LOS ANGELES — R&B sensation Usher won all his show-leading four nominations at the American Music Awards on Sunday, and rap funksters OutKast went three-for-three during a performance-studded, occasionally censored broadcast ceremony.
“Thank you for this moment. Thank you for this year,” Usher said as he picked up his last award of the night. “It’s been amazing.”
Usher won for favorite male soul-R&B artist, best pop-rock artist, best pop-rock album and best soul-R&B album for “Confessions,” which sold more than 1 million copies in its debut week.
OutKast, the Grammy winners whose album “Speakerboxxx-The Love Below” spawned the mega-hit “Hey Ya!” took home awards for favorite pop-rock band, favorite rap-hip-hop album and best rap-hip-hop group.
In his acceptance remarks, OutKast’s Big Boi paid tribute to founding Wu-Tang Clan member O.D.B., who collapsed and died inside a New York recording studio Saturday. The rapper’s cause of death was not immediately clear.
“Rest in peace Ol’ Dirty Bastard,” Big Boi said. “We love you.”
Soul diva Alicia Keys won favorite female artist in the soul-R&B category, edging out Janet Jackson and Beyonce.
Brooks & Dunn earned their fourth award for favorite country band. Toby Keith won awards for favorite country male artist and best country album.
“A lot of work went into this project,” Keith said of his album “Shock’n Y’All.” “This is cool.”
Sheryl Crow beat out Avril Lavigne and Jessica Simpson for the favorite female pop-rock artist award and received the prize for favorite adult contemporary artist. Rockers Linkin Park scored the favorite alternative music artist for the second year in a row.
Country singer Kenny Chesney said he was surprised to win a publicly voted award for favorite performer.
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“I really didn’t think anybody was going to beat Usher tonight,” Chesney said.
Shortly before the start of the telecast, producer Dick Clark announced rapper Jay-Z won favorite male artist in the rap-hip-hop category. Singer Marc Anthony won favorite Latin music artist, and the group MercyMe won best contemporary inspirational artist.
The show was heavy on performances, some of them censored with words cut out, although a few presenters got away with racy material.
Gwen Stefani, stepping out without No Doubt, opened the show wearing a short, ruffled dress and white stockings and flanked by dancers singing to “What You Waiting For?” Lenny Kravitz, clad in a black trenchcoat and tie, hair cropped short, followed performing “Lady.”
Country singer Gretchen Wilson won the best new artist, beating out innovative rap newcomer Kanye West and the band Maroon 5. Wilson lost to Reba McEntire in the category for top female country artist.
Backstage, West vented his disappointment over being shut out in all of his three nominations. “I feel I was definitely robbed...I was the best new artist this year,” West said. “I don’t know if I’ll be back at this award show next year.”
Nominees were chosen on the basis of record sales, with winners selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners.
Kimmel pokes fun at Simpson, Smith
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium.
“We’re here to celebrate the music and the performers who sing and or lip-sync it tonight,” Kimmel said in his monologue, poking fun at Ashlee Simpson’s recent “Saturday Night Live” faux pas.
Anna Nicole Smith, who wore a curve-hugging black and red gown, became a favorite target of Kimmel after she appeared at turns disoriented and manic when she took the stage to introduce a performance by West.
“I still think the best performance of the night was Anna Nicole Smith. I told her to stay away from Snoop Dogg’s brownies,” Kimmel quipped, referring to a show skit where the rapper and troubled singer Bobby Brown pretended to be selling “$100 brownies.”
Veteran rockers Bon Jovi received a special merit award and performed their hits “It’s My Life” and “Have A Nice Day.”
Singer Jon Bon Jovi called the award “surreal but much appreciated,” and thanked the New Jersey group’s fans: “Even when I couldn’t, you gave me the chance to dream.”
Ringo Starr, on tape, introduced a video clip of The Beatles that hadn’t been aired in 40 years. After the performance of “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Kimmel fell flat with a tongue-in-cheek declaration: “Boring.” Many in the audience booed the joke.
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