Stars gathered Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the 45th annual American Music Awards, hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross. Jamie Foxx and his daughter opened the show by talking about the tragic events of the year, including shootings, hate crimes and natural disasters.
“We needed the power of music to help us escape the news of the day we needed the power of music to help us heal,” said Foxx. He referred to 2017 as a year that “tested our faith.”
Foxx and his daughter stood in front of first responders, and Foxx praised them, saying they “ran toward the danger when it would have been so easy to run away.”
He said that people could look forward to 2018. “Together we shall overcome the pain,” he said “Together we can unite as a people and as a nation.”
Pink and Kelly Clarkson sang together for the first time, performing a soulful and emotional version of “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. The singers closed their song by hugging each other as the audience gave them a standing ovation.
“Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross took the stage in a larger-than-life bronze gown. She said it was a particularly special night for her, explaining, “My mother, the extraordinary Diana Ross is getting a lifetime achievement award.”
“We are the first ever mother and daughter who have ever hosted the American Music Awards,” Ross pointed out. “She did it twice, but there’s always next year.”
She also talked about how the night would celebrate Kelly Clarkson, and she paused to sing “A Moment Like This.” Then she announced that the show would also be honoring the 25th anniversary of the film “The Bodyguard,” starring Whitney Houston.
Ross admitted she was worried about hosting the AMAs because she doesn’t have an entourage, a stage name or a feud with another star.
Ross said the show would especially celebrate women and cracked, “There’s going to be some men singing too.” She said the show would be full of “women who take up space, trailblaze and blaze trails, women with expansive and powerful voices.” She introduced Demi Lovato’s performance.
Lovato got up from the audience as the AMAs stage showed hateful tweets directed at Lovato. She walked up to the stage to join her dancers and sang “Sorry Not Sorry” against a light-up sign that flashed “Sorry Not Sorry.”
Chadwick Boseman presented the award for pop rock duo or group, which went to Imagine Dragons, their third AMA. Frontman Dan Reynolds said, “This is a country that I know, which is one of powerful women, talking about our women, talking about empowering our LGBTQ youth. May we continue to progress as a nation toward one of love, of equality, no divide.”
Lea Michele and Chris Hartwick introduced Nick Jonas, who Hartwick called “a charging cable to the soul,” to the stage. Jonas sang “Find You,” flanked by female dancers in rhinestoned dresses.
Hailee Steinfield opened her performance of “Let Me Go” by walking through a stage made of light-up cells as she sang. Soon, Florida Georgia Line emerged and sang with Steinfeld.
Ciara presented the award for rap or hip-hop song, which went to DJ Khaled for his star-studded song, “I’m the One.” He gave a shout out to his adorable toddler son and said, “I want to thank my son, the executive producer.” Khaled thanked his collaborators and then told his fans, “I’m back in the studio, too. God is the greatest. Fan love, we did it.”
Lilly Singh and Sabrina Carpenter introduced Shawn Mendes to the stage to sing “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.”
Ahead of Diana Ross’ lifetime achievement award, Taylor Swift sent a video message to the singer, saying, “You have paved the way for everyone who does what we do now, including me, so thank you.”
Julia Michaels introduced Selena Gomez to the stage to sing “Wolves.”
“If you looked up bravery in the dictionary, you would find this next performer’s name,” said Michaels. “I’m so grateful I get to call this beautiful person my friend.”
Gomez’s performance opened with a car running amid a spooky forest-themed set. Gomez opened her performance by getting up off the floor with a fake gash on her head from in front of the car as Marshmello played the drums.
Kathryn Hahn and Justin Hartley presented favorite country male artist, which went to Keith Urban.
“I went to a concert last night and I danced my arse off. Everybody, go see live music, because it is medicine,” said Hahn.
Urban got a surprise when he hit the stage, because he also won best country song for “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and best country album for “Ripcord.” He gave a special shoutout to his wife, Nicole Kidman, who was in the audience.
The stars of “Riverdale” presented favorite EDM artist, which went to the Chainsmokers.
Tracee Ellis Ross introduced Viola Davis to the stage. Davis talked aboutand her movie “The Bodyguard” and said, “The movie has become iconic, thanks to its soundtrack, the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time. What a voice Whitney had, what an artist.”
Davis pointed out that Houston had the most AMAs of any female artist in history: 21. Houston’s family members were at the AMAs to honor the late singer. Davis then introduced Christina Aguilera, who was singing one of Houston’s most famous songs, “I Will Always Love You.” Aguilera wore a simple black dress as she paid tribute to Houston. Later, Aguilera sang “I Have Nothing” as scenes from “The Bodyguard” played behind her, bringing some in the audience to tears. Then Aguilera performed “I’m Every Woman.” Aguilera said to the crowd, “Come on. This is a Whitney celebration,” as they clapped along.
