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Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj win big at AMA show

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 6:10 AM EST, Mon November 21, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Swift wins 3 AMA honors, bringing her total to 10
  • Minaj opens AMA show and carries home two trophies
  • Adele, Beyonce, Rihanna win, but miss the show
  • Jennifer Lopez performs with Pitbull, will.i.am, and wins top Latin honor

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Taylor Swift won three trophies at the 39th annual American Music Awards Sunday night, but the singer's ability to act surprised and excited may be worthy of an Emmy.

"This is like one of the craziest things that has ever happened to me," Swift said as she accepted for artist of the year. It was her second time winning the biggest honor.

Swift also won favorite country female artist for a fourth straight year and favorite country album, bringing to 10 the number of AMA trophies on her shelf in her young career.

The Country Music Association gave Swift its entertainer of the year award earlier this month.

Fashion, music on the AMA red carpet
Taylor Swift: AMA success 'just crazy'

"I can't tell you how much I'm really loving this fall season so far," Swift said backstage after the show.

Rapper Nicki Minaj also had a big night, opening the show with a collaborative performance with David Guetta and winning her first two AMA honors.

Minaj included a thanks to Swift when she accepted for favorite rap/hip hop artist. And she bowed to Swift as she was handed the favorite hip hop album trophy.

This year's show lacked the controversy that often creates a lasting media buzz -- such as Adam Lambert's man-on-man kiss in 2009.

David Hasselhoff's appearance in the finale may have been an attempt at it. The actor-singer ripped his pants off, revealing a big smiley face on his boxers at the end of the closing performance by LMFAO of their party rock anthem.

The absence of several major stars who won took away some of the glitz.

Adele's recent vocal cord surgery kept her from personally picking up the favorite pop/rock album award. The British singer also won for favorite pop/rock female artist.

When Beyonce won the favorite soul/R&B female artist award, producers played a videotape of her explaining she wasn't at the Los Angeles show because was in New York to promoted a new DVD.

Rihanna, who beat Chris Brown and Beyonce to win the favorite R&B/soul album award, also accepted with a videotaped speech thanking her fans. She explained she was on tour in Europe.

Chris Brown, whose career suffered a major setback when he physically assaulted Rihanna on the eve of the 2009 Grammys, walked away empty handed. Brown did get to perform his songs "I Want It All Back" and "Say It With Me" for the AMA audience.

The career revival of Jennifer Lopez got a boost with the AMA trophy for favorite Latin music artist, an honor she also won eight years ago. But the award seemed incidental to her performances.

Lopez wore a flesh-colored, skin-tight, sequined body suit for a big dance performance of her song "Papi." Latin rapper Pitbull then joined her for their "On the Floor" collaboration. She later joined will.i.am onstage for another song.

Pitbull also performed with Lopez's estranged husband, Marc Anthony, and rapper Lil Jon.

Maroon 5 won the favorite pop/rock band/duo/group category, their first AMA trophy.

"We want to win a Grammy, an Academy Award, the Super Bowl and an Emmy," frontman Adam Levine said backstage.

Levine got plenty of stage time Sunday night when Maroon 5 collaborated with Christina Aguilera and as he was joined by Gym Class Heroes.

Lady Antebellum won the AMA for favorite country band/duo/group, the second consecutive year the Georgia trio has taken that trophy home.

Tennessee-based pop rock group Hot Chelle Rae was chosen new artist of the year.

"We're not really accustomed to this feeling, but we feel like we're on cloud nine," lead singer Ryan Follese said backstage.

Bruno Mars, who won two Grammys earlier this year, picked up his first AMA honor, winning for favorite pop/rock male artist.

"We just want to do what we love," Mars said in his acceptance.

Katy Perry received "a special award of achievement" for being the first woman in the history of pop music to have five no. 1 singles from the same album. Michael Jackson was the first artist to get such an AMA honor.

Christmas started early at the AMA's as Justin Bieber, wearing a white and red leather outfit Elvis would envy, performed a holiday tune titled "Under the Mistletoe." It's from a Christmas album just released by the teen pop idol.

Other winners included:

Favorite country male artist -- Blake Shelton

Favorite soul/R&B male artist -- Usher

Favorite contemporary inspirational artist -- Casting Crowns

Favorite alternative rock artist -- Foo Fighters

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