The achievement of topping two multiplatinum veterans to win the award was not lost on the 16-year-old heartthrob, who praised both artists as he picked up the pop/rock award.
“I can’t stop smiling; this is amazing. Truly I don’t know how this is possible because I’ve been singing Eminem since I was three and Usher is my mentor. So this is big,” said Bieber, who also won the show’s breakthrough artist award.
Other winners included Black Eyed Peas and Taylor Swift, but Sunday’s ceremony was as much a showcase for acts with new albums as it was a celebration of the biggest achievers of 2010.
Rihanna, with her hair dyed a ruby red, gave the show a colorful and sexy start, performing a medley of songs from her just released album “Loud,” including the No. 1 hit “What’s My Name,” wearing a bustier and what seemed like a scarf wrapped around her backside.
“This is amazing!” said an exuberant Rihanna, who danced onstage later to receive her award _ favorite soul/R&B female. She ended her speech by yelling, “Wassup! Thank you!”
The Black Eyed Peas, winners for favorite pop/rock band, gave a levitating performance, singing from boxes atop the stage during part of their performance of their new single, “The Time.”
But some of the prime-time performances were given to acts who weren’t nominated, but had albums to promote. Diddy’s latest incarnation with the group Diddy-Dirty Money sang material from their upcoming album, while Kid Rock gave a stirring, acoustic performance of “Times Like These,” his song lifting up his hometown of Detroit during its recent economic struggles, from his new CD, “Born Free.”
A pregnant Pink was among the evening’s performance highlights. Unlike recent performances marked by a high-wire act, she stayed close to the ground to perform her latest song, “Raise Your Glass,” but thrilled nonetheless with a tightly choreographed, high-energy dance number.
Katy Perry had the evening’s most explosive performance as pyrotechnics accentuated her performance of her latest song, “Firework.”
Swift, last year’s artist of the year, took home favorite country female. Sporting sleek blonde hair instead of her usual cascading curls, Swift said simply: “I just want to thank the fans.”
Swift later performed her new single “Back to December,” a song she also performed on the CMA Awards earlier in the month, but mixed things up by incorporating some of OneRepublic’s “Too Late To Apologize.”
The night’s top nominees were Eminem and Lady Antebellum with five apiece but they had yet to appear on the stage by mid-show.
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