help it. He was just so delicious. So little. I wanted to tear his head off and eat it."
If you listen to Top 40 radio, then you can probably guess some of the night's other winners. Just imagine the songs you can't escape, and then name the artists who made them popular. "Starships" singer Nicki Minaj won twice, for best rap/hip-hop artist and rap/hip-hop album. Carly Rae Jepsen, who sings the ubiquitous "Call Me Maybe," won best new artist of the year. Lady Antebellum, the band behind the songs "Need You Now" and "Just a Kiss," won for best country band, duo or group. And so on. Adele, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Beyonce all won in their genres. (Those last two didn't show up to the ceremony, though.)
Usher and Kelly Clarkson each performed medleys of their songs, with Clarkson incorporating an homage to her launching pad, American Idol. Minaj and Taylor each delivered performances with crazy get-ups, high production values, and several back-up singers and dancers.
Stevie Wonder performed to a tribute to the recently deceased Dick Clark, who created the AMA's 40 years ago. Ryan Seacrest, the pop music host largely viewed as the successor to Clark, introduced the performers.
Read on to learn who else made it into music's most popular crowd this year.
Artist of the year: Justin Bieber
New artist of the year: Carly Rae Jepsen
Pop/rock female artist: Katy Perry
Pop/rock male artist: Justin Bieber
Pop/rock band, duo or group: Maroon 5
Pop/rock album: Justin Bieber, "Believe"
Country female artist: Taylor Swift
Country male artist: Luke Bryan
Country band, duo or group: Lady Antebellum
Country album: Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away"
Rap/hip-hop artist: Nicki Minaj
Rap/hip-hop album: Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"
Soul/R&B female artist: Beyonce
Soul/R&B male artist: Usher
Soul/R&B album: Rihanna, "Talk That Talk"
Alternative rock artist: Linkin Park
Adult contemporary artist: Adele
Latin artist: Shakira
Contemporary inspirational artist: TobyMac
Electronic dance music artist: David Guetta