The biggest, strangest and most controversial moments from this year’s poptastic, politically charged AMAs

This a party political broadcast from The American Music Awards

Politics, yeah? Last night, the great and good of the pop world took to the Microsoft Arena in Los Angeles to celebrate, erm, themselves at a glittering awards ceremony that’s bound to make you say, “Oh, that happened. Huh.”

Yes, it was the AMAs, with attendees and performers including Taylor Swift, Cardi B, Migos and many more. It’s the American mid-term elections in November and, since Donald Trump is a certified Bad Bastard with a penchant for elevating fellow Bad Bastards to positions of power to which their suitability is not immediately obvious (slow clap for you, Brett Kavanaugh, hands where we can see ’em), there was a distinct air of political dissent to the proceedings.

If the thought of political advice from loud celebrities with a skewed knowledge-to-enthusiasm ratio makes you want to cringe your heart out, look away now. Or, at least, steel yourself for a moment until we move onto the non-political advice from last night’s entertaining fripperies. Onwards!



Taylor Swift, a woman once noted for her silence on political matters, leading those who spent too much time on Twitter to speculate that she might be a Republican, recently came out to back the Democrats. Scoff all you want, but apparently voter registration spiked after the megastar implored her fans to get involved, so never discount the political clout of a woman who writes really, really great pop songs. And her rally continued at the AMAs. Collecting one of her awards, Taylor noted that, “This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people. And you know what else is voted on by the people? It is the midterm elections on November 6. Get out and vote. I love you guys.”

Stirring stuff. In addition to this, two actors I’ve never heard of, Tracee Ellis Rose and Billy Eichner, were similarly impassioned. Rose wore a T-shirt that read “I am a voter” and asked the audience, “Are you”? For his part, Eichner bawled, “DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU YOU’RE VOTE WON’T COUNT. It DOES!!!!” Sure thing, Billy, whoever you are.

Read more: Pop Is Not A Dirty Word: Taylor Swift finally got political. What took her so long?

Taylor Swift broke a record

And not that shit ‘1989’ covers album Ryan Adams did. At this point in collective political history, Taylor Swift holds 23 American Music Awards, becoming the most decorated female artist in the ceremony’s 45-year history. Last night, she took home Artist of the Year, Tour of the Year, Favourite Female Artist, and Favourite Pop/Rock album for ‘Reputation’. 23 awards! The President’s a bellend, Taylor, but your trophy cabinet looks good.

The ceremony praised Aretha Franklin like they should

The Video Music Awards’ tribute to the late soul singer was something of a damp squib (okay, we get it, Madonna, you’ve had a successful career) but the AMAs went all out on the tribute front. Gladys bloody Knight sang ‘Amazing Grace’, which swelled to an enormous gospel rendition with a whole host of talented singers such as Ledisi, Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans, Erica Atkins Campbell and  Tina Atkins Campbell. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.


Rap trio Migos won best a best Pop/Rock award, for some reason

The dudes that rap about stir-fries. Favourite Duo/Group. In the Pop/Rock Category. Oh, that happened. Huh.

Halsey tweeted in the middle of her performance

I mean, I can barely watch a film without checking social media every three seconds, so no judgement here. The recent NME Big Read star performed ‘Eastside’ with Benny Blanco, taking a little time out to pen a missive to her 10 million (ish) followers, documenting, in no uncertain terms, which trainers she was wearing. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley feared that technological advances would cause us to concentrate on the wrong things, allowing the figures in the highest pillars of society to get away with their rampant abuse of power, to which I say: Shhhhhh, I’m reading about Halsey’s favourite trainers.

Read more: Halsey’s NME Big Read

Cardi B was just so, unbelievably fucking great

Is there a more likeable pop star around than Cardi B right now? Show me. Show me them. They don’t exist. She posts Instagram snaps of herself in daft furry spectacles, somehow makes Liam Payne seem interesting simply by sitting next to him at a fashion show and is truly killing it in the charts. Last night, she delivered a dazzling, colourful, joyous rendition of Latin-themed banger ‘I Like It’. If you didn’t like it you’re a Donald Trump supporter.