American Music Awards: 14 Highlights from the 2019 Music Awards Show

9:13 PM 11/24/2019

by Allison Crist, Alexandra Del Rosario, Katherine Schaffstall, and Abbey White

From Taylor Swift's record-breaking win to Lizzo's "Jerome" performance debut, here's a roundup of Sunday night's most memorable moments.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The who's who of the music industry came together at Downtown Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater for the 2019 American Music Awards. 

Sunday night's show featured Ciara as host and saw a number of notable moments, including moving performances and powerful speeches. 

Some of the highlights from the 47th AMAs include Taylor Swift's speech upon receiving the show's artist of the decade award, Billie Eilish making her award show debut and others celebrating their history with the annual show.

From the night's energetic numbers to epic tributes, here are the most memorable moments from the 2019 American Music Awards. 

Dick Clark Productions, which produces the American Music Awards, is a division of Valence Media, which owns The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Selena Gomez Debuts Live Performances of New Singles

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

    Selena Gomez returned to the AMAs stage after two years with a double performance of her new singles, "Lose You To Love Me" and "Look At Her Now."

    The rendition of Gomez's emotional ballad "Lose You To Love Me," was shot in black and white and kicked off the music awards show. The singer donned a floor-length, long-sleeved black dress. When it came time for the upbeat "Look At Her Now," Gomez reappeared in a sparkly bodysuit (and in color).

    The AMAs' cameras showed a number of audience members singing and dancing along with Gomez, including her close friend Taylor Swift.

  • Ciara's Hosts and Debuts "Melanin"

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp
    Most award show hosts make a grand entrance for their opening sequence, and Ciara was no different.
     
    Descending from a glittery hoop, Ciara kicked off her time as the 2019 American Music Awards host with a debut performance of her latest hit, "Melanin."
     
    "My girls in every shade... fixing crowns, that's my thing," Ciara sang. "Yeah, he love that chocolate."
     
    As the performance went on, singer La La joined Ciara at the Microsoft Theater to bust out moves with the show's host and backup dancers. After the quick performance, Ciara took a moment to greet the crowd and talk about getting the chance to host the 2019 AMAs.
     
    "It just feels so good," she said. "It just feels so surreal." 
  • Halsey Gets Messy With Creative "Graveyard" Performance

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    After winning one of the first awards of the evening — favorite pop/rock song for "Without Me" — Halsey later returned to the AMAs stage to perform her new single, "Graveyard."

    The singer, along with a dancer, wore all-white ensembles that eventually served as canvases as the two splattered paint on each other. By the time the performance was over, both were covered with a variety of bright colors.

  • Lizzo Shines During AMAs Debut

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

    In less than a year, Lizzo has taken command of the charts with her unforgettable sound and lyrics. And during her American Music Awards debut, she delivered a personal spin to her characteristically passionate persona, wearing a thigh-slitted pink ruffled dress while delivering a powerful and soul-stirring rendition of her Cuz I Love You single, “Jerome.”

    As she sang alone on stage, the cell phone-waving crowd could be seen both in front of her, and reflected behind her on a large screen, giving off the illusion that the “Truth Hurts” and “Juice” singer was surrounded by a sea of twinkling stars. 

  • Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes' "Seniorita" Performance

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello brought their will-they-or-won't-they performance of "Señorita" to the Microsoft Theater stage for the 2019 American Music Awards.

    Only Mendes and Cabello performed the hit, making for an intimate rendition of the number. Throughout the performance, the two walked around each other, held each other in their arms and got cozy. 

    Though they teased the audience with their steamy chemistry, the two did not share a kiss when the song came to an end. 

    Cabello, after a few award presentations and other performances, returned to the stage to perform her hit "Living Proof." The sensual number saw the singer donning white lace and dancing intimately with her dancers. 

  • Kesha and Big Freedia Treat Fans to "TiK ToK" and "Raising Hell"

    JC Olivera/Getty Images

    Big Freedia and Kesha took those attending the AMAs to church with a gospel-inspired performance of "Raising Hell." The two sported white and blue satin ensembles with Catholic stoles draped over their shoulders. 

    They sang to the beat as they and their backup dancers shook "what god gave [them]." 

    After the first number, Kesha remained onstage to perform "TiK ToK," the party anthem that put her on the map in 2010. 

  • Toni Braxton Proved Her Voice Is Timeless With "Un-Break My Heart"

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    It's been 25 years since R&B legend and vocal soul queen Toni Braxton made her 1994 American Music Awards debut and won the favorite adult contemporary new artist and favorite soul/R&B new artist.

    It's been nearly as long — almost 20 years — since the voice behind hits like "Breathe Again" performed at the ceremony. But in her return to the awards show stage, Braxton delivered a breathtaking performance "Un-Break My Heart," the breakup ballad that made her a household name.

    Dressed in a snowy white gown, Braxton's smooth, rich voice reverberated throughout the Microsoft Theater while the images of cascading snowfall drifted behind her and a string orchestra encircled her. It was a timeless performance from a timeless artist.

