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Top 10 Best American Music Awards Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Ezuma

These performers gave it their all and left everything on the stage. For this list, we’re looking at the most memorable performances that appeared during the AMAs. Our list includes Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 American Music Awards Performances

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20American%20Music%20Awards%20Performances Special thanks to our users AmyCatz & Dhan Jazareno for suggesting this idea!


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Script written by Tiffany Ezuma

Top 10 American Music Awards Performances

These performers gave it their all and left everything on the stage. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 American Music Awards Performances.

For this list, we’re looking at the most memorable performances that appeared during the AMAs.

#10: Selena Gomez

“42nd Annual American Music Awards” (2014)

Sometimes a performance is more than a performance and instead serves as an emotional catharsis for the artist. That was the case with Selena Gomez during the 2014 show. Caught in an up-and-down, tabloid fodder of a relationship with Justin Bieber, Selena took to the stage in a stunning ball gown to perform her emotional ballad, “The Heart Wants What It Wants.” As the songstress sang, it was clear the emotions of the song got to her and at times she was unable to sing as she fought not to tear up. The authenticity of the moment struck a chord with audiences, and it remains one of the show’s most memorable moments.

#9: Miley Cyrus

“41st Annual American Music Awards” (2013)

With a wild-child personality like Miley Cyrus during her “Bangerz” era, most came to expect from the singer an over-the-top performance full of sexual innuendo that was sure to leave jaws dropping. But at the 2013 AMAs, Miley chose to shock audiences by doing just the opposite: a simple performance that showcased her pipes. While standing in front of a screen with giant lip-synching kitten behind her, Miley belted out the heart-wrenching lyrics of “Wrecking Ball,” her ballad about a strained relationship. Besides the kitten, there weren’t any theatrics and Miley proved that above all else she’s star because of her talent, not her antics.


“38th Annual American Music Awards” (2010)

By the 2010s, boy bands seemed like a thing of the past - but that doesn’t mean we’d turn down a performance from groups as legendary as the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block. In their first televised performance together, the two groups gave audiences a taste of their boy band supergroup. With so many hits between them, they gave fans what they wanted as they sang a medley including “I Want It That Way” and “The Right Stuff.” And they proved they still had their precise choreography down pat. The union of the two groups was the stuff of teenage dreams.

#7: Pink

“40th Annual American Music Awards” (2012)

Pink may be known for her acrobatic performances now, but her 2012 performance of “Try” at the AMAs is what showed the world this hidden talent. Through an expertly choreographed contemporary style number, Pink and her male dance partner showcased a crumbling relationship and as they fought in a decaying room. The physical performance showed off the singer’s control as she sang while doing the intricate moves. She made swinging from a chandelier look easy as she danced in a burning room. The performance felt intimate and earned her a standing ovation from the crowd.

#6: Taylor Swift

“42nd Annual American Music Awards” (2014)

During her 2014 appearance at the AMAs, Taylor brought the drama in the best possible way. In her first televised performance of “Blank Space,” Taylor embodied the man-eating character from the video. With a slightly crazed look in her eye, she shot down suitor after suitor, even poisoning one lover at the dinner table. Taylor utilized the stage and her elaborate staging that mimicked the posh mansion in the video. It was clear she was having the time of her life, which made the performance all the more fun to watch.

#5: Justin Bieber

“43rd Annual American Music Awards” (2015)

2015 was a massive year for Justin off of the strength of his “Purpose” album, and he gave the performance of a lifetime to showcase his recent hits. Singing a trio of songs, including “Sorry,” Justin showed that he still had the moves as he and his backup dancers came on with the hard-hitting choreography. As they performed, rain poured down around them, making it that much more epic to watch as they hit their marks. Justin’s vocals were angelic as always, and it really made for a dynamic performance.

#4: Lady Gaga

“37th Annual American Music Awards” (2009)

Known for her theatrical performances, Lady Gaga didn’t disappoint at the 2009 ceremony. Starting off with her mega-hit “Bad Romance,” Gaga and her backup dancers, dressed in skeletal-like flesh-colored outfits, stomped and danced around the stage in a high energy, frenzy of choreography. Ending the song by using her microphone stand to break the glass surrounding the piano behind her, Gaga shifted to a more subdued but equally awe-inspiring performance of her ballad, “Speechless.” The piano was literally on fire as she played, but it was secondary to the raw emotion in her soaring vocals.

#3: Whitney Houston

“21st Annual American Music Awards” (1994)

On the same night Whitney took home a record 8 trophies, she gave an absolutely show-stopping performance. Singing a medley of songs, including “I Have Nothing,” Whitney gave it her all as she belted out each one. With just the backing band behind her, it was a spotlight for her voice and a testament to her star power, accumulating to a moment for the ages. Whitney showed that her talent was second to none as not many performers, dead or alive, can capture the crowd the way she did.

#2: Beyoncé

“36th Annual American Music Awards” (2008)

Beyoncé is never a performer who phones it in, but somehow she still manages to top herself each time. Her 2008 appearance at the AMAs to perform “Single Ladies” is one of those times the Beyhive is still talking about today. With the expertly executed choreography, Bey and her two backing dancers gave such a high intensity performance as they moved across the stage. The three women were perfectly in-sync and kept all eyes on them. Beyoncé hit all the highs, and there definitely weren’t any low points in this performance.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“27th Annual American Music Awards” (2000)

Adam Lambert
“37th Annual American Music Awards” (2009)

PSY & MC Hammer
“40th Annual American Music Awards” (2012)

#1: Prince & the Revolution

“12th Annual American Music Awards” (1985)

There are artists and there are performers. And there are those who manage to transcend both of those labels to become legends like the sorely missed, Prince. During the 1985 telecast of the ceremony, Prince and his backing band, The Revolution, took to the stage to perform “Purple Rain,” the now iconic, hit song. Prince gave one of the show’s most memorable performances as he wowed the audience with his vocals and lengthy guitar solo at the song’s end. It’s not often that you witness an awards show crowd as transfixed as they were during his set, but this is one of those magical moments any artist would love to replicate.

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