2019 American Music Awards: Statements with a Dose of Nostalgia

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"Less is more" was the takeaway of the 2019 American Music Awards.

The night celebrated the year's most popular songs and artists, but it was the oldies that made the show resonate with audiences both inside the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles and watching worldwide. 

Artist of the Decade

There was plenty of nostalgia going around starting with Kesha's first performance in 6 years that included her latest single "Raising Hell" in addition to her 2011 hit "Tik Tok."

She was finally granted permission to sing her old songs following a public battle with Sony and producer Dr. Luke. 

90s oldies but goodies like "Green Day's 1994 "Basket Case," Toni Braxton's 1996 "Unbreak My Heart," and Shania Twain's 1997 classic "I Feel Like a Woman," were also crowd pleasers. 

Plenty of statements were also made at the AMAs as artists proved that they were no longer afraid to stand up to the status quo.

The biggest statements of the night came from the three pop powerhouses: Taylor Swift, Halsey, and Kesha.

All three ladies aimed their jabs at the music industry.

Tik Tok - AMAs

Halsey's powerful speech shaded the GRAMMY Awards following her absence from the nominees that were announced early last week. 

"I am so thankful to the AMA's because they are the world's largest fan-voted awards show," she said emphasizing the fan aspect.

"I'm thankful to the fans because they're the people who really give a shit about the music and I'm thankful for the AMAs for giving them a voice."

Taylor, meanwhile, made it a point to thank the people who have helped advance her career including her new label, Republic Records.

Her acceptance speech comes on the heels of a very public feud with her former label, Big Machine, and music mogul, Scooter Braun, over the rights to perform her songs. 

Public Feud - AMA

The feud didn't completely outshine Taylor's medley performance -- she eventually got permission to perform her old songs after making matters public -- but her medley did fall slightly short. 

Her "Artist of the Decade" performance had the usual Taylor flair and sparkle, but it lacked plenty of hits that earned her the title in the first place.

Taylor's medley kicked off with "The Man," a not-so-subtle dig at the men attempting to control her life, and continued with "Love Story," "I Knew You Were Trouble," and "Blank Space."

Halsey - AMAs

She also brought out Halsey and Camila Cabello for "Shake it Off," before capping it all off with her single, "Lover."

But fans couldn't help but point out that she glossed over her "Reputation" repertoire entirely and plenty of other singles that earned her accolades.

After getting the rights to perform her songs, and for such a momentous moment, you would have expected Taylor to bring out all the stops. 

However, she did manage to break a record previously held by Michael Jackson after winning a total of 29 AMAs throughout her career! 

The show also found its strength in the effortless moments where artists felt truly themselves.

Thomas Rhett - AMAs

For a show where everyone was trying their best to one-up each other, Thomas Rhett’s simplicity was a welcome change of pace.

He brought good vibes, a wholesome performance, and effortless vocals, proving that this is what country music is all about.

Post Malone stole the show with his incredible performance of "Circles" and the subsequent "Take What You Want," a fiery performance accompanied by the legendary Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott.

But his whole vibe at the show was a "mood."

The fan-favorite was having a blast kicking back, drinking from his solo cup, and cheering on performers.

I Like Grapes

And during his acceptance speech, he offered up this gem of a line: "I love grapes."

Don't ever change, Posty.

Halsey got creative with a paint-smeared and manic performance of "Graveyard," which was unique and thought-provoking.

The stripped-down and colorful performance worked in her favor allowing her vocals to shine.  

There was nothing overly terrible about the show, though many moments fell flat and would go down as unmemorable when compared to previous years. 

It pains me to place Selena Gomez into the "less impressive" category, but the singer wasn't having a good night.

Touted as her return to the AMAs stage after 2 years, she performed "Lose You to Love Me" and "Look at Her Now," two songs written following her breakup from Justin Bieber.

A Comeback

However, Selena's nerves got the best of her as she "sang off-key in her chorus."

Fans cheered her on, as did her fellow artists including bestie Taylor Swift, but Selena never fully recovered from the shaky vocals. The performance failed to rise to the triumphant return it was meant to be. 

Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes also ended up disappointing, but this verdict had nothing to do with their performance.

It wasn't a bad performance, not at all. On the contrary, it was a great performance.

But it was the same one we saw at the 2019 VMAs on August 30, 2019, camera angles and all. 

"Señorita" is such a massive hit and their chemistry is palpable, so there's no reason why we should have seen a repeat of the same performance. 

Señorita - AMAs

Camila redeemed herself when she hit the stage again for "Living Proof," which found her dancing in a cube surrounded by angel aesthetics and singing those "hallelujahs" before pulling her into a fiery inferno where one of the dancers may have been Taylor Swift herself.

The verdict is still out on that one. 

Other notable performances included Dua Lipa's jazzy performance of "Don't Start Now," Lizzo's performance of "Jerome," which showed off her vocal range, and Billie Eilish's laid-back take on "All the Good Girls Go to Hell."

Billie Eilish also took home her first AMA for "Alternative Rock Artist" and then scored the award for "New Artist of the Year"

What did you think of the show?

Which performances were your favorite?

Lizzy Buczak was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in June 2021..

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