American Music Awards 2013: Best, Worst and Most Head-Scratching Moments

The American Music Awards, like so many of its counterparts, is less about who takes home shiny new trophies and more about who gets labeled a “winner” or “loser” based on performances and podium banter.

The 2013 installment of the AMAs proved no different — which is why we’ve put together our own set of prizes tied to Sunday night’s telecast.

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Who gave the Most Disappointing Performance? Who was surprisingly great? Whose acceptance speech might’ve raised some eyebrows? And who wins the booby prize for Most Tragic Presenter Credentials at an Awards Show of All-Time Ever? Click through the pictures below to find out — then hit the comments with your own take on the 2013 AMAs!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jo says:

    GaGa was awesome. It’s a pity that these days people seem to prefer Katy Perry barely singing Max Martin songs.

    • Rashad says:

      Lady Gaga’s performance with R. Kelly was FANTASTIC! Lady Gaga is by far the most creative and talented female artist in music right now.

  2. Zach says:

    My favorite performances were Christina, Miley’s vocal, and Lady Gaga’s performance tied together awesome vocals and a cool performance. Much improved from her awkward SNL outing of this song.

  3. Chuck Finley says:

    I think maybe someone should clue Miley in that the vast majority of the audience is not high on drugs all the time so a signing kitten crying diaminds probably just looks completely silly to them. She has a really great voice, but it’s too bad that no one with any sense should let their kids listen to or buy her music with her heavy reference to drugs. She’ll be dead all too son if she doesn’t wake up.

    • ajintexas says:

      singing kitten crying diamonds*

    • Mark says:

      She didn’t look “high” on drugs as you put it! Her perforance was good! Could have done with out the cat in backround though

    • Sarah says:

      It was better then Gaga humping R Kelly… that performance was aweful! Miley’s vocals where amazing and much better then Gaga’s. I guess Swift didn’t perform because she can’t sing live! That is one overrated girl!

    • Greg says:

      heavy references to drugs…? sure, because thats the one thing parents are saying is in appropriate about her, crawl back into your hole.

  4. Kaba says:

    Ariana Grande just…YESSSS
    Meanwhile I’m peeved. Don’t you dish any hate on “Drink You Away”
    That’s my favorite song on 20/20 pt.2! Aside from Amnesia and Cabaret!
    And then Lady Gaga and R.Kelly…

    • Tom Hunter says:

      Ariana was fantastic!!!!! And I was even more surprised when my daughter explained that she started on Victorious and now is on Sam and Kat!!!

      This. Girl. Can. Sing!!!!!!

      • Terry says:

        Her speaking voice on Sam and Kat is unbearable so I wasn’t expecting that at all. And props to her for not dressing like a skank, thank you!!!

  5. says:

    It’s hard to find experienced people in this particular topic,
    but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  6. karenb says:

    This Floridian says Go Macklemore. Love this guy.

  7. Fave performance was definitely Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. I also loved JT’s response to Sarah, “First time I’ve ever been racially profiled by a white woman.” He’s so sassy.

  8. Delon says:

    Christina never looked better. Wow.

  9. JJ says:

    Miley can sing.

  10. Mare says:

    Mileys performance of Wreaking Ball was great. Wish she would have worn a beautiful gown though!

  11. justsaying says:

    Overrated performances by all. The show doesn’t need to be aired, it gets worse and worse each year. The voting system sucks especially if someone like Tay Swift wins AOTY!!! Go figure!

  12. Joey says:

    Worst thing about the AMAs? How about the entire thing. Can’t believe Once got bumped for this.

    • NJMark says:

      Oh get a grip. Once is going to air its usual full season. Does it really matter *which* 22 Sundays it’s on?

      • Joey says:

        Actually it does a bit, as we were promised 11 weeks in a row. Now they seem to be missing one. So thanks to ABC, we’ve got a promise broken already.

        Also, people actually watched the AMAs?

  13. Steph says:

    Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, and JLO were the good. Everything else was bad.

