Justin Bieber, Sparkling Performances Dominate the American Music Awards

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The 2010 American Music Awards were dominated by new artists cementing their rising star status and a slew of exciting performances from current stars and icons of yesterday.

    Moppish-haired Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was the night's big winner. The 16-year-old won four trophies, including the coveted Artist of the Year, beating out Eminem, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry all while becoming the youngest artist to ever capture that award.

    "I'm from the smallest town in the world of, like, 30,000 people," he said while accepting the award for Breakthrough Artist. "I never thought this was possible."

    The "Baby" singer paid respect to his musical heroes over the course of the show, displaying humility on a night where his star shined the brightest. He thanked Michael Jackson, saying that, "Without Michael Jackson, none of us would be here."

    He also specifically mentioned Slim Shady and Usher as major influences after beating them both for Favorite Male Artist.

    "I can't stop smiling; this is amazing. Truly I don't know how this is possible because I've been singing Eminem since I was three and Usher is my mentor," he said. "So this is big."

    But neither the rapper or R & B star left empty handed: Eminem -  took home the Favortite Male Artist award and album in the rap/hip hop category and Usher scored the Favorite Soul/R & B Album and Favorite Soul/R & B Male Artist awards.

    There were noteworthy performances throughout the show, but the 80s/90s combo of the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys - performing under the name NKOTBSB - nearly stole the thunder from Biebs. Performing a mashed up medley of their massive hits: "Everybody (Backstreet's Back), "I Want It That Way," and "Larger Than Life" from BSB and "Step By Step" and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" from the New Kids, the bands showed that they could still please a crowd with slick dance moves and boyish charm.

    But the night wasn't just about the boys. Rihanna, with her hair dyed a ruby red, gave the show a colorful and sexy start, performing a medley of songs from her just released album "Loud," including the No. 1 hit "What's My Name," wearing a bustier and what seemed like a scarf wrapped around her backside.

    "This is amazing!" said an exuberant Rihanna, who danced onstage later to receive her award — favorite soul/R&B female. She ended her speech by yelling, "Wassup! Thank you!"

    Friend and fellow pop princess Katy Perry followed later in the show with an explosive performance of her new single, "Firework." Decked out in a red sequined dress and accompanined by a children's choir, Perry first appeaed in a hanging snowflake above the stage. As she belted out the tune, dancers ripped the dress off to reveal a body-hugging red jumpsuit and fireworks shot into the air to punctuate the number.

    The Black Eyed Peas, winners for favorite pop/rock band, gave a levitating performance, singing from boxes atop the stage during part of their performance of their new single, "The Time."

    But some of the prime-time performances were given to acts who weren't nominated, but had albums to promote. Diddy's latest incarnation with the group Diddy-Dirty Money sang material from their upcoming album, while Kid Rock gave a stirring, acoustic performance of "Times Like These," his song lifting up his hometown of Detroit during its recent economic struggles, from his new CD, "Born Free."

    A pregnant Pink was among the evening's performance highlights. Unlike recent performances marked by a high-wire act, she stayed close to the ground to perform her latest song, "Raise Your Glass," but thrilled nonetheless with a tightly choreographed, high-energy dance number.

    Swift, last year's artist of the year, took home favorite country female. Sporting sleek blonde hair instead of her usual cascading curls, Swift said simply: "I just want to thank the fans."

    Swift later performed her new single "Back to December," a song she also performed on the CMA Awards earlier in the month, but mixed things up by incorporating some of OneRepublic's "Too Late To Apologize."