Because nothing makes popular music more fun than typing alongside friends, it’s time to do that “liveblogging” thing in honor of the 2010 American Music Awards, which celebrate the most popular of the most popular music that this country has to offer, complete with the sort of pomp that only the most craven enterprises can possess. Join me after the jump for the Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Katy (sigh) Perry, the results of allowing 13-year-olds to vote (online) (for their favorite male pop stars), and OMG NEW KIDS AND BACKSTREET BOYS TOGETHER!!
7:56 p.m. Man, the ball shots on America’s Funniest Home Videos just don’t have the same wacky appeal that they did during the pre-YouTube era, do they? Also a video of a naked child wandering around a hallway just “won” the week. America!
7:58 p.m. And the drooling child’s name is, seriously, Bristol. Surely this is some sort of intra-ABC shout-out to Dancing With the Stars‘ ballot-stuffing?
8:00 p.m. It’s here! And here’s Rihanna!
8:01 p.m. Rihanna is sitting in a “tree” and singing her sequel to “Love The Way You Lie.” And she is, uh, definitely doing it live.
8:02 p.m. Now, Rihanna is traveling through a kudzu field of glowsticks while wearing a bikini top that looks like it was crafted from dip-dyed dish towels while performing her version of Beyoncé’s interpretation of Axl Rose’s snake dance. And she is also still singing for real, which is an interesting choice given that on every single song she’s put out this year she’s sounded like a different vocalist.
8:04 p.m. And now she is trying to sing the very vocally bendy “Only Girl In the World,” which is a pretty difficult song to sing standing up straight, let alone while dancing. Very curious about the artistic decisions here. Is it an effort to prove herself as Better Than Beyoncé? Also, I can’t help but wonder if Loud is going to be like Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream (not to mention Rihanna’s own Good Girl Gone Bad) in terms of being massive on the singles side, but not on the album side.
8:07 p.m. The Only Girl In The World is running out of oxygen, everybody!
8:09 p.m. Heidi Klum is talking about the awards being voted on by the public, and how that is awesome. Subtext: “AT LEAST NINA GARCIA AND MICHAEL KORS CAN’T RUIN THIS.”
8:10 p.m. Usher’s Raymond Vs. Raymond wins the first award of the night, Best Soul Album. I was pulling for Sade, really.
8:12 p.m. The Thanksgiving-themed song in this Old Navy ad is actually a Ke$ha B-side.
8:14 p.m. If you had told me 21 years ago when I was going to my first concert that the lead singer of the headlining band would be ice-skating on TV someday I would have laughed at you. And yet.
8:15 p.m. Nice to see that the AMAs’ producers hired the people who wrote the NewsRadio theme to perform the night’s interstitial music!
8:15 p.m. Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group (don’t get too specific there, guys) goes to the Black Eyed Peas. will.i.am’s Lego hat: The best aesthetic decision he’s made in seven years.
8:17 p.m. “Thank you to everybody on the Internet!” You’re welcome! No, really, you’re welcome.
8:18 p.m. Spanish is funny!
8:19 p.m. Now, these are some sweetened-up vocals. Thanks, Enrique, for showing us how a pop music awards show should do things. Also, this uptempo club banger with the light show is making me miss the straightforwardness of “Hero.”
8:20 p.m. Stomp meets Jersey Shore meets my living room being about 95% brighter than it was before this performance started.
8:21 p.m. Pitbull: No vocal assistance. Keeping track of this is going to be fun!
8:22 p.m. We can also track the number of callbacks to old pop songs, if you’re looking for another parlor game to play. “All Night Long” is No. 1, and I guess the Dirty Dancing song will be next?
8:23 p.m. Oh, no, my bad, next up is Miley Cyrus’ homage to Alanis Morrissette Unplugged.
8:24 p.m. Miley live > Taylor live. Suspect Stevie would agree.
8:25 p.m. Or maybe not.
8:26 p.m. The look Miley gave her band after playing was perfectly blank. The definition of the term “pretty vacant.”
8:28 p.m. I would like to be paid a lot of money to make decisions like: “Yes, a young girl who looks like half of the evil-twin duo from The Shining is a perfect pitchwoman for macaroni and cheese!” Could you imagine what that life would be like?
8:30 p.m. Diddy Dirty Wow.
8:31 p.m. Um, wait, isn’t it too soon for someone to be remaking Kanye’s “Good Life”?
8:33 p.m. There is also the matter of the callback to Bobby Brown’s outfit from the “My Prerogative” video.
8:33 p.m. This song is going to be gigantic, I think. It’s got that triumphant stomp and the sheer will of Diddy’s ego behind it.
8:35 p.m. Oh great, everybody get excited for Taylor Swift to pull her “omg I’m really popular I can’t believe it” act out for the 23,405th time.
