Leave it to Britney Spears who, with no particular project or album to speak of in 2006, manages to continually steal the spotlight everywhere she goes, whether it be the local Starbucks or the American Music Awards. And so it was at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium last night that Brit decided to pop by for a quick curtsy, knocking Carmen Elektra and Chris Brown out of the R&B presenting spot while reaffirming her place — and those legs — in the world of entertainment. Still, not even Brit's newly svelte figure could distract audience members from the evening's main attraction: Um, music?
In less than three hours, the AMAs managed to jam in performances by heavy hitters in every genre. Beyoncé opened the show with "Irreplaceable," leading the R&B pack (which included Mary J. Blige, Jamie Foxx and Lionel Richie). On the pop front, Gwen Stefani, who premiered her new single, "Wind it Up," Nelly Furtado and Pussycat Dolls brought the sexy back, while rockers Fall Out Boy and Snow Patrol turned up the guitars. Rappers Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg showcased new tracks while Barry Manilow reworked some old ones. There was a little something for everybody.
The big winners, however, were not in attendance. Red Hot Chili Peppers, who won for favorite alternative artist and favorite pop/rock band, accepted their awards via satellite from London, with Flea beat-boxing over Anthony Kiedis' thank you speech. Kelly Clarkson, who won for pop/rock female and adult contemporary artist and Black Eyed Peas, who nabbed favorite rap/hip hop group, soul/rhythm & blues group as well as favorite rap/hip-hop album, did not make the broadcast at all.
Still, those who were there — Carrie Underwood, who won for Breakthrough Artist, Foxx, who was named favorite male soul/rhythm & blues artist, Blige (Favorite R&B/Soul album), Rascal Flats (Favorite Country Artist), Sean Paul (Reggae Album) and Nickelback (Pop/Rock Album) — seemed to revel in each other's company. Said Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, "I got to meet Lionel Richie! I was hanging out and shooting the shit with him, which was so cool!" And when it comes to the music? "In one night, you get a lot of performances from people you wouldn't normally get to see and you have great fuckin seats!"
There was more to talk about than tunes backstage. For Foxx, the question of the day concerned actor Michael Richards' recent Laugh Factory rant. "I've made comments like 'I would have whooped him on sight,' " said Foxx. "But at the same time, it is sad to see a person build a career like that and have it torn down because of things he was going through. It's tough to see him come out so ugly." And for Underwood, it was Faith Hill's look of shock over the American Idol winner's Country Music Awards Female Vocalist win earlier this month. "I actually spoke to Faith immediately after the show was over," Underwood explained. "She assured me she was just kidding and wanted to say she was sorry for anything that may have seemed inappropriate when it was just a joke gone bad." As for performer John Mayer, his mind was still on the election. "I think everybody is excited to know it's not locked in any one direction and that there's nothing conspiratorial taking it to a certain side," he said. "It's nice to know it's not rigged."
We could say the same for the AMAs.