The Justin Bieber show opened the 2020 American Music Awards on Sunday night.
In a big comeback year that started with his “Changes” album released in February, Biebs — making his first appearance at the AMAs since 2016 — got the prime spot to introduce the show, held at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
But in the middle of a pandemic with coronavirus cases surging — and folks who can’t see their families for Thanksgiving as a result — did we really need to hear Bieber whining about the price of young fame in “Lonely” at the beginning of the night?
And then after performing his gospel-charged single “Holy” with a troupe of mask-wearing dancers, Bieber was joined by Shawn Mendes — at 22, four years JB’s junior — for their brand-new duet “Monster.” Here, we got another song that found these privileged pop heartthrobs complaining about the weight of being “put on a pedestal” because of their success at an early age.
Can you say tone deaf?
Luckily, host Taraji P. Henson quickly erased that memory with a shimmying dance routine that started with her best Diana Ross-as-Dorothy moves to “Brand New Day” from “The Wiz.” She kept up her high-energy hoofing with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and Jay-Z’s “Dirt on Your Shoulder” before ending with a couple of 2020 bangers: Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” and her “WAP” smash with Cardi B.
Of course, one of the most-anticipated moments of the night was when Megan Thee Stallion — the hot-girl rapper of the moment — took the stage just two days after her debut album, “Good News,” finally dropped. After skipping the MTV VMAs in August, this was Megan’s first major awards-show moment since the BET Awards in June, and she delivered a bootylicious performance of her new self-love single “Body.”
While she appeared to be lip-syncing for much of it — as is fairly common at the AMAs — she owned the stage with body-positive panache.
With decidedly more clothes on, Billie Eilish — another hot female artist who passed on the VMAs — turned up to give a cred boost to the AMAs with the first TV performance of her new single “Therefore I Am.”
Although 33 years older than Eilish, another fierce female — Jennifer Lopez — continued her 2020 roll after her Super Bowl halftime show that started the year. J.Lo teamed up with Maluma — her costar in the upcoming romantic comedy “Marry Me” — for a performance of their new singles “Pa Ti” and “Lonely.”
The songs themselves may be pretty tepid, but the heat generated by Lopez — rocking a black body suit as she continues to defy Father Time at 51 — and the Colombian reggaeton star was enough to make Alex Rodriguez muy jealous. Let’s just say there was negative social distancing happening at one point.
Other performers at the awards included the Weeknd, Katy Perry, Dua Lipa, BTS, Machine Gun Kelly and Mendes (again), who got to have the solo spotlight with his single “Wonder” from his upcoming album of the same name, due Dec. 4.
Oh, and yeah, there were awards handed out too. The AMAs have never really about who actually won. But just for the record, the wealth was split between Bieber, the Weeknd, Dan + Shay and Artist of the Year winner Taylor Swift, who each picked up three trophies apiece.
Now let’s get ready for some awards that really matter when the Grammy nominations are announced on Tuesday.
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