2013 American Music Awards: Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake win big; Rihanna receives AMA ICON Award

LOS ANGELES - Let's talk the 2013 American Music Awards.

Highlights:

- Taylor Swift & Justin Timberlake win big during AMAs
- Ariana Grande belts and wins New Artist of the Year
- Miley Cyrus sings "Wrecking Ball" with lip-syncing kitten
- R Kelly becomes president & Lady Gaga is a secretary
- Rihanna receives first AMA ICON Award

Multi-genre stars Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake were the big winners at the 2013 American Music Awards, which were held Sunday night at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

Swift won the night's biggest award receiving the trophy for Artist of the Year. She also won awards for favorite country album, country and pop/rock artist.

Timberlake won favorite male pop/rock artist, favorite soul/R&B artist, and favorite soul/R&B album.

Who won? View winners of 2013 American Music Awards on ABC15.com.

Rihanna was awarded the AMA's first ever ICON Award. In a touching moment, Rihanna's mother came on stage and offered a genuine speech praising her daughter on her career, her dedication to her fans and her courage to overcome obstacles. She didn't specifically mention the incident with Chris Brown, but one can read between the lines.

Let's get back to the music. The AMAs, which aired live on ABC Sunday night, and were hosted by Pitbull, featured several performances from many artists across a variety of genres, including Katy Perry, One Direction, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez and Luke Bryan.

Perry kicked off the night in a traditional Japanese outfit performing "Unconditional." The set, dancers and visual effects were elaborate, entertaining and overall provided a nice opening performance to get the audience excited for the show.

Speaking of Perry, she invited Megan Squire, a high schooler cheerleader from Buckeye, Ariz., to the awards show, after she was featured in a Verrado High School video submission for a contest in partnership with Good Morning America.

Read more about Squire's adventure on the red carpet and her meet-and-greet with the pop star on abc15.com.

Ariana Grande belted out a beautiful rendition of "Tattooed Heart," with made clear why she was chosen as New Artist of the Year.

Miley Cyrus didn't twerk, but she performed "Wrecking Ball" with a giant kitten who would lip-sync with her in the background. The vocals were fine, but I couldn't concentrate on anything else besides the kitten. Was it cute or creepy? And why was it in the performance in the first place? I still don't have an answer.

Ben Haggerty, the rapper known as Macklemore, accepted the award for favorite rap/hip-hop album, then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in a live satellite feed from the rap group's latest tour stop, reports the Associated Press.

"Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it," he said.

Florida became a focal point after Martin's killer was freed under the state's stand your ground law. It was the first win of the night for Macklemore and Lewis, whose album "The Heist" has been an unexpected hit and made them the AMA's top nominees with six, reports the Associated Press.

Lady Gaga performed a theatrical rendition of "Do What You Want" with "President" R. Kelly in the oval office.

Jennifer Lopez donned three outfits during an energized, upbeat and spectacular tribute to Celia Cruz.

And One Direction, winners of favorite pop/rock album and group, performed "Story of My Life" to the over-the-top screams of overzealous pre-teen fans.

Overall, this year's American Music Awards show should have been entertaining to all music fans. It featured nearly 15 musical performances, including a surprise performance by TLC, and was able to deliver awards, and get through winner's speeches, quickly without causing the audience at home to get bored.

Pitbull did his job as host helping to introduce and close the show, however, didn't do much else to illuminate that "wow" factor. He did perform with Ke$ha during the show.

What did you think of the 2013 AMAs? Let us know in the comments below.

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