7 things you missed at the American Music Awards

And that's a wrap for music's most ho-hum awards show.

The American Music Awards were low on excitement but heavy on Donald Trump jokes at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater Sunday night. While artists including Sting and Green Day were not shy about their disapproval for the president-elect (the latter chanting "No Trump / No KKK" during their performance of Bang Bang), most acts played it safe with their limited stage time. Ariana Grande walked away with the night's biggest honor, artist of the year, while Drake and Twenty One Pilots also took home multiple awards.

Among the highlights:

LOW: The hosts. Separately, we love Gigi Hadid and Jay Pharaoh. But the model and Saturday Night Live comedian had zero chemistry as co-hosts and their forced jokes about president-elect Donald Trump, repeated references to the U Name It meme and attempt at the Mannequin Challenge were painful to watch. And don't even get us started on Hadid's cringe-worthy Melania Trump impression.

EVEN: Zayn Malik wins best new artist. Competing against Alessia Cara, The Chainsmokers, DNCE and Shawn Mendes, the former One Directioner took home the fan-voted award for "best new artist." Taking the stage to accept the trophy, the pop/R&B singer quipped, "This one just has my name on it, right?" He proceeded to thank his family, friends and family, before giving a smooch to his on-and-off girlfriend, Hadid, when he exited the stage.

HIGH: The Weeknd. With high-profile nominees Beyoncé, Adele and Rihanna not in attendance, viewers had to settle with listless performances from Bruno Mars, The Chainsmokers, Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes in the first half of the show. But The Weeknd woke up the uneventful proceedings with his kaleidoscopic performance of Daft Punk-featuring hit single Starboy, which he swaggered through inside an icy lair with a rare smile on his face.

LOW: Drake's Apple Music commercial. Unlike most big-name artists, Drake graciously showed up to accept his two awards for best rap/hip-hop artist and album (Views). But we almost wish he would've stayed home so we could've skipped his totally awkward Apple Music commercial, in which he worked out to Taylor Swift's Bad Blood. As you probably remember, his rumored ladylove / potential collaborator filmed her own clumsy Apple Music ad using Drake and Future's Jumpman, although to much more charming effect.

HIGH: Lady Gaga. After a night of mostly lackluster performances, the newly countrified pop star was a breath of fresh air with her awe-inspiring performance of latest single Million Reasons, off No. 1 album Joanne. Set against a starry blue sky, and sitting on a wooden stool among a faux field of tall grass, Gaga deservedly earned a standing ovation for her powerhouse-belting and dexterous guitar skills.

EVEN: Prince tribute. We don't know exactly why 1984's Purple Rain was nominated for top soundtrack alongside new films Suicide Squad and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But the tribute from his sister, Tyka Nelson, was genuinely touching, as she praised her late brother for defying odds as "a black teen from Minneapolis with a goal to electrify the world." Fighting back tears, Nelson concluded, "We'll keep this for you at Paisley Park until we see you again. This is for you."

HIGH: Selena Gomez's speech. The artist-of-the-year winner closed out the night with a tearful speech, thanking her fans and referencing her recent stint in rehab, which resulted in the cancellation of multiple tour dates as she focused "on her mental health." "I had to stop because I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside," Gomez said. "I kept it too much together because I let myself down." But "I'm not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore," she added, telling fans that "if you are broken, you do not have to stay broken."

USA TODAY


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