Swift won artist of the year at the fan-voted show on Tuesday in Los Angeles, beating out Drake, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons and Post Malone for the top prize.
Voting was a hot topic at the AMAs. Host and Golden Globe-winning “black-ish” actress Tracee Ellis Ross wore a shirt that said, “I am a voter,” and comedian-actor Billy Eichner told the audience, “The biggest election of our lifetime is happening.”
Cardi B picked up the night’s first award, favorite hip-hop/rap artist, which she dedicated to her daughter.
“I really want to thank my daughter,” said Cardi B, who gave birth to Kulture Kiari Cephus in July. “I gotta prove people wrong. They said I wasn’t going to make it after I had a baby.”
The rapper hit the stage to give a festive and colorful performance of her No. 1 hit, “I Like It,” where she was joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, who was wheeled onstage inside a shopping cart. Cardi B’s husband, Offset of the rap trio Migos, danced along in the audience with group member Quavo as Cardi B worked the stage with vibrant dance moves, including the salsa.
Cardi B returned the favor, screaming happily when Migos was named favorite pop/rock duo or group, beating out Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons, later in the show.
“We did not know we was winning this at all,” said Quavo, also giving a shout-out to group member Takeoff, who didn’t attend the AMAs.
“I want to thank you sexy lady,” Offset said, pointing to Cardi B.
Like Cardi B’s performance, rising newcomer Ella Mai also won over the crowd when she sang the year’s biggest R&B hit, “Boo’d Up,” starting the performance as she walked down the aisle of the Microsoft Theater. Khalid, Quavo and Offset were some of the audience members dancing along, while others sang and some even filmed her with their phones.
Others who shined onstage included R&B singer Ciara, who showed off her skilled dance moves and was joined by a fierce Missy Elliott. Carrie Underwood was in perfect form vocally, and Camila Cabello — who won new artist of the year — gave a heartful, touching and vocally impressive performance of the ballad “Consequences,” earning her a standing ovation.
The three-hour show closed with a rousing tribute to Aretha Franklin, who died in August. Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and CeCe Winans were among the musicians who paid tribute to the Queen of Soul’s gospel roots and her iconic album, “Amazing Grace.”