Jenna Dewan Tatum and Billy Eichner presented adult contemporary artist, which went to Shawn Mendes.
Heidi Klum introduced Lady Gaga’s performance of “The Cure.” Gaga performed from Washington, D.C., playing a clear piano and wore a partial mask over one eye. She got up from her piano to sing and dance on top a galactic-themed stage.
G-Eazy and DJ Khaled introduced Macklemore and Skylar Grey to the stage. Macklemore rapped as Grey sang and played the piano. Macklemore closed off the performance by saying, “Happy birthday, Grandma.” Afterward, Portugal. The Man performed “Feel It Still.”
Later, Ross wore the original shirt from her mother’s TV special with Michael Jackson that she claimed she found in the garage.
The stars of “Stranger Things” introduced a pared down performance of “Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara. Cara sang as Zedd played the piano, accompanied by a string ensemble.
Ansel Elgort and Yara Shahidi presented the award for pop rock female artist, which went to Lady Gaga. The show cut to Lady Gaga’s show in Washington, D.C. She said, “Just remember, if you feel different or you feel not understood, don’t you dare give up on who you are.”
Khalid took the stage to sing “Young Dumb & Broke,” but soon, Imagine Dragons joined him to perform “Thunder” and the artists played a mash-up of the two songs.
presented new artist of the year, which went to former One Direction member Niall Horan.
Ross introduced Pink’s performance of “Beautiful Trauma.” Pink started her performance from the top of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Los Angeles, suspended in the air by a cable. Pink sang and flipped in the air outside the hotel along with her dancers.
Ross returned to joke that the next season of “black-ish” would be filmed on the side of the J.W. Marriott.
Laura Marano and Patrick Schwarzenegger presented collaboration of the year, which went to Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber for “Despacito.” Fonsi dedicated his award to the.
Kelly Rowland and Kat Graham introduced Niall Horan’s performance of “Slow Hands.”
Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban presented favorite alternative artist, which went to Linkin Park. Member Mike Shinoda talked about late frontmanand said, “We want to dedicate this award to him, to his memory, to his talent, his sense of humor and to his joy. Remember you guys, all of you tonight, whether you’re a fan or an artist: Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve got and make Chester proud.”
Chrissy Metz and Jesse Tyler Ferguson introduced Kelly Clarkson, who opened her performance with a slowed-down version of “Miss Independent” before closing out the song in its original tempo. Clarkson then sang “Love So Soft.”
The Chainsmokers introduced South Korean boy band BTS. Though the members sang in Korean, many fans in the audience sang along.
Jared Leto took the stage and said, “In challenging times like these we need artists more than ever. Creative revolutionaries remind us of the possibilities of life,” as he presented artist of the year.won the award and though he was not at the show, he sent a video of his acceptance speech and said he was “a million miles away.” He continued and said, “Please forgive me. We will be back together very shortly.
Following that, former President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama sent in a congratulatory video message to Diana Ross.
“Her artistry resonates with everyone ad today her voice is still as pure, her beauty is undeniable and her showmanship is on point,” said Mrs. Obama.
Singer Evan Ross kicked off a tribute to his mother, Diana Ross.
“What do you get when you cross a chart-topping singer, trailblazing style icon, record-breaking pioneer international superstar and an all-around boss? Everybody you get my mom, Miss Diana Ross,” Evan said.
A video montage of Diana Ross’s life played which included childhood and early career photos before playing a throwback clip from Oprah’s daytime television show telling Ross she inspired her and that she grew up wanting to be just like the singer. The video continued with Ross voicing over the highlights of her career and life: “Through it all, there has always been music,” said her voiceover before the projection screen lifted and Ross launched into her song, “I’m Coming Out.” Then Ross sang “Take Me Higher” and “Ease on Down the Road.” The 73-year-old continued her medley of hits and sang “The Best Years of My Life” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and brought her grandchildren onstage with her. Then she asked her children to join her onstage: “Come on up,” she called out to her family members. She also called on Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy to take the stage.
The singer’s daughter Rhonda Ross Kendrick said, “You blazed a way. Not just for us your children, not just for women, not just for black folk or singers or performers or entrepreneurs, but for all of us.” She presented her mother with the lifetime achievement award.
Diana Ross accepted the award and said, “This is all about love. This says it all. This is my family. And I’m sending love out there to all of you each and every one of you, our global family … I feel so humbled by this. I love you so very much.” Her grandson, Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick, told her he loved her as the show came to a close just as 11 p.m. ET rolled around.