Skip to main content

From left to right: Jungkook, Jin, J-Hope, RM (speaking), Suga, V, and Jimin of BTS accept the Favorite Pop Duo or Group award onstage during the 2021 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

South Korean superstars BTS were crowned artist of the year at the American Music Awards on Sunday, brushing aside challenges from Taylor Swift, Drake and The Weeknd as they took home a total of three awards and teamed up with Coldplay for a raucous “My Universe” and closed the show with “Butter.”

“Seven boys from Korea, united by love for music, met the love and support from all the armies all over the world,” said BTS’ RM after the group won their artist of the year for the first time. “This whole thing is a miracle. Seriously, we would never take this for granted.”

The band was also named favorite pop duo or group and got the favorite pop song award for “Butter.”

The show celebrated the best popular music for a second pandemic year with a mix of live and pre-taped performances. Silk Sonic’s Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak kicked off the awards on a funky, R&B and pre-taped note with their “Smokin Out the Window” and Jennifer Lopez pre-taped her “On My Way” from her upcoming romantic comedy “Marry Me.”

An earlier scheduled performance of “Butter” by BTS and Megan Thee Stallion was scrapped after the rapper cited personal reasons for dropping out Saturday. She turned out a big winner: named favourite female hip-hop artist, her “Good News” winning for favourite hip-hop album and her “Body” was crowned favourite trending song, a new award this year.

Olivia Rodrigo’s bid to turn her album “Sour” into something very sweet was facing trouble. She entered the night as the leading nominee with seven nods but late into the show only could win new artist of the year. She lost favourite pop album to Taylor Swift’s “evermore.” In a taped speech, Swift told her fans: “I’m so lucky to be in your life.”

Rodrigo performed her hit “traitor” live on a stage covered with flowers and Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean brought a little country to the stage when they sang their pre-taped duet “If I Didn’t Love You.” With a little help from Julieta Venegas and Tainy, Bad Bunny performed their hit “Lo Siento BB :/.”

Among live performances, Italian band Mneskin made their U.S. awards show debut with their viral hit “Beggin.”' Chle of Chloe x Halle floated down onto the stage to perform her hit debut single as a soloist “Have Mercy,” swinging her hair and twerking. Mickey Guyton got loud cheers while singing her patriotic song “All American” in a silvery dress, periodically screaming out “How y’all doing?”

The fan-voted awards show was airing live from Los Angeles on ABC. Nominees were based on streaming, album and digital sales, radio airplay and social activity, and reflect the time period of Sept. 25, 2020, through Sept. 23, 2021. Producers this year said they would be trying be highlighting everyone’s home town.

Becky G won for favourite female Latin artists and thanked the Latinx community. “You are not alone,” she said. “We are the American dream.”

Machine Gun Kelly grabbed the favourite rock artist award. “I want to accept this for all the aspiring musicians, the one who desires to play an instrument, wants to rap, wants to sing – not just the rock artists, but all the artists,” he said.

Olivia Rodrigo performs 'Traitor' at the American Music Awards on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

Earlier Sunday, in awards announced before the show, Swift was named favourite female pop artist, Ed Sheeran got the favourite male award and Doja Cat featuring SZA on “Kiss Me More” was named collaboration of the year. Kanye West was named favourite gospel artist.

Underwood won for favourite inspirational artist and favourite female country artist and Doja Cat also won two other awards: favourite female R&B artist and her “Planet Her” was named favourite R&B album.

Luke Bryan was named favourite country artist and Bad Bunny was the favourite male Latin artist. The Weeknd was crowned favourite male R&B artist and Drake won the favourite male hip-hop artist. Gabby Barrett took home the favourite country album for “Goldmine” and favourite country song for “The Good Ones.”

Kane Brown performed “One Mississippi” from Tennessee State University. Soulful new artist of the year nominee Giveon and relentlessly experimental rapper Tyler, the Creator also performed.

For the older viewers, New Edition and New Kids on the Block performed together. The Boston-based groups took turns with the hits, trading hits: “You Got It (The Right Stuff”), “Candy Girl,” “Step By Step,” “Mr. Telephone Man” and uniting for “Can You Stand the Rain,” “Is This the End,” “Hangin’ Tough” and “If It Isn’t Love.”

Reggaeton star Bad Bunny, R&B newcomer Giveon and Doja Cat each have five nominations each. In the new artist of the year category, Rodrigo joins Giveon, 24KGoldn, Masked Wolf and The Kid LAROI.

Swift, who currently holds the record for the most awarded artist in AMA history with 34, could further extend her streak. She is nominated for one more award – artist of the year.

The favourite Latin album went to Bad Bunny’s “El ltimo Tour Del Mundo.” Rapper Pop Smoke, who was killed in 2020, was nominated in three categories but didn’t manage to win any posthumously.

Host Cardi B, wearing a constant stream of new outfits, revved up the crowd. Later her song “Up” was named favourite hip-hop song. The Associated Press was not able to transmit images of Cardi B while she was onstage because her representatives required approval, a restriction the AP would not accept.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error