LOS ANGELES // Pop diva Taylor Swift was named Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards (AMA) Sunday, while other big winners included British boy band One Direction and crooner Justin Timberlake.
Swift, who took to the stage in a shiny golden mini-dress, also won favorite country artist and favorite country album for “Red” at the AMAs, which are voted on by the public.
Other highlights included typically idiosyncratic performances by Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, who wrapped up the three-hour show by singing her hit “Wrecking Ball” with a giant crying kitten.
Katy Perry opened the show on a Japanese theme, emerging demurely from behind a geisha-girl flanked screen in a kimono before launching into her latest hit “Unconditionally.”
Timberlake was the first winner of the show, aired live from the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and hosted by Latino rapper Pitbull, taking favorite pop/rock male prize.
He also won best R&B/Soul album and best male R&B/Soul artist.
One Direction, who sang a stripped down version of their song “Story of My Life,” ended the evening with favorite pop/rock group and favorite pop/rock album for “Take Me Home.”
Rihanna took best female R&B/Soul artist, and was also presented with an AMA Icon award by her mother, who she joked used to say she had “an annoying, husky, little man voice.”
The evening took a brief political turn when best rap/hip-hop album went to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - who used a satellite link speech from Miami to refer to the notorious killing of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
“Due to the fact that we are in Florida ... I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it,” said Macklemore.
But it was left to Cyrus - closely watched ever since her twerking turn at the MTV Video Music Awards - to end the show in suitably twitter-storming style, in a cat-covered bikini and with a giant orange and white kitten singing along behind her.
“New Drinking Game: take a shot for every tweet on ur timeline about miley and her cat... First one dead wins,” quipped @DrewwMusic on Twitter.
* Agence France-Presse