Pop & Hiss

American Music Awards: What time are they and what to watch for

Who will win artist of the year and artists debuting new music are two reasons to watch this year's #AMAs

What the American Music Awards may lack in prestige or irreverence compared to other ceremonies honoring music talent, it makes up for by showcasing one flashy performance after another.

Watch it all go down on Sunday at 8 p.m. PST on ABC. (The show will be tape-delayed for West Coast viewers; it will air at 8 p.m. EST/7p.m. CST in those time zones.)

This year’s lineup is packed with a who’s who of artists across a spectrum of genres. Garth Brooks, Mary J. Blige, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, One Direction, Lorde, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea are just a few of the acts slated to perform.

Azalea, one of the year’s biggest breakouts, leads the pack of nominees with six nods including artist of the year, new artist and single of the year. John Legend, Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams follow with five nominations each, while Lorde earned four nominations. 

Ahead of Sunday’s show, airing live for most of the country from the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live, here’s a few things to watch for:

Artist of the year. Iggy Azalea, Beyoncé, Luke Bryan, One Direction and Katy Perry have made the cut. Given that winners are determined by fan votes, one may assume that the artists' rabid fan bases with cute names (see the Directioners, the Katycats and the Azaleans) would have the edge. But who had a bigger year than Beyoncé? 

Booties everywhere. Queen may have famously sang about “Fat Bottomed Girls” in the '70s, but the celebration of plump derrieres truly belonged to a set of pop ladies this year.

Nicki Minaj’s saucy ode to her rump, “Anaconda,” broke the Internet on the strength of its risque cover art and she’s certain to draw attention onstage. Jennifer Lopez, who arguably has the most famous butt in showbiz (Pop & Hiss feels somewhat guilty to be writing this paragraph, but this is pop music in 2014), will perform her cheeky anthem “Booty” and will be joined by Azalea for a performance that will likely dominate social media (and draw the ire of the Parents Television Council).

Unfortunately the show is low on male performers known for shaking their hips, so it’s all on Pitbull to deliver the booty. Although it’s not too late to book Luke Bryan.

New music. A slew of acts will use their performance slots to premiere new music. Lil Wayne is expected to premiere his latest single, “Start a Fire"; Nicki Minaj will be joined by pop-rock singer-songwriter Skylar Grey for her recently released single, “Bed of Lies"; Taylor Swift, set to receive the inaugural Dick Clark Award for Excellence during the ceremony, will perform a new single, “Blank Space” (which you probably already know by heart); and Fergie will hit the stage with “L.A. Love,” her first solo single in years.

Grammy precursors. Yes,the AMAs pulls its nominees from sales, radio airplay, streaming and social activity while the Recording Academy relies on its industry members. Still, both ultimately are a popularity contest and there’s certain to be overlap. For example, check the race for new artist, in which 5 Seconds of Summer, Iggy Azalea, Bastille, Sam Smith and Meghan Trainor are competing. Don't be surprised to see a few of those names come Grammy nominations on Dec. 5.

Twitter: @GerrickKennedy

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