This Sunday, the 40th American Music Awards will take place in Los Angeles. While the awards don’t have the prestige of the Grammys, they have something that the Grammys don’t: the winners are voted on by the fans. That means that One Direction will win in every category for which they are nominated. The AMAs also have another great advantage-- and this is why acts like Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Linkin Park will be performing: the show happens right before major holiday shopping begins so it’s an excellent chance for acts to get in front of their fans to remind them that their new album will make a most excellent stocking stuffer.
Below are our predictions for Sunday night. Remember, the fans pick the winners (the nominees are determined by a number of criteria, including sales and airplay), so the trophy doesn’t necessarily go to who is most deserving, it goes to who has the most ardent fan base...sort of like “Dancing With the Stars” or “American Idol.”
The American Music Awards air live from the Nokia Theater at 8 p.m. ET.
New artist of the year:
Carly Rae Jepsen
It’s a fine list and some of these artists will no doubt find their way into the Grammy best new artist category (although Cole already got nominated for that honor last year). Fun. may seem like the act with the longest career potential, but given that One Direction’s fans have already worn their fingers to the nubs voting, this one goes to 1D.
Winner: One Direction
Male artist, pop/rock:
Hmmm...not a lot of rock in this pop/rock category, is there? That’s because there are few male solo rockers making a lot of noise right now. Also, with the inclusion of Flo Rida, Pitbull and Usher, it’s clear that pop and R&B and rap all appeal to the same audience now. Justin Bieber continues to defy the odds and is showing much more staying power than the usual teen phenom.
Winner: Justin Bieber
Female artist, pop/rock:
All of these artists are very popular and all have had great years. Since she’s between album cycles, Katy Perry may be at a slight disadvantage here. Clarkson is so popular, but she probably can’t compete with the ardency of Minaj’s and Rihanna’s fans. This is a contest between Minaj’s Barbies and Rihanna’s Navy. We’re going with the military.
Band, duo or group, pop/rock:
Again, there’s a paucity of rock acts here. The Wanted had one hit. We’re not saying they are done, but they can’t compete with the likes of fun. or Maroon 5 when it comes to radio supremacy or One Direction when it comes to teen phenoms. Maroon 5 has had an incredible resurgence over the past year, but, again, their fans won’t come out in the same number as One Direction’s.
Winner: One Direction
Male artist, country:
The three hottest male solo acts will duke it out here for bragging rights...if you don't count Blake Shelton as one of the hottest male country artists right now (rolling my eyes). All three are buddies and are, in fact, racing up the country charts right now with Jason Aldean’s “The Only Way I Know,” which features Luke Bryan and Eric Church. All three have great careers going right now, but Aldean still outsells both of them both in record sales and ticket sales.
Winner: Jason Aldean
Female artist, country:
It’s nice that Taylor Swift is nominated, even though she didn’t have an album out during the eligibility period, but it also shows that she can step away and there aren’t other solo female artists to take her place. Carrie Underwood has had a great year and is coming off a No. 1 single with “Blown Away,” but Miranda Lambert is just unstoppable these days.
Winner: Miranda Lambert
Band, duo or group, country:
Zac Brown Band
What? No The Band Perry? That’s a pretty noticeable omission. Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum had fans that extend beyond country die-hards and that could help them with the voting here, but the Flattheads love their boys. All three acts have had strong years, but Lady A has the largest base.
Winner: Lady Antebellum
Know why this category isn’t split into male and female? Because there aren’t enough hit-making female rappers to fill out their own group. Maybe one day that will change and Missy Elliott is returning so Nicki Minaj will have some company. This one isn’t even a contest. It’s Minaj for the win.
Winner: Nicki Minaj
Male artist, soul/R&B:
Usher’s album was an artistic triumph, if not the commercial success of some of his past efforts, but Chris Brown, who seemed to release a new song every week, appears to have completely overcome his past troubles and his fans really stand behind him. Trey Songz rounds out the category nicely, but Brown is the winner.
Winner: Chris Brown
Female artist, soul/R&B:
Mary J. Blige
Beyoncé is a fan favorite, but, like Taylor Swift, she hasn’t been working a new album this year. Mary J. Blige is so awesome that the award should be named after her, but she has an older demo that won’t likely get out the vote for her. Rihanna, who just keeps releasing hit after hit after hit is a one-woman jukebox.
Artist, alternative rock:
The Black Keys
What a wacky grouping of artists. They couldn’t be more different. Gotye had one hit, but what a mighty hit it was. Both the Black Keys and Linkin Park put out albums that continued the trajectory they were on, but didn’t seem to take them to new heights. Still, LP’s fans are powerful
Winner: Linkin Park
Artist, adult contemporary:
Really? There’s not even a discussion to be had for this one.