Will Smith, Garth Brooks Score Big at Predictable AMAs - Rolling Stone
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Will Smith, Garth Brooks Score Big at Predictable AMAs

Americans love their pop and R&B Big Willie Style, their
country Garth-gantuan and their schmaltz sung by
French-Canadian Celine Dion. Aerosmith rocks the
hardest and ‘N Sync are the brightest new hope on
the pop horizon. And for those occasions when Americans want to
dance on the edge of the brave new world of “alternative” music,
they do it to Pearl Jam. All this we know because
the American Music Awards tell us so.

Held last night (Jan. 11) in Los Angeles and broadcast on ABC, the
26th Annual American Music Awards celebrated the platinum
achievements and mass popularity of the most successful artists of
the year. According to the AMA site on www.abc.com, the list of
nominees is compiled “from data supplied by the music industry
trade publication Radio & Records and the SoundScan,
Inc., management information system.”

So when the National Family Opinion, Inc., firm conducts its poll
of 20,000 Americans, the lucky voters get to pick their favorite
pop/rock album of the year from a list comprised of Will
‘s Big Willie Style, Dion’s Let’s Talk
About Love
and Shania Twain‘s Come on
. In other words, it’s all about sales receipts and simple
democracy, with no half-hearted pretensions of hipness or
pseudo-critical judgement like, say, the Grammys.

Smith took the honors for pop/rock album, as well as for Favorite
Soul/R&B Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Artist. Brooks tailed
him with two awards (Favorite Male Country Artist and Favorite
Country Album, for Sevens). Tied with Brooks was Dion, who
snagged Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist and Favorite Adult
Contemporary Artist (genres, schmoneras). Dion was on hand to help
accept the award for Favorite Soundtrack, which went to

Eric Clapton won for Favorite Male Pop/Rock
Artist, Janet Jackson for Favorite Female
Soul/R&B Artist, Aerosmith for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Group/Duo
and Pearl Jam for Favorite Alternative Artist (beating out fellow
mavericks Third Eye Blind and Green
). Master P, snubbed by the Grammy
nominating committee, took the honors for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop
Artist. Lauryn Hill, on the other hand, who leads
this year’s Grammy nominations with ten nods, received only one
AMA, for Favorite New Soul/R&B Artist. Piano man Billy
was the 1999 Merit Award winner.

Other winners were ‘N Sync for Favorite New Pop/Rock Artist,
K-Ci & Jo Jo for Favorite Soul/R&B Band,
Duo or Group, Twain for Favorite Female Country Artist,
Dixie Chicks for Favorite New Country Artist,
Alabama for Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group
and Enrique Iglesias for Favorite Latin Music

If the pool of winners was a bit predictable, the show’s organizers
did take a credible stab at an interesting talent lineup. The rule
of thumb seemed to be, why have one superstar act performing on
stage when you can have two or more at the same time? Thus,
Wyclef Jean and Babyface
accompanied Whitney Houston, K-Ci & Jo Jo sang
next to Next, Brooks made room for Trisha
, and Master P had half his No Limit crew to back
him up.

But the performance of the evening, the hype of the early music
year, was the reunited Blondie performing not just
with Coolio, but with various Wu
and Mobb Deep members
(U-God, Inspektah Deck, Havoc and
Prodigy). Unfortunately, the Blondie performance
was a case of too many cooks in the kitchen; the title track from
the their forthcoming No Exit consisted of a lengthy,
fierce exchange of rhymes from the guests bookended by
“Rapture”-style intro and exit raps by Debbie
(sporting a gouged-eye makeup job that would give
Marilyn Manson shivers). Back in the day, the
slogan was “Blondie is a group.” At the AMAs, however, they were
merely a backing band — Harry included.


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