American Music Awards 2012: 15 Things You Didn't See on TV Usher Carrie Underwood - H 2012
Getty Images Usher Carrie Underwood - H 2012

Regardless of whether the ratings on the American Music Awards are up or down this year (though, if you’re wondering: it’s the latter, to the tune of 21 percent), even the most casual of viewers has to appreciate that it’s no cakewalk coordinating 17 performances, 13 award presentations and a couple dozen presenters -- not to mention the few hundred reporters, photographers, dancers and minders milling about backstage, in the press room and among the corral of wardrobe and makeup trailers.

The Hollywood Reporter had eyes (and ears and noses) all over the Nokia Theatre on Sunday night. Read on for 15 things you didn’t see and tell us: what did you think of this year’s show?

  1. The red carpet was on fire (Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift all made brief dashes down the press and photographer line), but who really gave off heat? Jordin Sparks and Jason Derulo, who were super affectionate and ridiculously adorable as they constantly referred to each other as “baby.” 
  2. refused to divulge which designer he was wearing, but told THR he chose black to hide his "belly," since he's gaining weight, and added the gold glasses and hat to have a little shine so he wouldn't blend into the background. 
  3. Once the show gets off to a roaring start (thanks mostly to Justin Bieber for calling out the “haters”), VIPs start milling about the adjacent press area, watching monitors where they can. Among them: YouTube lip-synching sensation Keenan Cahill, who appears in EDM winner David Guetta’s Mega Mix video.
  4. During the commercial breaks, the Nokia Theatre’s 7,000-strong crowd was entertained by classic AMA clips, including appearances by Janet Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, NSync, Sly and the Family Stone and Prince.
  5. Usher sang the praises of Dick Clark, telling reporters that the late host was “so rich with culture” and has left “an incredible legacy” that transcended generations. As for the next gen pop phenom Justin Bieber, whom Usher has mentored, “The proof is in the pudding,” said the R&B star. “The longer you do it, the better of an example you can set. This is an early start for him. He's had incredible years, and we're gonna continue to push him to be his best self.”
  6. And the award for most social audience member goes to: Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, who buzzed around the room hopping from seat-to-seat, making sure to hang with Usher and ending the night next to his No. 1 client and the Bieber team.
  7. Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet chatted up Heidi Klum during a commercial break -- conveniently, they were sitting right in front one another.
  8. Oopsie: after presenting an award with Jenny McCarthy, Luke Bryan almost walked off the stage, forgetting to announce Carrie Underwood's performance.
  9. The country singer wasn’t the only one struggling with his cues: during Nicki Minaj’s second time at the podium, she addressed her barbz by looking in the wrong camera.
  10. After winning favorite country male artist, Luke Bryan promised a long night of partying. “I love celebrating when I win things like this,” he said. “I'm going to get right to the edge tonight and over it.”
  11. Back in the artists’ green room, presenters Backstreet Boys huddled with manager Peter Katsis while American Idol winner Phillip Phillips and girlfriend Hannah Blackwell munched on peanut butter cookies nearby.
  12. Press room pandemonium ensued as Psy and MC Hammer, still wiping off sweat from their grand finale performance moments earlier, pushed through packed crowds angling for a photo opp. Speaking to reporters, Hammer explained that he only brought out the pants for “special occasions” and that this AMAs finale certainly counted. Putting some perspective on the "Gangnam Style" craze,  Hammer continued: “Dance has only moved the planet four times: James Brown, Michael Jackson, yours truly with Hammer Time and then Psy. I loved doing it and we had a great time together.”
  13. At the neighboring JW Marriott hotel, Taylor Swift’s Big Machine labelmates Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line were unwinding with a beer and a whiskey soda at the downstairs bar while watching the west coast broadcast -- specifically, the part where they introduced Swift's performance of "I Knew You Were Trouble."
  14. Meanwhile upstairs in the third floor ballroom, Scooter Braun hosted a bash attended by scores of artists and industry insiders including: Braun clients Bieber, Psy and Carly Rae Jepsen along with, Karmin, Bieber attorney Aaron Rosenberg, Sony/ATV’s Jody Gerson, Prometheus Global Media CEO Dottie Mattison, AMAs producer Larry Klein and attorney Michelle Jubelirer, among many others.
  15. Even seat fillers got a taste of celebrity -- or, in one girl’s case, a whiff. Marveling at a photo one had taken with Chris Brown, she nonchalantly told a friend, “He smelled like weed.”

Bonus: Across town at the Rolling Stone AMAs afterparty, held at Hollywood and Highland's Rolling Stone LA restaurant and club, a motley crew of reality stars, actors and musicians mingled into the wee hours. Among the bold-faced names: Jamie FoxxGavin DegrawColbie CallaitAndy GrammerNikki Reed and Paul McDonaldGlee's Mark Saling and Chord Overstreet and American Idol's Pia Toscano and Blake Lewis.

With additional reporting by Sophie Schillaci and Karen Mizoguchi

Twitter: @THRMusic