"Rolling in the Deep" was by far the most inescapable song of 2011, but is Adele even eligible for American Music Award nominations? Don't U.K. artists have their own music awards, like the Mercury Prize and the Brit Awards? Despite a name that sounds like it only rewards U.S. musicians, the AMAs are a global affair that honors the acts that had the biggest impact in America, regardless of where they're from. The AMAs are essentially like the Grammys, but with two major differences. First, music buyers and public opinion play a greater role in the voting process (as opposed to the Grammy Awards' stodgy National Academy of Recording Arts). Second, each AMA category celebrates America's "Favorite," whereas the Grammys call their winners the "Best."
At the 2010 AMAs, Justin Bieber (a Canadian) won four awards, including the ceremony's biggest honor, Artist of the Year. At this year's Grammys, Bieber lost the Best New Artist trophy to Esperanza Spalding. An American Music Award might not come with the same prestige as winning a Grammy or even an MTV Moonman, but the AMAs are more attuned with the tastes of pop music-loving Americans. But most importantly, the November 20th AMAs provide artists releasing albums in the vicinity of Black Friday (the nation's post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday) with one last chance to promote their new discs in front of millions of people watching on TV.
Other AMA categories to keep an eye on: The Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album award, which finds Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne facing off against Weezy's Tha Carter IV and Nicki Minaj's Black Friday. In years past, this award usually sets the tone for what the Grammys do in their rap categories (Eminem's Recovery won both the AMA and Grammy), but Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy -- which wasn't even nominated for an AMA -- is all but guaranteed to win the Grammy next year. Another interesting race finds Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons, and the Black Keys -- three very different types of rocker -- battling it out for Favorite Alternative Rock Artist.
The night's most intriguing category: Rihanna's Loud and Chris Brown's F.A.M.E. competing against each other for Favorite Soul/R&B Album. Is this finally the award show where both artists are in the audience at the same time? We'll find out November 20th. As for the coveted Artist of the Year, it'll be Adele versus Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift.
[Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images]
- Katy Perry
- Taylor Swift
- American Music Awards
- Lady Gaga