2020 American Music Awards: 5 must-see moments, including BTS and Taylor Swift
The 2020 American Music Awards brought a night of high-flying performances, poignant victories and striking statements.
Broadcast live Sunday from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater, the pandemic-era ceremony was hosted by actress Taraji P. Henson, who took the stage along with a handful of acts — sans audience because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
For the record:
12:30 p.m. Nov. 23, 2020An earlier version of this post stated that BTS performed at Seoul’s Jamsil Baseball Stadium. The group performed at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium.
Well, sort of sans audience. Instead of facing a live crowd, the “Empire” star performed her opening monologue Emmys-style to a handful of cardboard cutouts, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rosalía, Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks and skateboarding TikTok superstar Nathan Apodaca.
“I am so happy to be here,” Henson said during her opening monologue. “I’m just happy to be off the couch and in some real fashion — and some deodorant, which, I think just expired.”
“Dolly! I love you, Mama. You just out here saving us all, saving the world,” she added, referencing Parton’s $1-million donation to COVID-19 research that ended up partly funding Moderna’s vaccine.
From BTS to Taylor Swift, here’s a sampling of must-see moments from this year’s AMAs.
Megan Thee Stallion gives a full ‘Body’ performance
As expected, rapper Megan Thee Stallion delivered an energetic rendition of a new track off her debut studio album, “Good News,” which arrived Friday. While performing “Body,” Meg nailed the fast-paced, booty-popping choreography from her latest music video, which has sparked a viral #BodyChallenge on social media.
After entering the ceremony with five nominations — the most of any female artist this year — the “WAP” hitmaker ended up winning favorite rap/hip-hop song for her steamy, sex-positive collaboration with fellow rapper Cardi B.
Pop star Dua Lipa also made a splash with her AMAs set, which saw her levitate — thanks to a rope and pulley system — while singing “Levitating,” off her March album, “Future Nostagia.” Lipa entered the show with two nominations and ended up taking home the favorite pop/rock song award for her lead single, “Don’t Start Now.”
The Weeknd’s face coverings spark concern
No, not that kind of face covering. Canadian singer the Weeknd raised eyebrows when he took the AMAs stage with a pair of black eyes and covered in bandages during his performance and victory speeches.
And that’s exactly what he meant to do. Much like his latest album, “After Hours,” and single “Blinding Lights” — about someone making a late-night visit to their love while intoxicated — the concerning look doubled as a warning against drunk driving.
Along with rapper Roddy Ricch, the Weeknd received eight AMA nominations — the most of any artist this year. During the show, he performed a “Save Your Tears"/"In Your Eyes” medley with Kenny G and took home the awards for favorite soul/R&B album, song and male artist.
“Last time I received this award, it was given to me by the late great Prince,” he said while accepting the honor for soul/R&B album. “He’s the reason I get to constantly challenge the genre of R&B, and I’d like to dedicate this award to him.”
Juice Wrld wins posthumous honor
Nearly a year after he had a seizure and died at a Chicago airport at age 21, “Lucid Dreams” hitmaker Juice Wrld won the AMA for favorite male rap/hip-hop artist.
Juice Wrld previously scored the 2019 Billboard Music Award for top new artist.
“Wow, it’s crazy all the stuff that can happen in a year,” the rapper said during his Billboard speech. “It’s ridiculous. ... I just wanna thank God. I wanna thank all my supporters. I wanna thank all my fans. ... It’s a blessing.”
Taylor Swift wins artist of the year — while rerecording her back catalog
Remember when Taylor Swift’s old record label, Big Machine, reportedly tried to prevent her from performing songs from her first six albums at the 2019 AMAs? And how she not only performed them, but also wore a costume displaying all of the album titles — as a giant middle finger to the company — while doing it?
Well, Swift’s AMAs statement this year was a little more subtle, but a statement nonetheless. While accepting the top prize via video for artist of the year, the “Folklore” artist explained that “the reason I’m not there tonight is: I’m actually rerecording all of my own music in the studio where I originally recorded it.”
Her announcement comes about a week after her arch nemesis, music mogul Scooter Braun, resold the rights to her back catalog. Swift vowed last year to rerecord her earlier work shortly after Braun purchased it without her consent.
“It’s been amazing, and I can’t wait for you to hear it,” Swift said Sunday. “Have a great night. I love you so much. Thank you.”
BTS goes out with a bang
Who better to close out Sunday’s musical celebration than the hottest music group on the planet, BTS?
For their highly anticipated AMAs performance, South Korean pop phenoms RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook did not disappoint, delivering a dynamic medley of “Life Goes On” and “Dynamite” that ended in a stunning light show at Seoul’s Jamsil Olympic Stadium.
BTS was nominated for two AMAs this year — favorite pop/rock group and favorite social artist — and won both.
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for weekly recommendations, analysis, interviews and irreverent discussion of the TV and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.