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Justin Bieber Cleans Up at AMAs

Bieber and other big sellers are the big winners, but the American Music Awards are all about flashy and sometimes baffling performances

It was a Justin Bieber lovefest at the 38th American Music Awards, with the pint-sized Canadian winning four awards, including Artist of the Year.

Justin BieberBieber also won AMAs for Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Album in the Pop or Rock field, as well as the Breakthrough Artist Award. The 16-year-old Bieber, the youngest person ever to take the top award, won in every category in which he was nominated.

The show took place at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, and aired Sunday night on ABC.

The AMAs, which are chosen by fans through an Internet vote, unsurprisingly went to big sellers all down the line: Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas in the Pop/Rock categories, Usher and Rihanna in Soul/R&B, Eminem in Rap/Hip-Hop, Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood in Country.

With little actually riding on which bestselling artist would win each award, the ceremony has always been first and foremost a television show designed to showcase and sell music.

The song was long on flashy, glitzy and sometimes baffling performances, which ranged from a show-opening medley by Rihanna (below) to a joint performance by the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block at the end of the night.

RihannaOther performers included Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull, aided by that beloved awards-show staple, marching-band drummers; Dirty Diddy Money, the night’s best performance by a music mogul flanked by female singers wearing LaBelle’s castoff costumes from 1975; Kid Rock reminding us once more that he’s from Detroit; the Black Eyed Peas giving the “Dirty Dancing” song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” an entirely silly if somewhat catchy sci-fi/hip-hop makeover; Katy Perry and a children’s choir who, unlike the folks on “Sesame Street,” didn’t object to her cleavage; Bon Jovi doing some of their old songs, which they haven’t performed on TV for at least a week or so; Christina Aguilera hyping her new movie, “Burlesque”; Ke$ha and her best friend, Auto-Tune; and Santana and Gavin Rossdale bizarrely covering the T-Rex song “Bang a Gong (Get It On).”

Also noteworthy, at least by AMA standards: Taylor Swift had straight hair, and Miley Cyrus sported a goth look instead of her usual teen-tart stylings.

The full list of winners:

Artist of the Year: Justin Bieber

Favorite Male Artist, Pop or Rock: Justin Bieber
Favorite Female Artist, Pop or Rock: Lady Gaga
Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Pop or Rock: Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Album, Pop or Rock: Justin Bieber, “My World 2.0”

Favorite Male Artist, Soul/R&B: Usher
Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B: Rihanna
Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Usher, “Raymond v. Raymond”

Favorite Male Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop: Eminem
Favorite Album, Rap/Hip-Hop: Eminen, “Recovery”

Favorite Male Artist, Country: Brad Paisley
Favorite Female Artist, Country: Taylor Swift
Favorite Band, Duo or Group, Country: Lady Antebellum
Favorite Country Album: Carrie Underwood, “Play On”

Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist: Michael Buble
Favorite Alternative Rock Band: Muse
Favorite Latin Music Artist: Shakira
Favorite Artist, Contemporary Inspirational: MercyMe
Favorite Album, Sountrack: “Glee: The Music, Volume 3, Showstoppers”
Breakthrough Artist Award: Justin Bieber

(Photos by Getty Images. Bieber: Jason Merritt. Rihanna: Kevork Djansezian)