Last night's American Music Awards featured a few new things. Aside from divas trying out new genres, the awards, telecast from Los Angeles' new Nokia theater, determined winners based on online votes from fans.
Senegalese singer Akon was one of the night's early winners - picking up the award for Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist. He brought T-Pain, who is signed to his Konvict Music label, onstage with him and said he deserved the award for all his hard work. T-Pain said he'd let Akon walk offstage with it, but would be happy to take it home. Rihanna won Best Female Soul R&B Artist, saying she was surprised both to be nominated and to win in that category.
Singer Justin Timberlake won two awards - Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Soul/Rhythm and Blues Album for his double platinum collaboration with Timbaland, FutureSex/LoveSounds. He accepted his award via satellite from Australia. T.I. was the big hip-hop winner for his album, T.I. vs. T.I.P, which won Best Hip-Hop Album, and as Favorite Male Hip-Hop Artist. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were a surprise winner as Favorite Band, Duo or Group.
American Idols Daughtry and Carrie Underwood and Fergie were the night's big winners in other categories. Beyonce recieved the International Artist Award, something only 5 artists in the AMA's 35-year-history, including Michael Jackson, have been honored with. Usher, presented her with the award, taking time out to acknowledge the death of Kanye West's mother.
"I'm so blessed to wake up every morning and do what I love. I don't take it for granted," Beyonce, whose date was father Matthew, said. "I'm so grateful, so honored and so humbled by this award."
The night's performances showed new sides to several female artists. Though the official remix of Alicia Keys' hit record "No One" is with Damian Marley, Keys did a full reggae set with Junior Reid, Chaka Demus and Pliers and Beenie Man. Rihanna shouted her out during her acceptance speech saying "Hey, Alicia Keys, that performance, I can appreciate that!" Queen Latifah sang a jazz classic from her album "Trav'lin' Light." But the real surprise was one, that there's a country remake of Beyonce's monster hit "Irreplacable" by the group Sugarland, and two, that Beyonce would come out and sing it with them, which she did.
Chris Brown danced upside down in glow-in-the-dark outfits for "Kiss Kiss," but was eclipsed by T-Pain's star turn on his part of the song, and Rihanna and Ne-Yo did their hit duet, "Hate That I Love You" with a full orchestra. Mary J. Blige performed "Just Fine" off her upcoming CD, Growing Pains. Fergie and will.i.am opened the show with a triple performance of Fergie's hits.
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