8:36 p.m. Not feeling the straightened hair. Or the “nobody understands me but you guys” routine.
8:37 p.m. Men: What’s the deal with the tucked-in pants? Is the afterparty equestrian-themed?
8:39 p.m. And now here’s Kid Rock remaking Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown.” I am starting to think that I need to zap my musical RAM in order to not hear other songs (and see other artists) in everything on this stage. But it’s not just me, right? Right?
8:43 p.m. I will say this for this show: It’s jam-packed. Five performances in the first 40 minutes? Pretty sure the VMAs were not as stuffed. (And of course this show’s lack of Chelsea Handler gives it an automatic competitive advantage.)
8:47 p.m. Johnny Weir’s hair is the highest of the night, I think?
8:47 p.m. Favorite Latin Music Award artist is… Shakira! Who, alas, is not in the house.
8:48 p.m. You know who else isn’t around? Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Which means that we’re going to have to hear will.i.am and Fergie sing their bits.
8:49 p.m. I like how Fergie is embracing the Peas’ “cover every demographic base” aesthetic with an outfit that incorporates Gaga’s cage, Katy’s cleavage, and Ke$ha’s muddy glitter.
8:50 p.m. Meanwhile, her band is being danced around by people whose aesthetic recalls “Mummenschanz-gone-Nintendo.”
8:52 p.m. The second disturbing musical revelation I’ve had today (the first was liking a song on the radio by, I swear, OneFreakin’Republic): I think I would actually tolerate “The Time (Dirty Bit)” if it didn’t have the Dirty Dancing callback? Also, how hard do you think ABC lobbied to incorporate Jennifer “Probably Going To Lose Dancing With The Stars To The Worst PTA Mom Ever’s Daughter” Grey into the performance?
8:55 p.m. The ever-increasing Real Talk Quotient of toilet-paper ads is going to reach a pretty unpleasant tipping point pretty soon.
8:57 p.m. Katy Perry. Here we go.
8:58 p.m. A children’s choir. Oh boy. And Katy … descending from the heavens in something … that is pretty much designed to resemble … a saint’s shrine.
8:58 p.m. She is also ill-advisedly singing live. (Did her hair and makeup people just forget to show up?)
9:00 p.m. Nice of her to save the cleavage-reveal until after the kids left the stage.
9:01 p.m. Katy Perry In Pyrobics: The new workout that you can perform while wearing stirrup pants and trying to hit all the high notes!
9:02 p.m. Nicki Minaj’s 10-word speech went through about three of her accents. Impressive that she did that while wearing an exoskeleton made of zippers!
9:03 p.m. No but really, how many pounds is Nicki Minaj’s outfit? She looks like she has to be wheeled around a la Bernie.
9:05 p.m. Justin Bieber’s socially conscious song: So serious, his hair isn’t feathered! Someone get the siren dot jpeg out!
9:06 p.m. Uh oh… here comes the gospel choir…
9:07 p.m. There is definitely a weird “Things are kinda crappy out there, sorry” vibe emanating from a lot of the songs being performed tonight. Hope this means Taylor Swift’s going to pull out her song about mean old writers!
9:08 p.m. I wish Ne-Yo was performing and not just in Project Runway-style car commercials :(
9:13 p.m. Mandy Moore: The superior recording artist in this particular presenter diptych. (Seriously, have you heard Sheryl Crow’s cover of “I Want You Back”?)
9:14 p.m. My viewing companion notes that the quality of video in this particular package was barely above YouTube-level.
9:15 p.m. Favorite Country Male Artist: Brad Paisley. Still a terrible graphic designer, though.
9:17 p.m. And the second Bruce Springsteen homage of the night comes to you from Bon Jovi. Wait, and now there’s a callback to Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home”! What is happening on my television right now? Is it 1990 and you all forgot to tell me?
9:18 p.m. Richie Sambora sure looked bored to be playing that LIGHTNING-EMITTING GUITAR! Just because it’s not Katy Perry’s boobs, Richie, don’t be so bummed out!
9:20 p.m. Jon Bon Jovi is so much more excited to be playing “It’s My Life” than “You Give Love A Bad Name.” Probably because it’s only 10 years old instead of 23? “YGLABN” would have been a great opportunity for one of those dumb YouTube karaoke contests to have their end point.
9:22 p.m. “Quick! Cut to another person smugly nodding!”
9:23 p.m. Seriously, this Old Navy song is going to the Thanksgiving No. 1 that America needs to pull itself out of its slump.
9:24 p.m. Crazy Frog got a movie deal, you guys! There’s hope for all of us!
