Taylor Swift kicked off the American Music Awards as a mad woman and man eater by feeding a boy a poisonous apple, holding burning roses and giving crazy eyes during a performance of her song about her dating life.
Swift sang her new No. 1 hit, “Blank Space,” Sunday night at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. She was aggressive, grabbing her male dancers by their blazers and singing in character on bended knee. She even removed part of her dress to reveal a shimmery, leg-revealing gold number.
She will receive the first-ever Dick Clark Award for Excellence, to be presented by Diana Ross.
One Direction won the night’s first award for favorite band, duo or group – pop/rock, beating out Imagine Dragons and OneRepublic.
“This has been a real perfect day … America feels like a second home to us,” Liam Payne said onstage with his band mates.
One Direction is still up for the night’s top award – artist of the year. They are contending with Beyonce, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea, who is the lead nominee and will close Sunday’s show with a performance alongside Jennifer Lopez for “Booty.”
The Australian rapper, 24, is nominated for six awards, including new artist and single of the year for her smash hit, “Fancy.”
Another Australian act, the boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, will battle Azalea for new artist of the year, capping out a successful year with a sold-out tour and top-selling debut album.
Host Pitbull followed Swift with a string of jokes, and he will also perform later in the show. The night will feature a slew of A-Listers onstage, including Garth Brooks, Fergie, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, Lil Wayne, Lorde, Nicki Minaj, One Direction and Sam Smith.
Perry, Pharrell and John Legend are also up for multiple awards. Their hits “Dark Horse,” “Happy” and “All of Me” will compete with “Fancy” and MAGIC!’s “Rude” for single of the year. All of the songs reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Azalea, Perry and Lorde are nominated for favorite female artist – pop/rock, while Legend, Pharrell and Smith are nominated for favorite male artist – pop/rock. Legend and Pharrell are also up for favorite male artist – soul/R&B, along with Chris Brown.
Bryan, who was named entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards this month, is up against Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean for favorite male artist – country. Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Kacey Musgraves are nominated for favorite female artist – country.
“All About That Bass” singer Meghan Trainor, who will be a presenter, will battle Azalea, Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer and Bastille for new artist of the year. Other presenters include Drake, Jamie Foxx, Khloe Kardashian, Jenny McCarthy and T.I.
The soundtrack for “Frozen,” the year’s top-selling album, is nominated for top soundtrack and will compete with “The Fault In Our Stars” and “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin