Top 10 American Music Awards Moments: Past AMAs' Video Highlights
Along with planned performances from Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, One Direction, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and many more and Rihanna set to receive the 'AMA Icon award', the 2013 American Music Awards this Sunday (Nov. 24) are shaping up be truly special. But the annual pop spectacle, now in its 41st year, has produced dozens of memorable performances over the decades, from the quiet grace of Madonna's duet with Babyface in 1995 to the controversial sexuality of Adam Lambert in 2009 to the historic collaboration of "We Are The World" in 1986.
Check out these 10 memorable moments in the award's history:
Beyonce - 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)' (2008)
Flanked by a pair of dancers just like in her "Single Ladies" music video, Beyonce shimmied and glimmered through the "Sasha Fierce" classic during the 2008 show. Moving her stunning body in a simple black-and-white outfit, Queen Bey effortlessly commanded the stage with some well-timed audience engagement and without any big-budget histrionics. Simply stated, it was a classic Beyonce performance in a long line of them, and had us pointing to our ring fingers by song's end.
Pink - "Try" (2012)
Re-creating the "Try" music video onstage was no easy task for P!nk, but she sure made it look easy. Simultaneously singing the heart-tearing single, contorting her body effortlessly alongside her male counterpart and avoiding the flames set to engulf their broken home, the pop star once again demonstrated a knack for understanding what is expected for an awards show performance, and then going five notches above that expectation.
Madonna and Babyface - 'Take a Bow' (1995)
Perched on adjacent platforms and backed by a full orchestra, Madonna and Babyface delivered their classic "Bedtime Stories" ballad with equal aplomb. Seventeen years later, the style battle is still difficult to judge -- but we'll give the slight edge to Kenneth Edmonds for rocking the no-fuss button-up. We have to give him something, since the telecast's cameraman certainly didn't give Babyface any extended airtime in this clip!
Britney Spears - 'I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman' (2002)
Remember when Britney Spears sang live? Perhaps you don't. Then let's take a YouTube-authorized time machine back one decade, to a time when Brit slayed "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" at the 2002 American Music Awards. With beau Justin Timberlake watching on and footage from "Crossroads" (!) playing behind her, Spears showcased her vocal prowess -- check out that emotional finale! -- while sporting a tasteful evening gown. Sing your heart out, Brit.
'We Are The World' (1986)
"It was a song, it was an idea, and it was a prayer that was heard around the world," Diana Ross told the audience at the 1986 AMAs of "We Are The World," the African famine relief charity single that was the result of a stunning collaborative effort between pop music's biggest stars. After honoring Harry Belafonte with a special award of appreciation, a slew of the "World" performers, including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Bruce Springsteen, came onstage for a once-in-a-lifetime performance.
Adam Lambert - 'For Your Entertainment' (2009)
The "American Idol" runner-up shocked the AMAs crowd with a racy rendition of "For Your Entertainment" in which he sang, "Can you handle what I'm about to do?" Some could not, as Lambert's performance, which included a sloppy kiss with a male guitarist and some choice S&M gear, sparked immediate controversy. The performance still stands as Lambert's most memorable awards show outing, although his career hasn't slowed down at all -- "Trespassing," his sophomore album, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in May 2012.
'N Sync - 'Bye Bye Bye' (2000)
'N Sync's album title "No Strings Attached" is a nod to the group's split from their old management, and their 2000 AMAs performance certainly played up the puppet-strings metaphor featured on the album cover. As magical gloves "direct" five aerial artists in back of them, the boy band delivered a tireless performance of "Bye Bye Bye," complete with some of the same choreography as its music video. 13 years later, we still have fond memories of Justin Timberlake's luscious blonde locks.
Lady Gaga - 'Bad Romance' (2009)
As Lady Gaga's art-pop aesthetic began to hypnotize more and more fans, the singer unveiled one of her patently bizarre award-show performances at the 2009 ceremony, when she sank her teeth into the "Fame Monster" monster hit "Bad Romance." Obscuring her face with a bony light-up mask and clawing her way in front of her dedicated troupe of dancers, Gaga sells the darkly lit performance when she crashes a mic stand through a faux glass window and hunkers down on a flaming piano. It may not have been a giant egg, but chalk this one up as one of Gaga's most innovative award sets.
LMFAO - 'Party Rock Anthem' & 'Sexy and I Know It' (2011)
Party rock was in the house the night that LMFAO closed out the 2011 AMAs with their pair of Hot 100 No. 1 hits. If turning the awards show into a rave for eight minutes was not quite enough excitement, how about Justin Bieber gracing the stage with an impromptu version of the running man? Or Redfoo deciding to wiggle it after stripping down to his skivvies? Or David Hasselhoff -- yes, the Hoff himself -- ripping off his pants in front of all of America? Thank you, LMFAO, for simply being yourselves at the 2011 AMAs.
Psy & MC Hammer - "Gangnam Style / 2 Legit 2 Quit" (2012)
The combination of the K-pop star and MC Hammer, who shimmied onstage to mash up "Gangnam Style" with his 1991 hit "2 Legit 2 Quit," was a move that very few could have seen coming -- although PSY's baggy pants might have been a sly tip-off. Furthermore, "Gangnam Style" and "2 Legit 2 Quit" sounded incredible when paired together, with PSY's international dance anthem given a stronger backbone by Hammer's throwback barks. The PSY performance was always going to be a highlight of the 2012 AMAs, but upping the ante with MC Hammer made the sort of water-cooler fodder that doesn't happen often enough.