Sunday night’s (November 21) American Music Awards show was a study in contrasts. Rihanna’s show-opening performance combined one of the most fun songs on her new album Loud (“What’s My Name?”) with one of the heaviest (“Love the Way You Lie (Part II)”). The technology-heavy appearance by the Black Eyed Peas was only a few segments away from Miley Cyrus’ relatively subdued run through “Forgiveness and Love” (which saw the teen star dressed in a dramatic black gown). Kid Rock stripped everything down for the quiet, simple “Times Like These,” while Justin Bieber (who won a total of four awards last night) cranked everything to 11 for an epic rendition of his new single “Pray.” But the evening’s best showing came from 10 individuals from all across the stylistic map: Taylor Swift and the combined powers of the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block.
Dressed dramatically and wearing her hair straight (she actually looked a bit like Kristen Bell), Swift sat down at the piano for a passionate push through “Back to December,” one of the best ballads on her new album Speak Now and also one of its stickier melodies. Swift lent the song a heft that is typically missing from awards show performances (and that is often lacking in her songs), and her voice sounded the best it has ever been. Combined with her performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards (where she powered through the epic track “Innocent”), Swift’s performance of “Back to December” may make her the music-on-TV MVP for the year.
The show-closing performance from the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys (who will be touring together as NKOTBSB next spring) was the exact opposite of Swift’s “Back to December.” Rather than create drama, the nine boy band veterans combined for an incredibly fun, thrilling run through a mash-up of some of their best tunes. They’ve all still got great voices, but more importantly, they all still know how to work a crowd.
What was your favorite performance from the 2010 American Music Awards? Let us know in the comments!