Pop & EDM music headline the 2016 American Music Awards

Hosts Jay Pharaoh & Gigi Hadid posed with an American Music Award. (Photo property of ABC & Dick Clark Productions)

Hosts Jay Pharaoh & Gigi Hadid posed with an American Music Award. (Photo property of ABC & Dick Clark Productions)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

One award show that I look forward to the most is the American Music Awards!

What sets the American Music Awards apart from other music award shows is that the public votes for their favorite artists, duos, or groups.

Tonight, the show returned to the Microsoft Theatre (formerly known as the Nokia Theatre) to honor some of the best artists in the Top 40 music world.  Did your favorites win? Read on to find out.

After a quick introduction from hosts Gigi Hadid and Jay Pharaoh, Bruno Mars kicked off the show by performing the title track of his third studio album: ‘24K Gold.” The two-time Super Bowl Halftime Show performer showcased his smooth moves and impeccable showmanship that pleased the Microsoft Theatre audience. The slight issue I had with the performance was Mars’ usage of strobe lights because I was looking away from the screen. A-

The Microsoft Theatre roared as Niall Horan’s solo debut at the AMAS. To be honest, I have not heard this song before, but I became very intrigued by Niall’s performance. I could see the former One Direction member take the acoustic singer-songwriter path by storm. Also, if I were Louis, Harry, or Liam, I would get into a recording studio ASAP, because they are going to have a hard time keeping up with Zayn and Niall’s progress. B

As Niall left the stage, another X Factor alum took the stage by storm: Fifth Harmony. It is amazing that this group was conceived four years ago on the now defunct X Factor USA. Minus those pesky strobe lights, their performance of “That’s My Girl” had the entire Microsoft Theatre audience on stage with superb choreography and vocals that I have not seen since Destiny’s Child.  Brava, ladies! B+

EDM duo The Chainsmokers were joined by Halsey and special guest star Travis Barker for an interesting performance of “Closer,” and in all honesty, it was a complete waste of time! I wished they asked Drake, Pink, or Beyonce to perform because they would knock it out of the park. F

Thank goodness, James Bay, saved the show segment with his heartbreaking hit: “Let It Go.” The viewers could barely hear the screaming fans as Bay’s honest vocals and strumming hypnotized the screaming pre-teens and college students.  B+

By the way, the cutaways of the adolescent girls started to get on my nerves…the production crew should have focused on the artists!

Shawn Mendes has been one artist I have been keeping my eye on this year. The founding Vine star has blown up faster than contemporaries Bieber or Cody Simpson in their heyday.  However, Mendes needed to focus on his vocals, because I thought he screeched parts of “Treat You Better” and “Mercy.” I know that he was showcasing his passion, but I was worried that he would blow out his vocal cords. C+ 

After Jay Pharaoh’s fantastic introduction, The Weeknd delivered a fiery performance of his first single: “Starboy.” He performed in a prism-like stage complete with flashy lights and outstanding vocals. Thanks to the way, he commanded the stage and his final vocal run, it was one of my favorite performances of the night. A-

“Bang Bang” collaborators Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj performed their hit: “Side to Side,” complete with shirtless men, twerking, and a tropical setting. The choreography was sexy as hell, but I could not decide if the future Hairspray Live star and former American Idol judge were lip-synching. C-

Chrissy Teagan introduced the love of her life, John Legend, to the AMA audience. For the first time, Legend performed “Love Me Now” without a piano. He gave me the first case of the goosebumps of the night. As he played the song, pictures of fans with their loved ones flashed across the screen and it was a spectacular visual delight. Bravo, Mr. Legend! A

Twenty-One Pilots performed a medley of hits with “Stressed Out” and “Heathens.” Their sound is dope, but I was a little surprised that they pulled a Sia and hid their faces. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning for the rap-rock duo. B

The AMAs joined Justin Bieber in Italy just in time for him to perform “Let Me Love You.” Despite all the gossip and constant mentions on Wendy Williams Show’s Hot Topics, the “Sorry” singer can throw one hell of a party. The fans were singing and dancing as the pop artist performed his EDM single and he would have stolen the show. A-

Matt Bomer introduced collaborator and one of the best Top 40 artists on the planet to the AMA stage: Lady Gaga.  In years past, Gaga used gimmicks such as dancers and flamboyant costumes to keep everyone’s attention. Tonight, Gaga accompanied herself on the electric guitar and stole the night with her powerful single from Joanne: “Million Reasons.” A+

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Green Day returned to the American Music Awards stage and put on a flawless performance of “Bang Bang,” which blew almost every single act that performed on the Microsoft Theatre stage out of the water. I wished that Dick Clark Productions team gave them another song to perform. I also liked the fact that they had a message for a certain President-elect that put a smile on my face! A

Sting’s longtime friend, Robert Downey, Jr., introduced the celebrated artist. Robert Downey, Jr. stated that Sting was the professor that the world needed and praised the “Brand New Day” singer’s charitable contributions. Sting took the stage and performed a medley of hits that included “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Every Breath You Take.” This was the performance I waited all night to see and I was not disappointed with his performance. Sting showcased so much art and soul on that stage than any acts who performed during the first half of the evening. A+

Rap’s rising star, DJ Khaled, joined forces with Nicki Minaj, August Alsina, Future, and Rick Ross for their uncanny performance: “Do You Mind?” Despite all of Khaled’s hype, this performance was just way too all over the place. There were too many elements and it annoyed the heck out of me. F

The winners of the 2015 American Music Awards were:

-Favorite Pop/Rock Duo or Group: Twenty-One Pilots

-Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Drake’s Views

-Favorite EDM Artist: The Chainsmokers

-Collaboration of the Year: Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign’s “Work from Home.”

-Favorite Country Song: Tim McGraw’s “Humble & Kind.”

-New Artist of the Year: Zayn

-Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist: Drake

-Top Soundtrack: Prince’s Purple Rain

-Favorite Country Duo or Group: Florida Georgia Line

-Favorite Alternative Rock Artists: Twenty-One Pilots

-American Music Award of Merit: Sting

-Favorite Pop/Rock Female: Selena Gomez  

Artist of the Year: Ariana Grande

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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar