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Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift win big at American Music Awards

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. 

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    Image: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne. Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles

    2013 American Music Awards

    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.

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    No 'Direction' but up -

    From left, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Harry Styles of musical group One Direction, accepted the award for favorite pop/rock album for "Take Me Home" at the American Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.

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    Way to go, J.Lo -

    Singer Jennifer Lopez performed during the awards.

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  • Image: Rihanna accepts the Icon Award from her mother Monica Fenty at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Thanks, Mom -

    Rihanna accepted the Icon Award from her mother Monica Fenty, who praised her daughter's positive attitude in the face of challenges.

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    Miami nice -

    Macklemore, right, and Ryan Lewis accepted the award for favorite rap/hip-hop album for "The Heist" via satellite from Miami. Macklemore used the fact that the two were in Florida to encourage viewers to fight against racial profiling, specifically mentioning the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

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    Guitar man -

    Justin Timberlake won multiple awards, including favorite male pop/rock artist, favorite male soul and R&B artist, and favorite soul and R&B album for "The 20/20 Experience."

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    Host with the most -

    Awards show host Pitbull performed his song "Timber" with Ke$ha, left.

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  • Image: Hubbard and Kelley of Florida Georgia Line perform "Ride Wit Me" with Nelly at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Out for a ride -

    Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line performed "Ride Wit Me" with Nelly at the awards.

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    Just their imagination -

    The band Imagine Dragons performed a medley at the awards. The band won the alternative artist award.

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  • Image: Singer Ariana Grande performs a medley of songs at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Torchlight -

    Small but mighty, singer Ariana Grande performed a medley of songs at the AMAs, then later won new artist of the year -- charming the audience with a speed-reading of her "thank you" list while accepting the prize.

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  • Image: Musician Justin Timberlake accepts the favorite pop/rock male artist award at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Man of the hour -

    Justin Timberlake picked up the first award of the evening, accepting the favorite pop/rock male artist prize. He thanked his fans for making it all happen.

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  • Image: Katy Perry performs "Unconditionally" at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Flower lady -

    Katy Perry, dressed in full geisha outfit, sang her song "Unconditionally" to kick off the AMAs.

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  • Image: Miley Cyrus performs "Wrecking Ball" at the 41st American Music Awards in Los Angeles

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    Cat lady -

    Miley Cyrus played off her recent controversial image by wearing an outfit decked out with kittens and performing in front of a huge image of one.

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    Axel and Aguilera -

    Musician Ian Axel of A Great Big World and singer Christina Aguilera perform during the awards.

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    Hold the line -

    Brian Kelly and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line strutted on the red carpet at the AMAs. Later on the show they sang "Cruise," then were joined by Nelly for "Ride Wit Me."

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    Seeing red -

    Taylor Swift went sheer and sparkly at the AMAs on the red carpet. Later on she earned an award for best country album for "Red," and said her fans were "everything" to her.

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    Horsing around -

    Lady Gaga kicked off the AMAs with a bang, or rather, a whinny: She was carried down the red carpet astride a fake white horse piloted by two people and led by a third. She told E!'s Giuliana Rancic that it was meant to be reminiscent of "Bianca Jagger arriving at Studio 54 on her white horse."

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    Ahead of the action -

    N'Sync member and TV personality Lance Bass helped get the party started at the AMAs by hosting the live-streamed red carpet preshow.

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    Suits her -

    Agent provocateur Miley Cyrus was her usual enthusiastic self on the red carpet at the awards, but took a slightly toned-down look with a white suit (though complete with plunging jacket neckline).

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    Back to back -

    Musician James Durbin and his wife Heidi Lowe were armed and extremely adorable on the red carpet at the AMAs.

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    Seeing spots -

    Katy Perry arrived at the AMAs in a sweeping strapless black dress festooned with flowers and dots, but by the time she opened the show she'd changed into full geisha gear to perform "Unconditionally."

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    Bound and determined -

    "Thor" actress Jaimie Alexander strolled the red carpet in a dark, but shiny, criss-cross look.

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    Following directions -

    Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Niall Horan, aka One Direction, gathered on the red carpet at the AMAs prior to their performance of "Story of My Life" live on the show.

    Getty Images Contributor / Getty Images Contributor
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    Just a minute -

    "American Horror Story" actress Emma Roberts waved at photographers and fans on the red carpet ahead of the awards in a shiny, foil-like dress; she also introduced One Direction as her favorite band.

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    Keeping it casual -

    Marc Anthony left his fancy duds at home and attended the AMAs in plaid and denim, and after walking the red carpet presented the Soul/R&B Female Artist award with Zoe Saldana to Rihanna. He also won the award for favorite Latin Music artist.

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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.

Jordan Strauss / Today
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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