AMAs have had some real doozies over the years. Donny & Marie Osmond once won for Favorite Country Duo/Group (well, Marie is "a little bit country" after all!). P!nk was nominated for Favorite New Artist in Soul/R&B (everybody likes P!nk, but that's a stretch). Alternative rock titans Pearl Jam and Nirvana both won for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. The pop creation Milli Vanilli won for Favorite New Artist in Soul/R&B.
Let's try to unravel these perplexing outcomes, and then look at how the AMAs has evolved over the years. This year's show airs Nov. 24 on ABC.
P!nk's 2000 hit "There You Go," with Kandi on a backing vocal, was a top 15 R&B hit. Her follow-up, "Most Girls," also made the R&B chart. Still, P!nk has always been primarily a pop star. (Oddly, she wasn't nominated for Favorite New Artist in Pop/Rock in 2001.)
Alternative rock titans Nirvana and Pearl Jam took the award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist in 1995 and 1996, respectively—even though the show had an Alternative category by that point. Oddly, Nirvana wasn't even nominated for Favorite Alternative Artist in 1995. (Pearl Jam doubled up and also took the award for Favorite Alternative Artist in 1996.)
While there have been a few perplexing categorizations and/or outcomes, that's to be expected in a show that has distributed between 15 and 30 awards for the past 40 years.
Alas (or happily) music isn't that simple. It's constantly changing. And the AMAs have added and dropped categories over the years in an attempt to keep up with those changes. The way they've done that says a lot about the currents that have swept through popular music over the past 40 years.
Of course, the overhyped "death of disco" didn't mean the end of dance music. The AMAs have brought dance back into their menu of categories twice. From 1990 through 1992, there were three "Dance" categories. Last year and again this year, there has been an "EDM" (Electronic Dance Music) category.
Rap/Hip-Hop has been part of the AMAs ever since, except for a brief experiment in 1993 when Hip-Hop was combined with Soul/R&B.
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock had one or more categories for nine straight years, but was quietly dropped before the 1998 show. It's probably too narrow a niche of for a show that aims for the broadest possible audience.
Favorite Alternative Artist was added in 1995. Counting Crows were the first winners. Their album August And Everything After was among the top-sellers of 1994.
A soundtrack category was added in 1996. The Lion King was the first winner. This category has been dropped twice (after 2003 and again after 2010), but was re-added this year.
Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist was added in 2002 and has been given out ever since. Yolanda Adams was the first winner. (The music is usually called Contemporary Christian in the music industry.)
The total number of awards reached a bloated 30 in 1992. That year, there were six awards each in Pop/Rock, Soul/R&B and Country and three each in Rap/Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock, Dance and AC. Clark, who had a penchant for brisk efficiency, trimmed it to a more manageable 24 categories the following year.
Fourteen of the 15 initial awards will be given out on this year's show, at least in some form. The AMAs dispensed with separate awards for Favorite Single in the three major fields after 1995. This year, it is combining them into one category, Favorite Single. The show dropped the award for Favorite Band/Duo/Group in Soul/R&B after 2003, because of a dearth of R&B groups.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Marie Osmond
- Pearl Jam
- Milli Vanilli