It was a far smaller event than usual, with social distancing in play – but the American Music Awards 2020 still went off with a suitably showbiz bang in Los Angeles last night. Megan Thee Stallion, Jennifer Lopez, Billie Eilish and more lit up the stage with a series of standout performances, as Taraji P. Henson took on hosting honours with aplomb – mixing high-octane dance moves with a dozen costume changes.
From moving speeches on immigration and body confidence to some seriously brilliant live sets, plus a stay-in message from Taylor Swift’s studio, these are the highlights that everyone’s talking about.
Megan Thee Stallion performs Body for the first time
The most spectacular moment in a pretty eventful night came when Megan Thee Stallion performed her new single Body for the first time: and suffice to say, it was incredible.
The artist’s live world premiere went down a storm on social media; not least because she opened it with a powerful riff on body confidence that women everywhere can relate to.
“I love my body,” Megan began. “Every curve, every inch, every mark, every dimple.
“My body is mine and nobody owns it but me,” she went on. “You may not think my body is perfect and it probably never will be. But when I look in the mirror, I love what I see.”
Needless to say, she smashed it – and everyone on Twitter thought the same.
Taylor Swift accepts Artist of the Year remotely
Taylor Swift scooped AMA’s prestigious Artist of the Year title for the third year running last night, but she wasn’t available to pick up the prize in person. Instead the Shake It Off singer delivered her acceptance speech remotely from her studio, where she is working on re-recording her old tracks.
“This is a fan-voted award, which means so much to me,” the singer told her community via video link. “You guys have been beyond wonderful all the years of my career but especially this one when we’ve been so far apart, and we haven’t been able to see each other in concert. I still feel really connected to you through the music.”
Taylor’s former manager, Scott Borchetta, signed the artist when she was 14 years old, and recorded six albums with her. The artist previously fell out with both him and “tyrannical” music manager Scooter Braun, in a row over copyright of many of her oldest and best-loved hits.
Having failed in negotiations to buy her own work back, the singer is now in the process of re-recording her back catalogue – a move made all the more pointed by her remote appearance last night.
J-Lo sparks comparisons with Beyoncé
A highlight of last night’s show came when Jennifer Lopez hit the stage with Maluma to perform Pa’ Ti and Lonely from their forthcoming film Marry Me.
J-Lo’s wet hair look bore resemblance to Beyoncé’s styling at the time, and both artists wore sultry bodices and showcased similar moves during their acts.
Whether the likeness was by coincidence or a deliberate tribute, either way it added a fun throwback edge to J-Lo’s impressive stage presence.
Becky G dedicates her win to immigrant families
The award for most powerful speech of the night went to singer and songwriter Becky G, who used her win in the inaugural Favourite Latin female artist category as an opportunity to honour immigrant communities.
“When it comes to me and the decisions that I make in my career, I proudly wave both flags: Mexican and American,” the singer told a cheering audience, in a personal and moving tribute.
“Like many children and grandchildren of immigrants – no matter where they’re from – we have learned from the ones before us what sacrifice and hard work looks like. I dedicate this award to all of our immigrant workers in this pandemic.
“It’s because of my family, my abuelitos [grandparents] that I stand here today,” she added.
Taraji P. Henson is the hostess with the mostess
Award ceremony hosting is not the easiest gig in the world – especially when you add social distancing into the bargain – but AMA anchor Taraji P. Henson made it look like a breeze last night. The What Men Want star handled no less than 12 elaborate costume changes in tribute to various iconic musicians of the ages during her presenting stint, coupled with a powerhouse opening sequence.
Taraji set the tone for the night ahead with a high-octane dance opener, shaking it on down to an upbeat musical mash-up featuring artists such as Prince, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B.
Her energetic performance won instant plaudits on Twitter, and was followed up with a series of on-point outfit swaps and banter.
The actor and podcast host even managed to get a Donald Trump jibe in at one point. Announcing Taylor Swift as Artist of the Year, Taraji couldn’t resist a dig at Trump’s meltdown over the recent election results, saying: “The votes are in. They’ve all been counted, no, we ain’t doing no recount.”
“Tonight was a dream! I had SO MUCH FUN,” she said afterwards. So did we all, Taraji. So did we all.