The “Back to December” singer, who also won Favorite Female Country Artist and Favorite Country Album, thanked her family, friends and fans…and Selena Gomez, who she called, “my little sister I never had!”
“This is so crazy!” the country superstar said after beat such contenders as Adele, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to capture all three awards that she was nominated for at Sunday’s ceremony, including artist of the year, the show’s highest accolade that she previously claimed in 2009.
“I ended up writing the record by myself, so the fact that you would honor it this way, you have no idea what this means to me,” said Swift after winning the trophy for favorite country album for “Speak Now.” She was also awarded the prize for favorite country female artist.
Nicki Minaj took home her first award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist. She was the only girl up against Yeezy and Weezy. “I didn’t think I was going to win it,” she told the room.
“I have to thank God … and Taylor Swift, wherever you are. I want to thank my Barbz. There’s power in your peace. Hold your peace,” she said.
Adele had been the night’s leading nominee with four nods, but didn’t have much of a presence at the show: She was absent from the ceremony because she is recovering from recent throat surgery. Adele tied Swift with three awards: favorite pop/rock female artist, adult contemporary artist and pop/rock album for “21.”
Maroon 5 were the first big winners, taking home Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group. “This is our first one. This is crazy. I think in order to get one of these, you have to have loyal fans,” lead singer Adam Levine said.
Other winners included Blake Shelton as favorite country male artist, Lady Antebellum as favorite country band/duo/group, Beyonce as favorite soul/R&B female artist, Rihanna for favorite soul/R&B album for “Loud” and Hot Chelle Rae as new artist of the year.
Katy Perry received an achievement award for being the first female artist to have five No. 1 singles from a single album (Teenage Dream). The singer, who rocked pink hair, performed her new hit single, “The One That Got Away.”
“Can I just say, thank you so much for letting me be a chameleon this year. I love you so much, and I also love my fans. I want to thank my band and all of the people who came out to see me,” she said.
Justin Bieber got in the holiday spirit among a forest of neon lights with “Under the Mistletoe,” and Kelly Clarkson, wearing a glittery red gown with her hair swept to the side, delivered a swinging rendition of her hit “Mr. Know It All” as back-up dancers dressed as 1930s-era photographers snapped the first-ever “American Idol” champion.
“It’s been up and down and just exciting and overwhelming and so many things,” said Jennifer Lopez—who performed twice during the show—after winning the award for favorite Latin Music Artist.
Several artists delivered stripped-down performances: The Band Perry crooned an emotional “If I Die Young,” a pink-haired Perry accompanied herself on guitar for “The One That Got Away” and a platinum-blonde Chris Brown simply sang “All Back” before being joined by a troop of helmet-clad back-up dancers for a flashy interpretation of “Say It With Me.”
The Favorite Soul R&B Female Artist went to Beyoncé, who accepted the trophy from NYC. “AMAs thank you very, very much. I’m so excited about this award because it was voted by all of my fans, and I have the best fans in the world. Actually, you’re the only people I want to thank.”
Bruno Mars won for Favroite Pop/Rock Male Artist. “I want to thank the fans,” he said. “You all mean everything to me. I want to say hi to my family at home in Hawaii.”
There were collaborations, too. Lopez joined a glowing-in-the-dark will.i.am for his new single “Hard.” Christina Aguilera dueted with Maroon 5 on their “Moves Like Jagger,” and then Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine teamed with Gym Class Heroes for their hit “Stereo Hearts.” Bieber joined LMFAO in animal-print pants for the show’s finale, which ended with everyone on stage – including David Hasselhoff – stripping down to smiley-face underwear. [via Huff Post, E! Online and MTV]