9:29 p.m. I have such a thing for Mike Posner. He’s a silky-voiced dude who’s kind of a schmoe when it comes to dealing with women? THAT’S SO MY TYPE.
9:30 p.m. Justin Bieber wins the Breakthrough Artist award and thanks God first. Also his mom, his fans. And reveals his lack of geography knowledge by saying that the “smallest town in the world” is 30,000 people strong? Hmm.
9:31 p.m. Is that American Idol also-ran Casey James playing guitar for Pink? Probably not, but it could be.
9:32 p.m. Also how awesome would it be if Pink broke into “Buffalo Stance” right now? She’s dressed for the occasion.
9:33 p.m. REMEMBER THE ’90S?????????
9:34 p.m. Oh boy that last note, oh dear. Still one of the better vocal performances of the night.
9:35 p.m. I just threw up my hands and screamed “Yay!!!” when Ne-Yo was announced.
9:35 p.m. Will this montage feature Slash and Duff’s “fuckin’ …. oops” speech from 20 years ago? Ah, the memories.
9:39 p.m. I wonder if this Michael Jackson video game will allow people to unlock “Moonwalker mode.” Surely there’s enough room on the disc, right?
9:41 p.m. Ne-Yoooooooo (but what’s up with the facial hair)
9:42 p.m. Oh my God I am so ridiculously excited for this album. There are two comic-book-like concept albums coming out tomorrow! We really need to have an MCR/Ne-Yo CONCEPT-OFF.
9:44 p.m. I am not really able to form words right here. Oh my.
9:45 p.m. Whoa he’s dripping with sweat. Whoa.
9:46 p.m. And now here’s Taylor Swift to be the buzzkill. And continue with the “people descending from the sky” motif.
9:47 p.m. At least Taylor’s set is inspired by the cover of Fall Out Boy’s Inifnity On High.
9:49 p.m. OH MISS SWIFT GETTING SERIOUS WITH THE ONEREPUBLIC COVER (nb she still can’t hit the notes).
9:50 p.m. Was expecting the unexpected run-in to come from Taylor Lautner, really. “Yes, this song is about me! I know!”
9:51 p.m. Important question: What is love?
9:52 p.m. Justin Bieber thanks Michael Jackson: “Without Michael Jackson, none of us would be here.” OK, so his geography misstep is a bit understandable, but come on.
9:58 p.m. That was a curious undermining-the-point-of-the-choreography directorial decision there at the beginning of Christina Aguilera’s “Burlesque” performance.
9:59 p.m. I do like how this song is sort of a mash-up of her “Dirrty” persona and her “Ain’t No Other Man” sound. But things are coming off as a bit…. inert? Although the piano skirt worn by one of her backup dancers is nice.
10:01 p.m. My viewing companion notes that this is also a big callback to the “Lady Marmalade” remake, from the innocent days of 2001. Well, not “innocent,” but you know what I mean.
10:04 p.m. “Hot country”: For when you don’t want to call a band’s chosen genre of music “Old Bread.”
10:06 p.m. I don’t think you all understand how sad I am that Dean Winters was driving around the parking lot of the mall near my parents’ house… and I wasn’t there.
10:09 p.m. “We forgot to design Usher’s set!” “Just turn on the iTunes Visualizer. Fuck it.”
10:10 p.m. “And get Ne-Yo’s dancers to act like they’re remaking the ‘Cold Hearted’ video. We have all these extra neon wristbands from a T-Mobile promo that didn’t work out, they can wear those.”
10:12 p.m. “And then just add Katy’s leftover pyro. Turn it up to seizure-inducing so no one will notice that we just threw this shit together.”
10:13 p.m. Avril Lavigne is presenting the Alternative Music award… and using the worst coinage of the past year, which I cannot even bring myself to type out. So, everything’s status quo then.
10:15 p.m. Oooh, thanking Charles Darwin! You get political, Muse guy.
10:16 p.m. I have to hand it to Train, who in the past year have somehow put out only songs that are tailor-made to be omnipresent. That “Marry Me” song? It’s going to be played at even more weddings than “The Time (Dirty Bit).”
10:17 p.m. (PS Nice pants.)
10:17 p.m. Oh man, a Dove ad just broke out on stage!
10:19 p.m. Readers, if you want to be shocked and horrified sometime before the end of the hour, don’t Google the “rock classic” taken on by Santana and Gavin “Not Just Gwen’s Husband Once Again” Rossdale.
10:22 p.m. Pretty sure I just saw Danny Gokey flash across my TV screen. Poor Lee DeWyze.
10:24 p.m. “Inheriting a cross-pollinated love of country and rock & roll from their parents, The Band Perry – siblings Kimberly, Reid, and Neil Perry – say that they bleed the bright red blood of American music.” Ah, so that’s why the dudes look like they took a wrong turn at Kings of Leon Way. More important, though: Who’s their manager?
