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At Sunday night’s American Music Awards, you saw Selena Gomez bare her heart — and Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Lopez bare so much more — but there was plenty going on backstage at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater that didn’t make it to your TV screens.
Billboard had a crew on the red carpet, in the press room, backstage and in the audience to capture all the unseen action. See the rundown below (all times PT):
5:40 p.m.: A Taylor Swift dancer is overheard backstage saying he’s “afraid” to eat the cake offered by the caterers to the show’s crew. We can only assume this is because he has zero percent body fat and is on a dancer’s diet.
6:13 p.m.: Luke Bryan pauses backstage to watch Lorde’s performance of “Yellow Flicker Beat” on a monitor.
6:21 p.m.: Wyclef Jean tells reporters what it was like performing “Rude” with Magic! — and how he survived a wardrobe mishap. “Being onstage was incredible. We tore the place in half. I had a little malfunction with my jacket. I tried to take it off, but it got caught. I come from the Fugees, and the old-school style is that you keep going and you keep performing.” Jean’s 9-year-old daughter thought he made a good recovery, though she moved on pretty quickly. “She texted me: ‘Dad, you were incredible, but I gotta go because Iggy’s about to win an award…'”
6:29 p.m.: Sure, Luke Bryan has this country thing down pretty good, winning Favorite Male Country Artist for the third year in a row at Sunday’s show, but what if he had to switch genres? Well, as you can tell here and here, he’d clearly choose to become a rapper. “I don’t know if I’d have the voice to be some heavy-metal guy, so let’s just say hip-hop.”
6:50 p.m.: Ne-Yo explains why he and AMA host Pitbull are hoping lightning strikes twice. “We did it once with ‘Give Me Everything,’ and we’re doing it again with this one, ‘Time of Our Lives.’ My adrenaline is still pumping a little bit because I literally just got off stage, but it was electric, man. Pitbull always does his thing. And for whatever reason, people always like the energy between me and Pit, so we decided to do it again. Hopefully y’all like this one as much as y’all liked the first one.”
6:50 p.m.: After his Billboard video interview, Sam Smith stops to eat a gumball at our candy bar backstage. “I thought that was an M&M, but it’s not,” he says.
6:54 p.m.: Ariana Grande’s brother, Big Brother alum Frankie, is the easiest person to spot in the audience. Not only is his hair a bright-pink Mohawk, but he doesn’t sit still. Guy’s running laps and chatting up the Kardashians.
7:05 p.m.: Imagine Dragons are very excited to see Skylar Grey performing with Nicki Minaj on a nearby monitor. Just a few minutes later, when Grey gets backstage, she taps ID frontman Dan Reynolds on the shoulder and embrace.
7:08 p.m.: Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez share a big hug after her emotional live debut of “The Heart Wants What It Wants.”
7:12 p.m.: Wonder Years and Dancing With the Stars alum Danica McKellar presented the award for Favorite Alternative Rock Artist, and the eventual winners were very grateful. “Imagine Dragons won, and I read the name. And backstage here, I keep running into them, and they keep saying, ‘Thank you!’ All I did was read their name, but I want to say, ‘You’re welcome, because it was someone else’s name, but I just said yours, so you’re welcome!’ But they keep saying, ‘Thank you, thank you.’ They’re adorable.”
7:15 p.m.: Arguably the biggest backstage crowd of the night thus far gathers around a monitor to watch Taylor Swift accept her Dick Clark Award for Excellence from Diana Ross.
7:16 p.m.: 5 Seconds of Summer say they were “super unnatural” when accepting the prize for Favorite New Artist. “This is our first acceptance of anything. But it’s amazing, and it’s really inspirational to us, that we can do stuff like this and it’s not impossible. Being from Sydney, we never think we’d win an American Music Award. It’s the coolest thing ever for us.”
7:23 p.m.: The cameras are parked in front of Taylor Swift, and people come up at every commercial to take pictures and say hi.
7:26 p.m.: Imagine Dragons are happy with their performance but have bigger issues on their minds. “Sermon’s hair looked great, and in the end, that’s all that matters,” they joked of long-maned guitarist Daniel Wayne Sermon.
7:47 p.m.: Skylar Grey says her very casual ensemble for the night was just about being comfortable. “I have a really hard time wearing heels and dresses, because I hate feeling uncomfortable. If I have to sing or talk to anybody, I have to feel confident and comfortable, therefore I wear sneakers.”
7:54 p.m.: Instead of heading backstage after winning for Artist of the Year, One Direction’s Harry Styles grabs Niall Horan to sneak back into the audience for Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s “Booty” performance. Smart lads.
7:55 p.m.: There are audible gasps backstage as J.Lo bends over to begin the “Booty” performance.
8:02 p.m.: Spotify is a very controversial issue in the music business right now — so controversial that Favorite Country Album winner Brantley Gilbert didn’t want to touch it. “I don’t think answering that question is going to benefit me or you at all,” he says of where he stands on streaming. “Tonight for me was about the songs and the fans, and I had a blast accepting the award, and I’m not so sure I want to chase that question.”
8:17 p.m.: One Direction — all five members — stop by the Billboard video lounge backstage with their AMAs in tow. Styles notices an older gentleman outside, Ray Fraker, and invites him in to participate in their interview. As it turns out, Fraker has a production company called Karay Productions, which owns a lot of the trailers that the talent uses for big events — including this year’s AMAs. One would assume 1D befriended Fraker during the course of the AMA festivities. After Fraker comes in, we also notice Jessie J peeking through the curtain and waving to Styles and congratulating 1D on their wins before she slips away. To end the interview, we gift 1D with a whole bucket of sour belts candy as they exit.
With reporting by Katie Atkinson, Keith Caulfield, Colin Stutz & Laela Zadeh
This post originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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