Music

Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift win big at American Music Awards

Nov. 25, 2013 at 12:19 AM ET

It was a big night for Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift at Sunday's American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Swift won the night's biggest honor, artist of the year, and in her acceptance speech she referenced her award-winning year and defended a frequent criticism of her breakup-focused songs.

"My lucky number is 13, and so far, you guys have made 2013 the best year of my life," she said.  

The singer also said, "If you voted for this, then we are heartbroken in the same way and we fall in love the same way and we're happy in the same way, and if you listen to this, we're on the same page."

Before taking home the night's big award, Swift had already claimed the honor for favorite female country artist and for favorite country album, for "Red." During her acceptance speech for favorite female country artist, she thanked the country, pop and adult contemporary radio stations for playing her music, saying it "makes me not have to think about genre" when writing songs.

She also won favorite female pop/rock artist, an award that was not presented during the telecast. 

Image: Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake
The American Music Awards drew musicians to the red carpet in Los Angeles Sunday night. Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Macklemore and Lewis were among the winners.

Timberlake took home the first honor of the night, winning favorite male pop/rock artist. "These are voted on by the fans," he said. "So (thanks to) the fans, everyone who took to their Twitter — I never thought I'd say that in an acceptance speech ever — and got busy." He later returned to the stage twice. First, he claimed the award for favorite male soul and R&B artist. And later, he won the award for favorite soul and R&B album for his album, "The 20/20 Experience."

The soul and R&B award was presented by comedian Sarah Silverman, who joked that Rihanna, a woman of color, was going up against "a white guy from 'The Mickey Mouse Club' (Timberlake) and the son of the dad from 'Growing Pains' (Robin Thicke)." When Timberlake accepted the award, he joked back that it was the "first time I've ever been racially profiled by a white woman."

Rihanna, just 25, was honored with the first-ever Icon Award, presented to her by her mother, who praised her daughter for being "so strong and so positive and so focused." Rihanna then recalled being 15 and begging her mother for permission to pursue a music career. "And she finally said yes, and I thank you for that yes," the singer said.

Rihanna also won the award for favorite female soul and R&B artist. 

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won for favorite rap and hip-hop album for "The Heist." The two accepted live via satellite from Miami, where Macklemore used their location to implore listeners to fight racism, noting that Florida was the state where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman and the state's Stand Your Ground statute was cited.

"I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids that are dying each year due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it," Macklemore said as the audience applauded. "This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers, and our fans, and it's time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it."

Macklemore later performed his hit "Can't Hold Us," again via satellite from Miami.

The favorite alternative artist award went to Imagine Dragons, who also performed at the show.

Marc Anthony won for favorite Latin music artist. He said in his acceptance speech: "There's a saying, 'Because you're alive, (it doesn't) mean you're living.' And I just want to say, don't be afraid to live."

Luke Bryan won the award for favorite male country artist.

One Direction claimed the award for favorite pop/rock album for "Take Me Home." The English-Irish band later won favorite pop/rock band/duo/group as well.

Swedish newcomer Avicii won for favorite electronic dance music artist.

The new artist of the year award went to Ariana Grande, 20, who beat out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Florida Georgia Line, Imagine Dragons and 2012 "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips.

IMAGE: Lady Gaga
Jordan Strauss / AP
Lady Gaga arrives at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre riding an artificial white horse.

Katy Perry opened the show with an elaborate Japanese-themed production of her song "Unconditionally," for which she and dancers dressed as geishas, and trapeze artists flew overhead.

But scene-stealer Lady Gaga wasn't to be outdone, arriving on the AMA red carpet riding an artificial white horse operated by two people.

Hip-hop group TLC reunited to perform their 1995 hit "Waterfalls," with artist Lil Mama filling in for the late TLC member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who died in a car crash in Honduras in 2002.

And the AMAs saved at least some buzzworthy moments for last, with controversial Miley Cyrus going the opposite way of her risque reputation. Instead of donning the nude-colored outfit and foam finger that got her in hot water at the MTV Video Music Awards, Cyrus wore a leotard dotted with kittens and sang her hit "Wrecking Ball" while a sweet orange kitten lip-synced in the background.

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