American Music Awards 2014's 20 Best and Worst Moments

The verdict on Taylor Swift, One Direction, 5SOS and everything from Pitbull's "Fireball" to Waka Flocka Flame

Best of the Night: Lorde Thinks Inside the Box
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Best of the Night: Lorde Thinks Inside the Box

As soon as the camera cut from the large glowing cube in the middle of the stage to a head-on close-up of Lorde's face bathed in blue light inside, it was clear that the pop-goth elf princess' performance of her Hunger Games hit "Yellow Flicker Beat" was going to be something special — even for her. The walls around her morphed from blue to orange to red as the song kicked into its main surging pulse and serpentine melody, and with the camera swirling around her, Lorde cast off her wizened hunch for a display of thrashing and headbanging worthy of Nine Inch Nails in their similarly claustrophobic "March of the Pigs" video. The action was so exquisitely intimate and intense, it was actually a bummer when the box lifted away right before the two-minute mark, letting Lorde loose upon the full stage and cutting short the most outré moment of an otherwise by-the-numbers night.