The 2018 American Music Awards are in the books. Taylor Swift won big, the were a handful of remarkable performances, numerous stars rallied voters for the 2018 midterm elections, and many other far sillier (yet notable) things happened.
Here are the nine highlights from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Taylor Swift Opens the Show
Once you reach ultamegasuperstardom, award show performances get a little less frequent, so Taylor Swift’s show-starting “I Did Something Bad” performance was must-see television for pop fans. Fresh off a long string of Reputation Tour dates, Swift was sharp and on-point, delivering the track’s venomous lines and moving, shaking, and slithering amongst her team of backing dancers, and a giant cobra.
But this was far from the last we heard from her this evening…
“I Like It” Roars To Life
After taking home the award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, Cardi B led one of the evening’s most electric, unforgettable performances. We might be in the second week of October, but Cardi, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin brought jubilant block party vibes to the AMAs stage with their rendition of their summer smash “I Like It.” Horns blared, percussion clanged, guitars strummed, and the trio delivered their vocal parts with attitude, all decked out in absurdly fun looks. It’s rare to get three stars this big in the same room to perform a hit like this, even rarer for it to be pulled off so well. Salute.
The Performance Was So Amazing…
It managed to make Taran Killam somehow the night’s biggest gif.
— GIPHY (@GIPHY) October 10, 2018
Twenty One Pilots Rock Hard
Twenty One Pilots meant business. After releasing their much-hyped album Trench last week, they’ve made no secret how badly they want to finish atop the Billboard 200 this weekend. Thoughts on A Trench Is Born notwithstanding, this raucous performance did nothing but help their cause. Recent single “Jumpsuit” is a heavy, cathartic song to begin with, and Twenty One Pilots emphasized all its best points with a pummeling, pyro-filled spectacle.
Halsey, Sitting On a Couch, Literally Tweeting During Her “Eastside” Performance
She sounded pretty good too!
On stage right now at the AMAs. Wearing my favorite Jordans lol. Tweeting during my performance. #priorities ??
— h (@halsey) October 10, 2018
Stars Rock the Vote
Ahead of handing out the award for Adult Contemporary Artist, actress Kathryn Hahn and actor/comedian Billy Eichner rallied young voters to get registered and vote in the soon-to-come 2018 elections:
“Young people of America, the biggest election of our lifetime is happening. That’s right. Tonight is the final night to register in 20 states in this country… Please grab your friends. Tell them to vote. If you believe in equality for women, for people of color, for the LGBTQ community. If you believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it, don’t let anyone tell you your vote won’t count.”
Same for Taylor Swift, who urged viewers to vote in the midterm elections at the very end of her Artist of the Year acceptance speech:
— American Music Awards (@AMAs) October 10, 2018
And sometimes it’s the little things that really matter. In accepting his award for Favorite Male Artist, Khalid, a Texas native, added a little “Shout out Beto,” nodding to Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger for Ted Cruz’s Texas Senate seat.
Taylor Swift Takes Home the Hardware
Capping off a night that was nothing but a big “W” for Swift, she captured four awards — Artist of the Year, Tour of the Year, Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock, and Favorite Album – Pop/Rock — giving her more all-time wins than any female artist in AMAs history.
But She Wasn’t the Only Reputation Tour Artist to Win Four Trophies…
— Katie Atkinson (@ktatkinson) October 10, 2018
And It All Ended With…
A rousing tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin featuring Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans and Mary Mary. The whole production focused on Franklin’s gospel roots, featuring songs like “Amazing Grace,” “Climb Higher Mountains,” and “Mary Don’t You Weep,” all time-tested standards she’d breathed life into over the course of her incredible career. Respect.