  14. davey says:

    The Katy Perry number was offensive and racist and yes, her vocal was awful as usual. Showing up in a geisha outfit was certainly retro in the worst way.

  15. Peachypuzz says:

    I’m sorry, but what are you talking about regarding Ariana grande? What do you mean her back up singers bought what she couldn’t deliver? She DELIVERED. She sounds better than most Nickeldeon singers nowadays.

    • Terry says:

      He specifically said “movement and energy”, he never said she didn’t deliver vocally.

      • iamjsm says:

        Which I thought was weird because right after he said that about Ariana, he praised Chrstina. Don’t get me wrong she did great, but she didn’t bring movement or energy either.

  16. schu says:

    I’m not even a JT fan, but I heard that song awhile ago and was happy with his performance of it. And Ariana’s vocals were killer. I thought Gaga & R. Kelly were no where near the top of best performance. If anything it was completely offensive being JFK’s assassination anniversary and why at the end did she have a video of herself as a child playing piano whilst singing the words “Do what you want with my body” so dramatically? I didn’t get it.

    • George TheOnion says:

      Yes, Gaga had the best performance. Her vocals were great, her dancing was great, and the sum of it was great, ergo best performance. Jesus, it’s not offensive. Please tell me how it’s offensive. As the outro kicks in, you can hear her singing these last few lines very emotionally. And even though she is portraying a more vulnerable side of her (“Help me now”), she maintains a serious tone. She wants to remind the listener one last time that she will not be trampled on, that she will stand for what she believes in, her ideals. No matter what the public may think or what the media might make of her actions, she will remain true to herself and her fans. She will not be changed or brought down by anyone.

  17. Tinemi says:

    I’m loving JLo rendition of Celia Cruz… Celia was a queen and it was nice to hear her hits sung in spanish. That was so good! JLo should make a tribute CD, I would buy that!

  18. Ron says:

    Ariana Grande deserves more praise from you, Michael. That song doesn’t call for her to be bouncing all over the stage, and her vocals proved she is crazy talented and far beyond many other in that room in terms of singing.

    Miley was shockingly good, vocally. But that damn cat. She probably could’ve shut a lot of people up is she just *sang* the song without any gimmicks. What was a pretty good vocal was knocked down several pegs for a stupid cat.

    Sarah Silverman = definitely best introduction of the night. Hysterical. And I loved JT’s response.

    Gaga is really talented. But she drives me up a wall with her stupid antics. This performance was relatively tame in comparison to some in the past. But she never had to rely on the crazy stuff, yet she did. It just frustrates me when people with actual talent do stupid things to get famous. If the industry doesn’t consider your voice good enough (though hers is), then run and don’t let them ruin you.

    What was that TLC crap? They weren’t singing; it was clearly their original recording. Only one who sang live was Lil’ Mama because everyone would know the difference between her and Left Eye’s voices, but she sucked big time. How did they choose her to sing Left Eye’s part. And their choreography … geez. The less said about that the better. I lost track of how many times they (very obviously) messed up.

    People can say what they want about her, but Christina proved why she’s a superstar. Not only does she have one of the best voices of the generation, but the story she told through emotion while just standing there is talent through and through.

    Still don’t like Rihanna, and Katy Perry needs to run, not walk, to a vocal coach.

  19. Steve F. says:

    Favorite performances: Katy Perry (though the sound was off, the production was nice), Lady Gaga & R. Kelly, Imagine Dragons, Florida Georgia Line backing up Nelly on “Ride Wit’ Me”, Pitbull & Ke$ha (yes, I liked it), Macklemore, and Ariana Grande (what’s with the hate? Girl sang better than Miley!).

    Most adorable moment: Ariana Grande going onstage to receive her award (where I thought she’d have a Jennifer Lawrence moment), pulling her thank you list from the front of her dress, and finishing her thank yous in under 10 seconds.

    Most feathered hair since Taylor Swift: Harry Styles of One Direction (seriously, did you see that thing?)

  20. Cathy WM says:

    Enjoyed Imagine Dragons immensely. Their music is fresh and passionate & this talented band is amazing in concert!

