LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis led the early winners at the American Music Awards on Sunday, as some of pop music's biggest names came together for the fan-voted awards ceremony.
Timberlake, 32, picked up the prize for favorite male artist, beating out R&B singers Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke. The singer, who returned to the musical spotlight this year after a five-year hiatus with "The 20/20 Experience," was nominated in five categories, including the night's top prize for artist of the year. The singer performed with his Tennessee Kids band on stage, singing "Drink You Away."
Country-pop singer Swift, 23, won two early awards: the non-televised favorite female pop/rock award, and the televised favorite country album award for her 2012 record "Red."
"'Red' is very different from any album I've made before and the reason I was able to do that is because of the fans ... the fact that 6 million of you went out to buy it. That is crazy," the singer said during her acceptance speech.
Newcomer hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis led the nominees with six nods, including the night's top prize for artist of the year and the coveted new artist of the year. The duo picked up the favorite rap/hip-hop album for "The Heist" and Macklemore, speaking from Florida, used his acceptance speech to address a social issue.
"I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids who die every year due to racial profiling ... it's time we look out for the youth and fight racism and the laws that protect it," the rapper said. Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot dead in Florida in 2012. A jury this year cleared the shooter, George Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, of second-degree murder.
The American Music Awards nominees and winners are chosen by the public, who vote online and via Twitter, and the awards are given out during a live three-hour ceremony held at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles and broadcast on ABC.
Both Swift and Timberlake were beaten by British boy band One Direction in the favorite pop/rock album category, for its "Take Me Home" album. The band, whose fans were lined up in droves on the red carpet to get a glimpse of the members, performed its latest song "Story of My Life" from their album "Midnight Memories," to be released next week.
Rihanna, 25, picked up the favorite female soul/R&B award, her seventh overall American Music Award win and third in the category. Latin singer Marc Anthony, who won big last week at the Latin Music Grammys, won favorite Latin artist.
Singer Katy Perry kicked off the show with an elaborate geisha-themed stage for a performance of her latest single "Unconditional" from her album "Prism."
Other performances came from newcomer 20-year-old pop singer Ariana Grande, who showcased her vast vocal range with her Motown-inspired single "Tattooed Heart," and indie rock band Imagine Dragons, who performed a medley of their singles. Imagine Dragons beat out folk rock groups The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons to win favorite alternative rock artists.
Host and rapper Pitbull joined singer Ke$ha to sing their latest hit, "Timber," in a country dance-inspired performance.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)