Taylor Swift at American Music Awards in 2018

The 2020 AMAs: Taylor Swift Skipped it and The Weeknd Was Bandaged Up

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This year’s American Music Awards certainly didn’t disappoint!

From Taylor Swift skipping the ceremony to The Weeknd’s bloodied and bandaged face, there’s plenty to talk about.

The 2020 American Music Awards

The American Music Awards broadcast live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 22.

Host Taraji P. Henson was joined by a limited audience for the awards show. Yes, you read that correctly: there was an audience. It’s actually a pretty rare sight in a year that’s seen plenty of audience-free or all-virtual events.

Henson referenced the months people have spent at home amid the pandemic, saying she was “happy to be off the couch and in some real fashion.” I know we all can relate.

She explained that the sparse audience was made up of invited guests in small groups from the same households. Not only was everyone socially distanced and wearing face masks for the night, they also had to get tested for COVID-19 in order to attend.

Why Taylor Swift Skipped the Ceremony

One star was noticeably absent from the ceremony: Taylor Swift.

The singer won three awards, pushing her to 32 total AMA wins — the most by any artist in the show’s history. But among those awards, she took the coveted fan-voted Artist of the Year.

Swift wasn’t in attendance to accept her awards, but it wasn’t COVID-related. Instead, she appeared via video from another location, T-Swift thanked her fans, who she said “have been beyond wonderful all the years of my career, but especially this one when we’ve been so far apart. We haven’t been able to see each other in concert.”

But she went on to explain why she wasn’t there, saying, “The reason I’m not there tonight is I’m actually recording all of my old music in the studio where we originally recorded it. So, it’s been amazing, and I can’t wait for you to hear it.”

Stellar Live Music Performances

Like many other music awards shows, though, it’s really all about the live music performances.

Megan Thee Stallion was on fire with a rendition of her Good News single “Body,” twerking without breaking a sweat and bringing down the house with her enthusiastic, body-positive number.

Katy Perry slowed it down to croon the heartfelt ballad “Only Love” with singer-songwriter Darius Rucker. The stark simplicity of the song off Perry’s new Smile album was refreshing. And frankly, I’m impressed considering the pop star just welcomed daughter Daisy Dove in August.

Nelly took us to Grammar school, and busted out three hits from his 20-year-old classic, Country Grammar. Sure, he’s been showing us he’s still a great entertainer over on Dancing With the Stars, but it’s never a bad time to revisit “E.I.,” “Country Grammar,” and “Ride Wit Me.”

Superstar J.Lo hit the stage with Maluma for a choreography-heavy performance of “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely” from the upcoming film Marry Me. And while we’ll have to wait until 2021 to see what they bring to the big screen together, one can only assume it’s going to be sizzling after seeing the chemistry between them on the AMAs stage.

The Weeknd Was Bandaged and Bloody

The Weeknd didn’t disappoint, though his appearance left some confused. Strutting down an empty L.A. freeway with fireworks exploding around him, the performance of “In Your Eyes” and “Save Your Tears” was a stunning visual highlight of the AMAs. Oh, and don’t forget the smooth Kenny G cameo.

But why was The Weeknd all bandaged up at the AMAs and the VMAs? He’s sending a message based off the music and persona he was promoting for his album After Hours and the short films he made for “Blinding Lights” and “After Hours.” He’s using his platform to warn against drunk driving — and the visual appearance is to show what kind of injuries can happen when drunk driving leads to car accidents.