  21. cynfull says:

    miley cyrus’ outfit looks like she borrowed it from jane fonda or olivia newton john from ‘let’s get physical’. the outfit must be very tailored to avoid any slipping.

  22. Aaron says:

    I was at the AMA’s last night and here’s my recap: 1. The sound at the Nokia Theater was WAY better than it sounded on TV. 2. While I don’t love Katy Perry at all, her “performance” was GORGEOUS live. 3. The person that needs to be added to the list of “annoying” celebrities (like Anne Hathaway and Gweneth Paltrow) – Taylor Swift. Just BARF. 4. I have never listened to a 1D song in my life, so I was surprised they could sing. I just didn’t realize their music was so “country” or “folk”-ish. 5. I saw T-Bozz in the lobby pre-show and she looked a hot mess. Sorry, I am a HUGE TLC fan, but these ladies need to let it go. 6. Ariana Grande was AMAZING. So was J-Lo, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake. 7. Christina Aguilera was just so GORGEOUS (vocally, visually, just in every way). Miley was incredible too – her voice sounded really great at the theater. 8. Not sure what Slezak saw at home, but the crowd at the theater was ALL OVER the Imagine Dragons performance – in fact I went home after the show to make sure I had their music.

  23. Britt says:

    I thought the AMAs were pretty boring, but I did like Ariana, J.Lo, and Lady Gaga was pretty good too. Also Rihanna sounded way better than her other performances. I was pleasantly surprized! I wonder why most of the performances were slow songs? It made the show even slower. And yes TLC was kind of random and they looked like they didn’t want to be there.

  24. Kel507 says:

    I think what Slezak might have been been referring to with Ariana Grande was the lack of energy and charisma. Her vocals were spot on and beautiful, but she barely opened her eyes during her performance and it almost felt like she was singing for herself rather then the audience. Maybe it was a case of nerves. But it was just one performance and it’s clear that girl has a bright future!!!
    Loved Jennifer Lopez’s performance. She sounded better then ever and looked amazing! So glad she did a tribute to such a legend like Celia Cruz!
    Also loved Gaga and R. Kelly (and I am not a fan of his), Miley sounded great, but all of her Gaga-equse theatrics just take away from her vocals and the touching song. Loved the country performers and JT never lets me down. All in all a pretty entertaining night.

  25. LadyCACA says:

    Lord, I guess I’d rather be uncultured than to say I enjoyed Caca’s performance. It was a silly skit, it was uninspired, unfunny, but I guess that’s what people like these days. As for Miley, WTF was up with that cat? I mean that was just weird, and not in an artistic way.

  26. Nikki says:

    I’m sorry, but from what I gathered of Lady Gaga’s performance as a take on the whole JFK/Marilyn affair I thought was in poor taste as we just came off the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

    • c-mo says:

      IMHO, Ariana had the best vocals of anyone, bar-none, of the evening. Miley oversang (but I doubt anyone noticed because they were trying to figure out the Jane Fonda-inspired costume and singing kitty), Gaga and RK were just, well gross and JT, seriously? I think he asked everyone he could find to join him on stage. And finally, Marc Anthony needs to fire his assistant because they forgot to remind him that he was presenting and winning and they just barely caught him as he was on his way to cut down his winter firewood.

    • NaomiP says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Not only was it stupid, but totally disrespectful. Waiting three months or so would have been considered questionable–but three days? Seriously? A total idiot–smh….. I used to enjoy her music, now, I just find her vapid and pathetic.

  27. A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s performance is the best one in my opinion. Wow! Christina’s vocals when she’s not oversinging. Just wow!

    Anyway, shoutout to the awesome Demons performance by Imagine Dragons too.

  28. HTGR says:

    “Most Tragic Presenter Credentials at an Awards Show of All-Time Ever

    “This month’s Maxim cover girl, Paulina Gretzky!”

    Not even Kendall Jenner’s “you can see her on Keeping Up With the Kardashians” sounded more depressing. ”
    Depressing….ly awesome!