This year’s version appeared decided to pack in as many of these as potential, although the listing of matters nobody melodies to the American Music Awards is a long one.
There was the goofy Seattle rapper Macklemore ranting difficult about prescription drug misuse. There was Alanis Morissette, that star of 1990s alternative pop, performing a tune older than many in the planned audience of the program. And there were Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor sharing an close onstage kiss that dared one to look away.
Ready to get noticed in an increasingly busy award show scene, the production doubled down on would be large minutes but ended up losing much of its own appeal that was breezy. (For what it is worth, the night’s big winners — including Nicki Minaj One Direction and Ariana Grande — stuck to the AMAs’ brand that was recognized. But performances, not decorations, were what mattered here.)
The show began promisingly, with Jennifer Lopez doing several bars of her tune “Waiting for Tonight,” afterward quitting the music to pronounce having a not-quite-straight face, “Tonight’s not about me.” That was the signal for a remarkable sequence in which Lopez, additionally the show’s host, went with actual fire to a few of the year’s most indelible pop hits, such as the Weeknd’s “can not Feel My Face” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling.”
The Australian group 5 Seconds of Summer was fun also, bashing through an appealingly scrappy variation of its own pop punk tune “Hey Everybody!”