Taylor Swift, Drake, K-pop stars BTS and others win big at the American Music Awards

South Korean superstars BTS were crowned artist of the year at the American Music Awards on Sunday, brushing aside challenges from Taylor Swift, Drake and The Weeknd as they took home a total of three awards.

“Seven boys from Korea, united by love for music, met the love and support from all the armies all over the world,” said RM, a member of the band, after the group won artist of the year for the first time.

“This whole thing is a miracle. Seriously, we would never take this for granted.”

The band was also named favourite pop duo or group and got the favourite pop song award for Butter.

The show celebrated the best popular music for a second pandemic year with a mix of live and pre-taped performances. Silk Sonic’s Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak kicked off the awards on a funky, R&B pre-taped note with their Smokin Out the Window and Jennifer Lopez pre-taped her performance of On My Way from her upcoming romantic comedy, Marry Me.

An earlier scheduled performance of Butter by BTS and Megan Thee Stallion was scrapped after the rapper cited personal reasons for dropping out Saturday. She turned out to be a big winner: named favourite female hip-hop artist, her Good News winning for favourite hip-hop album and her Body was crowned favourite trending song, a new award this year.

Taylor Swift nabs 34th AMA

Olivia Rodrigo came into the night with a leading seven nominations but only took home the crown for favourite new artist of the year. “Writing songs is my favourite thing in the whole world and I am so grateful for everyone who has embraced my music,” she said.

Rodrigo lost favourite pop album to Taylor Swift’s evermore. In a taped speech, Swift told her fans: “I’m so lucky to be in your life.”

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift, seen here at the 2019 American Music Awards, won for favourite female pop artist, giving her a career total of 34, the record for the most awarded artist in AMA history. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press)

Swift also won for favourite female pop artist, giving her a career total of 34, the record for the most awarded artist in AMA history.

Rodrigo performed her hit traitor live on a stage covered with flowers and Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean brought a little country to the stage with their pre-taped duet on If I Didn’t Love You. With a little help from Julieta Venegas and Tainy, Bad Bunny performed their hit Lo Siento BB:/.


Among live performances, Italian band Maneskin made their U.S. awards show debut with their viral hit Beggin‘. Chloe of Chloe x Halle floated down onto the stage to perform her hit debut single as a soloist Have Mercy, swinging her hair and twerking. Mickey Guyton got loud cheers while singing her patriotic song All American in a silvery dress, periodically screaming out “How y’all doing?” 

The fan-voted awards show aired live from Los Angeles on ABC. Nominees were based on streaming, album and digital sales, radio airplay and social activity, and reflect the time period of Sept. 25, 2020, through Sept. 23, 2021.

Becky G won for favourite female Latin artists and thanked the Latinx community. “You are not alone,” she said. “We are the American dream.”

Machine Gun Kelly grabbed the favourite rock artist award. “I want to accept this for all the aspiring musicians, the one who desires to play an instrument, wants to rap, wants to sing — not just the rock artists, but all the artists,” he said.

The Weeknd, Drake take home awards

Earlier Sunday, in awards announced before the show, Swift was named favourite female pop artist, Ed Sheeran got the favourite male award and Doja Cat featuring SZA on Kiss Me More was named collaboration of the year. Kanye West was named favourite gospel artist.

Underwood won for favourite inspirational artist and favourite female country artist and Doja Cat also won two other awards: favourite female R&B artist and her Planet Her was named favourite R&B album.

Luke Bryan was named favourite country artist and Bad Bunny was the favourite male Latin artist. The Weeknd was crowned favourite male R&B artist and Drake won the favourite male hip-hop artist. Gabby Barrett took home the favourite country album for Goldmine and favourite country song for The Good Ones.

For the older viewers, New Edition and New Kids on the Block performed together.

The Boston-based groups took turns trading hits: You Got It (The Right Stuff)Candy GirlStep By StepMr. Telephone Man and uniting for Can You Stand the RainIs This the EndHangin’ Tough and If It Isn’t Love.

The favourite Latin album went to Bad Bunny’s El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo.

Host Cardi B, wearing a constant stream of new outfits, revved up the crowd. Later her song Up was named favourite hip-hop song.

Rapper Cardi B, who also handled hosting duties, poses with the American Music Award for favorite hip-hop song for Up Sunday. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press)