Taylor Swift's fans have done it again, voting her the American Music Awards artist of the year for a third time.
Swift won Sunday night's top honor, giving her a leading four trophies as fans celebrated the women of pop music.
Swift didn't perform, but she was a constant presence on stage and the camera alighted on her as she danced to stars like Kendrick Lamar and Luke Bryan. Her win came after Katy Perry dazzled with her show-opening performance, Lady Gaga found another inventive way to grab your attention, Rihanna starred with her mother and Miley Cyrus closed the performances with the assistance of a giant lip-syncing CGI kitty on her song “Wrecking Ball.”
“I'm really out of breath,” Swift said after taking the stage in a sequined mini-dress. “I was really going hard with the 'Wrecking Ball' thing.”
The 23-year-old pop star also won country album of the year for “Red” and favorite female country artist and pop/rock artist. She spoke directly to her fans as she picked up her final award of the night.
“My lucky number is 13, and so far you guys have made 2013 the most magical year of my life so far,” she said. “I cannot thank you enough. This validates that if you voted for this that we are heartbroken the same way and we fall in love the same way and we're happy the same way. And the fact that you would listen to my music means ... we're pretty much in it together, aren't we?”
Justin Timberlake was next with three wins — soul/R&B album, soul/R&B male artist and pop/rock male artist. One Direction and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won two awards and Rihanna was given the AMA's first Icon Award to go with her win as favorite soul/R&B female artist.
Rihanna and her mother took center stage midway through the show when Monica Fenty presented her pop star daughter with the first Icon Award at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
“Can we talk about how cute Rihanna's mom is?” Justin Timberlake asked while accepting one of his three awards, before affecting a Caribbean accent. “She's so proud of the Icon. I am too, Rihanna, I love you.”
Fenty told Rihanna how proud she was of her daughter's success, saying, “I know the journey in your career has not always been an easy one.”
Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande was named favorite new artist, Florida Georgia Line won single of the year for “Cruise” with Nelly in something of a surprise, Luke Bryan won favorite male country artist, and favorite rap/hip-hop act Macklemore & Ryan Lewis used their rap/hip-hop album acceptance speech to send a message of tolerance.
Ben Haggerty, the rapper known as Macklemore, accepted the award for favorite rap/hip-hop album, then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in a live satellite feed from the rap group's latest tour stop.
“Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award 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,” he said.
Florida became a focal point after Martin's killer was freed under the state's stand your ground law. It was the first win of the night for Macklemore and Lewis, whose album “The Heist” has been an unexpected hit and made them the AMA's top nominees with six.
Katy Perry opened the show looking like a princess out of a classic Japanese painting. Dressed in a traditional Japanese dress, Perry's show-starting performance of “Unconditionally” included dozens of colorfully clad dancers waved fans, shadow danced in front of rice-paper screens and played the drums.
One Direction was at times drowned out by screams during an understated performance of “Story of My Life.” Timberlake strapped on an acoustic guitar and played a soulfully raucous version of “Drink You Away.”
And Jennifer Lopez absolutely nailed the elaborate dance numbers during her tribute to Salsa queen Celia Cruz, taking two dozen dancers through their paces while wearing a shimmering silver dress.
She winked at the crowd as she finished the number, the dancers sprawled around her on the floor.
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly put on an elaborate production for their song “Do What U Want,” staging a presidential affair. Kelly played the president and Gaga a Marilyn Monroe-like mistress.
Cyrus wasn't quite as over the top as her previous appearances this year but is likely to be talked about just as much. The camera stayed on Cyrus and the lip-syncing tabby that floated through space throughout, an odd duet that ended when the cat winked and stuck out its tongue — Cyrus' signature move.