Minaj and Christina Aguilera were blonde bombshells, too: Minaj’s hair was busy and full of volume and she sported a neon strapless gown to accept her award. Aguilera wore a blonde bob in a purple dress that matched her eyeshadow.
Kelly Clarkson also hit the stage, making a nod to her “American Idol” roots with a number on her dress and three judges looking on as she sang “Miss Independent.” Then she went into “Since U Been Gone,” “Stronger” and “Catch My Breath.” It’s worth noting that “Idol” judge Randy Jackson introduced Clarkson, the first-ever winner of the show. He also advised people to donate through Red Cross for Superstorm Sandy victims.
Fellow “Idol” winner Carrie Underwood, won best favorite country album, also performed, hitting the right notes during her performance of “Two Black Cadillacs.”
American Music Awards nominees were selected based on sales and airplay, and fans chose the winners by voting online. At this award show, even the stars were fans: Pink said on the red carpet that she’d like to collaborate with Lauryn Hill. Cyndi Lauper said her musical playlist includes Pink, Minaj and Rae Jepsen, who performed “Call Me Maybe” and won new artist of the year. Boy band The Wanted said they were excited to see “Gangnam Style” star PSY, and Colbie Caillat wants to watch No Doubt.
“What makes the American Music Awards special is the fans choose the winning artists,” said Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who won favorite artist alternative rock and performed “Burn It Down,” as Brandy sang along and Gwen Stefani, Usher and Phillip Phillips bobbed their heads.
Along with Rihanna, Minaj was the top nominee with four nominations.
“I don’t do music for awards,” the 29-year-old said in an interview. “It’s so crazy because people always have to remind me that I’m nominated for an award when I go to award shows.”
“I know they’re going to come. I’m sitting here looking at my awards right now,” she continued with a laugh. “I never stress it. I think of myself as `I’ll have a career long enough to get all those different awards.’”
But the American Music Awards are all about performances, and Sunday’s show was no exception. The three-hour program broadcast live on ABC featured performances by Pink, Ludacris, Chris Brown and Swizz Beatz.
Other multiple nominees included Usher, Drake, Maroon 5 and One Direction, who had three nods each. Perry, Underwood, Brown, Clarkson, Pitbull, fun., Gotye, J. Cole and Bryan were all double nominees. David Guetta won the show’s first-ever electronic dance music award.
Stevie Wonder provided the soundtrack for the 40th anniversary show’s tribute to Dick Clark, its creator.
“Dick changed the face of music back in the late `50s,” producer Larry Klein said. “Dick is the one who made rock `n’ roll acceptable to come into people’s homes. … We’re paying tribute to Dick because of the legacy that he’s left everybody and also the creativity of what he did on this show.”
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Follow (at)APSandy’s American Music Award updates at http://www.twitter.com/APEntertainment.