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2017 American Music Awards, a night of dazzling performances and uplifting messages

By Rebecca Goldfarb

Section: Arts

December 1, 2017

Self empowerment was the main theme of the 2017 American Music Awards (AMAs), broadcasted on Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. Stars shined throughout the evening as many different artists across all genres were recognized for their achievements and impact in popular music throughout the year. The awards honored legendary women like Whitney Houston and Diana Ross for their successes and influences on music throughout the decades. There was no drama between artists like there often is at MTV Video Music Awards.The AMAs solely focuses on the celebration of music and extraordinary artists.

The show was hosted by actress and model Tracee Ellis Ross, who carried on the show with charisma and enthusiasm. Ellis Ross is the daughter of Diana Ross, making Tracee and Diana the first mother/daughter pair in history to host the American Music Awards. Tracee wore many unique outfits throughout the night each time she made an appearance on stage. Her main outfit highlight was a ruffled gold dress formed in the shape of a turkey during her introduction speech at the beginning of the Awards Show. Another piece she wore that stood out was an outfit Diana Ross wore along with Michael Jackson for one of her musical specials.

Performances played a significant role in this award show, and most of the performances stood out as numbers that have never been done before. P!nk and Kelly Clarkson each performed twice during the AMAs. These female pop sensations opened the night covering R.E.M’s rock ballad, “Everybody Hurts.” The duo’s well-delivered performance occurred after many first responders on stage were honored, so this song fit the context of the mood by singing for hope.

P!nk’s performance later in the show is by far one of the most stellar ones of the night. She performed her new hit song “Beautiful Trauma” while hanging from a wire on the side of a building executing death-defying stunts. She performed alongside aerial stunt dancers and sung, astonishingly, without a hint of fear in her voice, flipping through the air the same way she would have sung if she was standing on stage.

Some of the best performances took place in the middle of the award show. Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” performance was definitely a surprise. The recording of the song itself is mediocre, but the live performance incorporated guitars, turning the generic pop recording into dynamic, impressive rock performance. The performance served as a step up from his past award show performances.

Lady Gaga performed her latest song “The Cure” live at her concert in Washington, D.C., and her performance was broadcasted on the screen of the AMAs. Since this performance was targeted more for an arena and not for an award show, she had more freedom with what she could do, so the performance included an abundance of lighting effects and choreography. Her outfit was gorgeous and her powerful vocals carried through in her live performance, just as they would in the her recordings. Macklemore and Skylar Grey followed up right after Gaga, who also carried out an amazing performance. Macklemore had so much energy as he continued to rap his verses while simultaneously engaging with the crowd, allowing for everyone in the audience to sing along to the chorus.

Portugal. The Man was another standout of the night with the delivery of the band’s sleeper hit, “Feel It Still.” At the beginning of the performance, there was a sign that said, “No Computer Here, Just Live Music,” highlighting the group’s musical authenticity. The performance had a nostalgic vibe to it, with visual effects that made the song feel as if it was from the 1960s. In addition to the band, there was an entire backup orchestra, which included saxophones, french horns and violins.

Another exceptional performance was the collaboration between Khalid and Imagine Dragons mashing their respective hit songs “Young, Dumb, And Broke” and “Thunder.” Both of the choruses to these songs mesh well because they both repeat the titles to these songs throughout the chorus in a catchy way. The instrumentation of “Thunder” complemented the verses to “Young, Dumb, And Broke.” Having seen Imagine Dragons live in Boston a few weeks ago, they continue to stay at the top of their game whether performing at the TD Garden or an awards show. Khalid was very comfortable on stage and performed well for it being one of his first major award show performances. Korean pop group BTS was another new group who made their major award show debut with their performance of “DNA.” Their charisma and energy excited the audience.

Two powerful female singers who have had a major influence in American music were honored for their work. Christina Aguilera paid tribute to Whitney Houston and her film “The Bodyguard.” Houston has received the most American Music Awards than any other female in history, with over 21 AMAs. Aguilera’s performance started off slow and subtle by singing “I Will Always Love You” with intense concentration. She sang “I Have Nothing,” with clips from “The Bodyguard” drifting across the screen in the background. This song, as well as “Run To You,” really brought out Aguilera’s intense vocal range and provoked a standing ovation from the audience.

The tribute concluded with “I’m Every Woman,” supported by a choir. This was by far one of the best songs in the tribute, as it brought all of the women in the audience to their feet to dance, sing along and celebrate. Starting off slow and ending in commemoration, Aguilera honored Whitney Houston’s work. Before Diana Ross received her well deserved Lifetime Achievement award, she concluded the performances of the night by singing a compilation of her iconic hit songs, including “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me Higher,” “Ease On Down The Road,” “The Best Year Of My Life” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Her phenomenal performance put a smile on everyone’s face in the audience, as everybody celebrated her achievements and the influence of her career.

Overall, this year’s AMAs established how strong and powerful people can be in music, particularly women. It was also an important way to reward the artists who made this year a pretty satisfying year in music, compared to 2016, which was a mediocre year for music. Nonetheless, the AMAs focused on music, celebrating the music of the year and female vocalists from the past.

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