10:25 p.m. “God … I love winning things!” Michael Bublé, winner.
10:26 p.m. What does the word “history” mean to you?
10:26 p.m. What does the career of Daft Punk mean to Ke$ha? Alternate question: What does Prince’s “Batdance” video mean to Ke$ha?
10:28 p.m. You know, say what you will about Ke$ha, but at least her singing voice sounds pretty similar to the way it sounds on record.
10:28 p.m. No comment on her backup dancers’ wigs, though.
10:30 p.m. Or her decision to not bust out a guitar solo with that particular axe.
10:30 p.m. Or her leap onto the “It Gets Better” bandwagon, which, sigh.
10:34 p.m. The first time I heard the Vampire Weekend song in this Tommy Hilfiger ad I thought it was by Neon Trees. 2010!
10:36 p.m. Santana. Rossdale. AMERICA PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN.
10:37 p.m. There are so many questions about this performance. Why is the band so big? Why is the cowbell so overmiced? What pedals is Carlos Santana using? Did no one think to give Gavin Rossdale’s hairdo a makeover? How quickly is Marc Bolan spinning in his grave?
10:39 p.m. And same question, but: ROBERT PALMER?? Oh, Robert Palmer. The world misses you so badly right now.
10:39 p.m. I mean. I just.
10:40 p.m. “It’s over!”
10:40 p.m. The crowd reaction shots on this have been pretty priceless. Lots of “uh, well…” looks.
10:42 p.m. There are still awards being given out, just in case you were wondering. Usher will now have six of the little glass pyramids on his shelf!
10:45 p.m. I should probably use this commercial break to note that “Bang A Gong” will probably not be the worst song on Carlos Santana’s forthcoming covers record. Other contenders:
• “Riders On The Storm,” Santana Featuring Chester Bennington & Ray Manzarek
• “Dance The Night Away,” Santana Featuring Pat Monahan (aka the Train guy)
• “Sunshine Of Your Love,” Santana featuring Rob Thomas
It would appear that the duet with Scott Stapp got cut from the album last-minute?
10:49 p.m. Ryan Seacrest is turning the Favorite Artist award into an American Idol results show! Please don’t let that mean that we have a drawn-out hour of this coming.
10:50 p.m. Justin Bieber, once again proving that giving 13-year-olds the vote produces results.
10:51 p.m. Welp, Justin Bieber’s acceptance speech just provided the night’s “passing the torch” narrative. That’s what you get when you hire a swagger coach!
10:52 p.m. “[Usher is] my best friend and my big brother.” “Justin Bieber just solved race.”
10:53 p.m. OMG BACKSTREET BOYS NEW KIDS MASHUP!!
10:53 p.m. Probably worth noting the fact that the final two musical performances in an awards show in 2010 were a cover of a song from the ’70s by a guitarist from that era and a faded frontman from the ’90s and a medley of hits by boy bands minted in the ’80s and ’90s. And that all the ads encouraging people to buy music were for the Beatles.
10:54 p.m. But … “I Want It That Way”!!!
10:56 p.m. I didn’t even like the New Kids when they were a “thing” but that synchronized crotch-grab? Ticket, purchased.
10:57 p.m. Michael C from Project Runway is having the best time right now. Somewhere, Ivy is off being a jerk with an atrocious aesthetic.
10:58 p.m. And … well, that was abrupt.
10:59 p.m. My friend showed up at 9, so I am explaining the scenes being shown in the closing-credit montage. “That was Bobby Brown … I mean that was Diddy.” I really said that.
11:07 p.m. Here is your full list of winners, not that they are consequential to anyone except the people who will have to add time to their dusting routine:
Favorite Soundtrack Album: Glee: The Music, Volume 3
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist: MercyMe
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Aritst: Eminem
Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Eminem, Recovery
Favorite Latin Music Artist: Shakira
Favorite Country Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite Country Male Artist: Brad Paisley
Favorite Country Band/Duo/Group: Lady Antebellum
Favorite Country Album: Carrie Underwood, Play On
Favorite Alternative Rock Music Artist: Muse
Favorite Adult Contemporary Music Artist: Michael Bublé
Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist: Rihanna
Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist: Usher
Favorite Soul/R&B Album: Usher, Raymond v. Raymond
Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist: Lady Gaga
Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist: Justin Bieber
Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group: Black Eyed Peas
Favorite Pop/Rock Album: Justin Bieber, My World 2.0
Favorite Breakthrough Artist: Justin Bieber
Favorite Artist of the Year: Justin Bieber
I’d also argue anyone who had the channel on anything else during that Santana/Rossdale atrocity was the true victor for the evening.