The American Music Awards' long list of performances on Sunday night by the tops in Pop, Rock, R&B, and Country music genres displayed lots of theatrical costumes and sets from Lady Gaga's flaming piano to Jennifer Lopez's glittering boxing ring, but there were few surprises. As Taylor Swift took five awards including best artists and album, the most emotional moment was Whitney Houston's performance.
Houston made a rousing comeback with the seemingly autobiographical "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," which got a standing ovation. Actor Samuel L. Jackson presented her with the AMAs' seventh International Artist Award to honor her worldwide success. Houston plays a series of European dates next month.
A shockwinner was little-known country act Gloriana, who won Breakthrough Artist of the year instead of the anticipated Lady Gaga. Accepting the trophy, one of the members suggested the audience might not know who they are or that they opened for Taylor Swift's US tour.
The 19-year-old Swift added five American Music Awards to her collection, winning all but one of her six nominations, beating out Jackson, Lady Gaga and Eminen for best artists of the year. She accepted her awards from backstage at Wembley Arena after rehearsals for concert UK dates.
Michael Jackson won four posthumous awards, including favorite male pop-rock and soul-R&B artist. Jermaine Jackson accepted the awards on behalf of his late brother.
The American Music Awards reflect the popular vote for favorite musical artists, also combining record sales, radio airplay and input from online fan voting, instead of the industry vote for the best with the Grammy winners.
Other highlights include Aventura who took the Latin music prize and the music for the hit movie Twilight for the soundtrack category.
Here's the breakdown:
Artist of the year - Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist - Michael Jackson
Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist - Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group - The Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Pop/Rock Album - Number Ones - Michael Jackson
Favorite Country Male Artist - Keith Urban
Favorite Country Female Artist - Taylor Swift
Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group - Rascal Flatts
Favorite Country Album - Fearless - Taylor Swift
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Artist - Jay-Z
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album - Blueprint 3 - Jay-Z
Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist - Michael Jackson
Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist - Beyoncé
Favorite Soul/R&B Band, Duo or Group - The Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Soul/R&B Album - Number Ones - Michael Jackson
Favorite Soundtrack Album - Twilight Soundtrack
Favorite Alternative Rock Artist - Green Day
Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist - Taylor Swift
Favorite Latin Artist - Aventura
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist - Mary Mary
Breakthrough Artists - Gloriana