Diana Ross, Pink and Kelly Clarkson Performances Highlight 2017 American Music Awards

Music fans made their voices heard as part of the 45th annual American Music Awards, television’s largest fan-voted trophy show, which took place Sunday night at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The star-studded event saw a slew of artists receive honors along with performances from Pink, Christina Aguilera in tribute to Whitney Houston’s onscreen smash “The Bodyguard,” Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and so many more of music’s hottest stars and most fiery up-and-comers.

As far as awards go, it’s no surprise that the “24K Magic” maestro Bruno Mars made out with the biggest loot, netting seven awards including the sought-after Artist of The Year trophy. Country mega-star Keith Urban wasn’t far behind, snagging a trio of trophies including Favorite Male Artist – Country. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber were also handsomely rewarded for their sensational ear-worm of a Latin crossover with Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito.”

Pink and Kelly Clarkson kicked the night off with a powerful duet rendition of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” Introduced by Jamie Foxx, the performance honored American first-responders, recognizing and introducing many of them before bringing out the two vocal dynamos. In recent months Pink made mention of wanting to perform with Clarkson but fearing the former “American Idol” winner would outdo her vocally. It turns out the “Beautiful Trauma” songstress had nothing to worry about, perfectly meeting Clarkson’s finesse at every turn. The opening immediately made an impression and signaled that this show comes with a message of encouragement and positivity. And, of course, with “Idol” starting up next year on ABC. Having Clarkson feature front-and-center is no accident.

Pink’s night was far from over, with the daring diva scaling the side of a building during a performance of her latest album’s title track, “Beautiful Trauma.” It was a stunt that will surely find its way onto everyone’s timeline before the night winds down. But perhaps Pink’s most memorable moment from the Sunday night mega-event came as she took in the show instead of performing in it. During Christina Aguilera’s stirring tribute to Whitney Houston and the 25th anniversary of her flick “The Bodyguard,” Pink was visibly unimpressed by Aguilera’s inability to properly hit those ever-tricky high notes on “I Will Always Love You.” Most assuredly, the memes are on their way, if they’re not clogging up the internet already.

Gomez also made her presence felt at the 45th annual fan-voted spectacular, returning after laying low for some time due to receiving a kidney transplant. With the hard part of her battle with lupus seemingly behind her, Gomez set her sights on unveiling her newest single, “Wolves,” live and in color, or was it? The performance went over well enough on television, with the set taking on a very dark, gothic atmosphere complete with ominous dancers and fake blood, but as is usually the case, leave it to the internet to pick it apart, with many accusing the singer of lip-syncing. Lip-synced or not, Gomez delivered a performance destined to go viral.

But it was the show’s family-studded finale that truly helped the American Music Awards live up to its 45-year legacy. The event turned out to be a family affair, with “Blackish” star Tracee Ellis Ross on hosting duties and her mother, Motown legend Diana Ross, receiving the coveted American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement. As a host, Tracee Elliss felt quite out of place here, a point she herself brought up in her opening monologue. “I don’t even have beef with anyone,” she joked to laughter that was polite at best. But it became clear that Tracee was really in attendance for something much more important. On top of having her legacy honored, Diana Ross performed a medley of all her greatest hits over the decades — “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me Higher,” “Ease on Down the Road,” “Best Years of My Life” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” — concluding the iconic set by bringing her entire family on-stage before wishing pleasantries to us, her global family. In a time of such conflict, watching a family get its time in the spotlight felt more empowering than ever. It was a final visual that, like the opening with Pink and Clarkson, sent fans watching at home an upbeat message of support and unity. It’s always great to go out on a high note, and this year’s AMA’s finale was just the high note fans needed.

The American Music Awards took place at the Microsoft Theatre on Nov. 19 in Los Angeles and aired at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.