  • Billie Eilish's Awards Show Debut Performance

    JC Olivera/Getty Images

    Billie Eilish brought her gritty, edgy energy to the AMA stage for her awards show debut. Wearing an oversized shirt clad with rhinestone flames, the newly-minted AMA winner performed "All The Good Girls Go To Hell."

    Eilish jammed with the onstage band, spun and stomped as flames burst in the background. Eilish took home a total of two awards for the six categories she was nominated for, including new artist and favorite alternative artist. 

  • Halsey Questions Worth of Awards During Acceptance Speech

    John Shearer/Getty Images

    At the 2019 AMAs, Halsey took home the prize for favorite pop/rock artist.

    The singer, who won for her number "Without Me," questioned the worth of awards like the one she received on Sunday night during her acceptance speech. 

    "These trophies... were supposed to be some kind of validation for the soul-crushing and heartache-inducing work of writing a song and bringing it to life," she said upon receiving the AMA trophy.

    She went on to say how she fell for the "fairytale" and that since breaking into the scene, she's come to have a different regard for awards and accolades.

    "Sometimes you grow up and the things you believe in lose their magic, but music doesn't," the singer said.

    She ended her speech by thanking the AMAs for giving fans and music enthusiasts the chance to vote for their favorite artists. 

  • Jonas Brothers Perform "Only Human" From Boston Tour Stop

    Courtesy of Cynthia Parkhurst

    The Jonas Brothers performed their hit song "Only Human" at the AMAs, though Nick, Joe and Kevin weren't actually in attendance at the awards show in Los Angeles. Instead, the band delivered a special live performance, their first AMA number since 2008, from the Boston stop of their Happiness Begins tour.

    The crowd at the sold-out show sang along to the single as the siblings, all dressed in different variations of black, danced around the stage at TD Garden.

  • Green Day Brings AMAs To Their Feet

    JC Olivera/Getty Images

    Green Day went back to their suburban anxiety roots for an American Music Awards performance that brought the show's audience to its feet.

    Celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1994 breakthrough album Dookie, the trio performed one of their earliest hits, "Basket Case," which helped shoot the California musicians to the stop of the rock charts and launched their still thriving, multi-decade career.

    The rousing rendition got the crowd jumping and dancing as Green Day embodied much of their early career energy. Marking the third time the American punk rockers graced the American Music Award stage, their Sunday performance also featured a darker performance of their new "Father of All…" single. 

     

     

     

  • Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World Reunite to Perform New Single

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World, who previously joined forces on the emotional hit song "Say Something," came together again at this year's AMAs.

    Chad King and Ian Axel make up the musical duo, and along with Aguilera, they performed the new collaborative single "Fall On Me." Aguilera was front and center in a dramatic, long gown as she belted out the song.

     

  • Taylor Swift Sings Medley of Old Hits, Accepts Artist of the Decade Award

    Taylor Swift proved why she is the artist of the decade when she performed a medley of her old and new hits during the American Music Awards.

    Swift opened her performance by singing "The Man," followed by throwback hits including "Love Story," "I Knew You Were Trouble," "Blank Space," "Shake It Off" and "Lover." The pop star was joined by Camila Cabello, Halsey, Misty Copeland and Craig Hall during the performance.

    Following the nostalgic numbers, Swift thanked presenter Carole King for inspiring her as an artist.

    "I just remembered that when I fell in love with music, it was right around the time I realized how marvelous it was that artists could transcend so many different phases and changes in peoples' lives," she told King. "You taught me that that's a possibility."

    Swift added that every artist in the room wants "to create something that will last."

    "The fact that this is an award that celebrates a decade of hard work and of art and of fun and memories, all that matters to me is the memories that I've had. With you guys, with you the fans, over the years," she said. "We've had fun, incredible, exhilarating, extraordinary times together and may it continue."

    "Thank you for being the reason why I am on this stage. From the very first day of my career until tonight," she concluded. "I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for everything."

    In addition to winning artist of the decade, Swift won artist of the year and favorite album-pop/rock for Lover. 

    Prior to the 2019 ceremony, Michael Jackson held the record for most AMAs with 24 wins. Swift has won more AMAs than any other artist this decade, while she has also earned the most AMAs of any female artist in history. She officially beat Jackson's record when she won artist of the year, favorite album-pop/rock, favorite female artist-pop/rock, favorite artist- adult contemporary and favorite music video for "You Need to Calm Down."

  • Shania Twain Returns to AMA Stage With Medley of Popular and Personal Hits

    Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

    After a 16-year absence from the American Music Awards stage, leading country artist Shania Twain made her very big and very pink return on Sunday night.

    While her performance paid homage to her biggest hits, including "Man! I Feel Like A Woman" and "You're Still The One," it began with a dark, stripped-down cover medley, which saw her tackle hits from Twenty One Pilots, Taylor Swift and Drake.

    But it wasn't long before Twain morphed, swirling around the stage in a pink, floor-length cover and a glittering body suit, reminding us just why she loves to feel like a woman.