Here’s a reason to love the American Music Awards, or AMAs, which air this Sunday – their methodology is completely transparent. Compare the AMAs to, say, the Grammys, which involve voting by the academy which, frankly, isn’t even that hard to get into, and whose votes can kinda be gamed. (What are the Grammys even about? Popularity with the academy? Sales? The random token winners like Arcade Fire that one year?)
No, no, the American Music Awards are framed on what makes Amurrica great: populism. There’s no shady goings-on behind the scenes here; winners are chosen by fan vote.
This means that the artists who appear at the thing are, duh, popular. The list of performers at the AMAs this year—the show’s 40th!—read like a who’s-who of everyone essential right now, from Lady Gaga on down to Luke Bryan.
It’s also one of the more fun national awards shows in general. The Grammys try for seriousness; the Oscars are glamorous; the Emmys are just boring, for the most part; and the VMAs’ entire goal is to shock and ride out the resulting blogosphere waves, hard. The AMAs, meanwhile, are more light-hearted, high-gloss and tasty to consume. You know, like a really good dessert.
So here are seven predictions for this year’s awards—which Fusion will also be covering live on the
1. This will be the most Latino edition of the show to date.
Pitbull was chosen to host because he’s a big star, not as a ghettoized thing. Love or hate his music, that’s pretty cool. Jennifer Lopez’s planned tribute to Celia Cruz may also be one of the first of its kind in a major, English-language music awards program.
2. The show will, at the same time, cement a resurgence for country.
Country purists may be at their wit’s end over what often passes for “country” on mainstream radio, but they should be happy there’s Top 40 interest again in what’s coming out of the Nashville machine. Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line veer into different directions from straight-ahead country, dabbling with pop, rock, and even hip-hop, but their appearance here proves Nashvegas is a mainstream force again.
3. Macklemore will be very, very deadly earnest, and everyone will pat themselves on the back for presenting accolades to such a conscious artist.
Hey, the guy is standing up for Important Feelings and Principles. It’s hard to hate on that.
4. I’m not sure what he’s got planned, but anything that Michael Bolton does will be MAGIC.
Look at the list of planned presenters. Now imagine shaking them in a hat, and pulling out any random one to pair up with Michael Bolton. Doesn’t matter who you draw – hijinks will ensue, right? Michael Bolton!
5. Taylor Swift will do the aw-shucks thing somehow. It will look even more disingenuous.
I’m not a betting woman, but if I were….
6. Ariana Grande will absolutely claim her new position on the R&B throne.
Her fans and even hard-to-please critics have shouted this from the rooftops for months, but Ariana is the Next Coming in Soulful Classic R&B Female Vocals. She’s got the chops to sing live, and I have a feeling she’ll pull this off with grand flair instead of lip syncing like some of her other peers onstage. Go Ariana, we’re rooting for you; fight off the demons!
7. Miley will do something very Miley.
She’s the closing act so she just has to, you know? This is all by design. It’s how the world works. Breathe in, breathe out, and accept.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.