It’s almost time for the bonanza of Best Of 2013 lists, and that means pop’s biggest stars have one last major platform to help them make their mark on the Year In Music narrative, via the American Music Awards. This year’s show, taking place November 24 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, boasts an impressive, if fairly homogeneous, roster of performers. Come to think of it, the lineup looks an awful lot like the one for this year’s MTV Video Music Awards — so maybe the monoculture is alive and well after all.
As is always the case with the AMAs, the hardware plays second fiddle to the performances, but one award in particular is worth paying attention to this time: Rihanna will be honored with the first-ever AMA Icon Award. Our guess is that it’s like Justin Timberlake getting the video vanguard award at the VMAs — sort of a worthy recipient, but also probably the result of an agreement to secure a performance from the star.
That’s just the tip of the hulking popberg that is the AMAs, though. On Sunday night, you’ll be inundated with blown-out setpieces, wild choreography, a smattering of lip-syncing and an endless stream of live tweets (speaking of, be sure to follow @idolator!), so you best be mentally prepared. That’s where our Viewer’s Guide comes in. Head below for a complete breakdown of what we can expect at the 2013 American Music Awards.
YOUR HOST FOR THE EVENING:
Pitbull (*crickets*). Oh who cares, you’ll be subjected to his Bud Light ads during the commercial breaks anyway, so what’s a few more minutes of the dale dope? Get over it, the host is basically invisible for this anyway.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis scored the most nominations with six, including Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Favorite Rap Album. Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake both earned five nods, followed by RiRi, Robin Thicke and Florida Georgia Line with four nominations apiece. See the full list of nominees here.
*Lady Gaga & R. Kelly
*Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
*Christina Aguilera & A Great Big World
*Jennifer Lopez (performing a tribute to Cuban salsa legend Celia Cruz)
*Pitbull & Ke$ha
*Florida Georgia Line
*TLC & surprise guest
Just about every diva who matters right now is performing this year. Not only do we have a rematch of the VMAs’ Perry vs. Gaga vs. Miley matchup, we also have RiRi, K$, Xtina and JLo thrown into the mix, as well as ’90s royalty T-Boz and Chilli. Diva-in-training Ariana Grande will perform as well, though it would’ve been nice to see even more gals from the new school given the platform, like Charli XCX or HAIM.
Despite the bevy of female stars performing, and their overall domination of the pop narrative this year, the night’s biggest awards are dominated by the dudes. No females are represented in the Single Of The Year field. The Artist Of The Year, New Artist Of The Year, Pop/Rock Album and Soul/R&B Album categories also tilt in favor of the guys.
And one more thing about the ladies… this is network television and not MTV, so we can expect to see a lot less skin. But we’re guessing that would’ve been the case anyway, as everyone’s got twerk/thinkpiece fatigue, and these performers probably know it (you may have noticed that Miley and Gaga were both covered up for their most recent television appearances).
You’ll also want to keep an eye on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Sunday night. In terms of media presence, the duo has managed to outlast the other acts behind this year’s surprising smash hits (Daft Punk, Robin Thicke), and as a result they have a chance to do the rare Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year double dip. It’s unlikely, though: in the latter category, they’re going against behemoths Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Justin Timberlake. But if any year will produce an underdog coup like that, it’s 2013, the year that music streaming changed the chart game and one of the biggest rap hits of the year was a gay marriage anthem.
Speaking of rap, how the hell did Kendrick Lamar sneak his way into this lineup? Don’t get us wrong, it’s great! Even though he’s becoming an increasingly visible force in hip-hop, he just seems so out of place amongst pop’s glitterati. And the AMAs aren’t exactly on-point when it comes to showcasing credible rap. We’ll see if K-Dot can use the exposure to deliver on those king claims.
*Does Rihanna deserve the inaugural AMA Icon Award?
*How is Eminem not performing this year?
*Who is TLC‘s “surprise” guest?
*Speaking of TLC, has their comeback been kind of, well, underwhelming? And could this performance revive it?
*How many times will Pitbull say “dale”?
*Will Pitbull’s shiny suits cause a distracting lens flare?
*Did you ever think we’d still be talking about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis a year later?
*Whose performance will we be talking about the next day?
*What is a Luke Bryan?
Finally, to help us celebrate the 2013 AMAs, we’ve put together a playlist featuring all of the performers of the evening. Listen below!
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