By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Taylor Swift was named artist of the year at the American Music Awards on Sunday and won two other trophies in a ceremony held live in Los Angeles amid tight coronavirus curbs.
It was Swift’s record sixth win of the top prize at the fan-voted show, although she was absent from the ceremony and thanked fans on video for their support of her surprise lockdown album “folklore.”
Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd – the latter sporting a large white face bandage – were the other big winners, with three awards each.
Bieber was named favorite male pop/rock artist and picked up his two other wins for his collaboration with country singers Dan + Shay on “10,000 Hours”. The Weeknd took home trophies for best soul/R&B male artist as well as for his album “After Hours” and song “Heartless.”
He gave no reason for his bandaged appearance, which confused fans on social media, but appeared to be an artistic choice that started with his March album cover on which he sported a bloodied and broken nose.
The show featured a mix of live and pre-recorded performances across Latin, country, pop, rap and R&B music soul in front of a handful of socially distanced fans.
“It has been a long year and now that 2020 is coming to an end it’s time to remember that we are one country, y’all. We need to heal,” said host Taraji P. Henson as she opened the ceremony.
Masked dancers were the order of the night, kicking off with Bieber singing his hits “Lonely” and “Holy” before being joined by Shawn Mendes for their duet “Monster.”
Becky G, whose parents are Mexican-American, won for best female Latin artist and dedicated her award to immigrant workers.
K-pop group BTS won two, for best pop/rock group and favorite social artists, and closed the show with a version of their hits “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On” from South Korea.
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion marked her debut performance at the American Music Awards with “Body” and later accepted the best rap/hip-hop song trophy for her raunchy summer collaboration “WAP” with Cardi B.
But she was beaten in the best new artist category by Los Angeles singer Doja Cat, who was also named favorite female soul/R&B artist.