Taylor Swift won artist of the year at the 2009 American Music Awards Sunday, beating Michael Jackson for the title.
Swift won in five of the six categories in which she was nominated at this year's AMAs. Jackson posthumously won four AMAs this year. He now has a total of 23 AMAs, a record.
But music fans know the AMAs are just as much about performances as the awards. This year was no exception.
Performance-wise, there was the good: Lady Gaga's mirror-shattering, flame-infused, two-song performance; an energetic performance of "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys; Whitney Houston's emotional comeback rendition of "I Didn't Know My Own Strength."
There was the bad, namely an over-hyped performance by Jennifer Lopez. She sang her new single, "Louboutins," amid a cheesy boxing gimmick -- she also took a tumble, to make matters worse.
And, of course, there was the "is this really happening?" That distinction goes to "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert, who shocked fans with a sex-infused rendition of his new single, "For Your Entertainment." He put a male dancer on a leash, and rubbed his crotch against a male dancer's face.
Was Lambert's performance artistic, or too much to handle? Who was your favorite performer of the night? And does Taylor Swift deserve to be artist of the year?
Read the full recap below, and then share your thoughts with us.
The show opened with an extended performance by Janet Jackson. She sang a medley of her greatest hits, including songs like "Miss You Much," "What Have You Done for Me Lately," "If" and more. She also performed her newest song, "Make Me." Then, she wrapped up with her 1997 hit, "Together Again." Even though Janet didn't directly mention Michael Jackson during the song, it seemed to pay tribute to her brother.
Then, the awards kicked off.
8:08: Paula Abdul takes the podium, reminding us that fans decide the winners of the AMAs.
8:10: The Black Eyed Peas win best pop/rock band, duo or group.
8:15: Rascal Flatts win best country band, duo or group.
8:17: Daughtry performs "Life After You." It's a typical guitar-heavy performance, no major frills. The song is good, though.
8:20: Shakira performs, opening her number with a step routinte. She's accompanied by a leotard-clad step troupe. She sings "Give It Up to Me" while donning a slinky black getup. In its original form, the song features Lil Wayne, but he's not here for this performance. The song is heavy on the pelvic thrusts, to say the least.
Yikes. I just lost my Internet connection. Sorry, guys. I blame it on Kanye West trying to sabotage a future Taylor Swift win.
Anyway, while I was struggling with the Internet, Keith Urban performed "Kiss a Girl" while wearing a glittery shirt and a pocket chain...yes, all in the same outfit. Then, Kelly Clarkson sang "Already Gone' while accompanied by a small stringed orchestra. It was good, but I'm kind of craving the energy of her "Since U Been Gone" days.
8:44: Taylor Swift wins favorite female pop/rock artist. Did she really deserve to beat Beyonce and Lady Gaga? I don't know. Anyway, Taylor's not there, but she accepts the award via video from her tour in London.
8:46: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys sing a very classy version of "Empire State of Mind." Maybe my favorite performance so far.
8:51: Green Day wins best alternative rock group.
8:58: Kate Hudson's outfit is on the verge of a serious upper-body wardrobe malfunction.
8:59: Black Eyed Peas perform "Meet Me Halfway" and "Boom Boom Pow." And then...a guitar bit from "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Between robots, bright lights and Fergie's skimpy tutu look, there's a lot going on here.
9:06: Michael Jackson wins favorite male soul/R&B artist. It's his 22nd AMA. Jermaine Jackson accepts, with his kids on stage. "Thank you so much, we love you Michael."
9:13: Keith Urban wins favorite male country artist. It's his first AMA.
9:14: "American Idol" winner Kris Allen takes the stage...as a presenter. Ouch. I wonder how he feels about the fact that runner-up Adam Lambert secured a spot as a performer?
9:15: Beyonce wins favorite female soul/R&B artist. She's not there to accept. No video acceptance, either.
9:16: Rihanna performs "The Wait is Ova." She's wearing a weird white getup that involves spikes and holes. It even lights up. This one will likely divide fans...and non-fans. Does anyone else prefer "Russian Roulette"?
9:26: Carrie Underwood performs "Cowboy Casanova." Her shorts/dress getup is a bit odd, but overall it's an entertaining performance. Not too original, though.
9:30: Lady Gaga performs! She sings "Bad Romance" while wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit and a light-up mask and vest thing. Two minutes into the song, she's crawling on the floor. Yes! Then, she smashes a giant mirror to climb into a space containing a piano. Her mask is now off, but the piano is on fire. She plays the piano and sings "Speechless." So dramatic, so Gaga. She's now smashing water bottles. The song concludes with giant flames bursting out of the piano.
9:35: Of course, top fan Perez Hilton raves about Gaga's performance. He tells the audience there's "so many divas on one stage and I haven't gotten into a fight with any of them yet." The night is young, dude.
9:41: Mary J. Blige performs "I Am." It's vocally solid, but a bit boring. OK, maybe a LOT boring.
9:45: Time for the T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist award. It goes to country act Gloriana. Huh? How did they beat Lady Gaga? Something tells me there was some serious mom texting going on. This is the award that lets viewers vote during the show, after all.
9:47: Gloriana accepts the award, poking a little fun at themselves. A member asks audience members to raise their hands if they just asked who Gloriana is.
9:48: Jennifer Lopez performs her new single, "Louboutins." There's a boxing ring setup, but not much creativity beyond that. It looks like she falls mid-dance, but plays it off. Not very well, though. Overall, the whole thing is very underwhelming. So much advance hype, so much disappointment. I'm craving some Adam Lambert.
9:58: Whitney Houston named International Artist of the Year.
9:59: Whitney Houston performs "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." She looks and sounds really good. My viewing partner and I agree: You can safely call this a comeback. One of the night's best performances. The audience is on their feet and guests like Reba McEntire are crying.
10:02: Quick Twitter update from my stalking: Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton says via Twitter that he blames T-Mobile for Gaga losing the breakthrough artist category.
10:05: Whitney accepts her award
10:07: Another quick Twitter update from my stalking: When Perez Hilton came on camera after Gaga's performance, he made a crack about bonding with Derek Hough from "Dancing with the Stars" in the bathroom. On Twitter, Derek's sister Julianne recently tweeted, "ok you know I love you perez!! But dude... My brother??? Really??? Not the way he roles!! Totally Messed up!!!"
10:12: Taylor Swift wins favorite female country artist. She accepts again via video.
10:13: Michael Jackson wins favorite pop/rock male artist. Jermaine Jackson is back to accept. This is Michael's 23rd AMA. He breaks an AMA record. "The message that Michael had will live on forever," Jermaine says.
10:15: Alicia Keys performs "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart." It's a pretty good performance that concludes with her playing a piano on a revolving podium. Another pretty memorable one.
10:25: Eminem and 50 Cent perform "Crack a Bottle." There are bits of a Drake song, but Drake is not on stage. Also, the performance is possibly taped. Lots of censoring.
10:30: Timbaland performs his new song, "The Morning After," featuring vocals by SoShy and Nelly Furtado. The tune is kind of catchy, but I'm not terribly impressed. AMA fatigue is setting in. Hopefully the hype surrounding Adam Lambert's upcoming performance is warranted.
10:38: Green Day performs "21 Guns." The band rocks out, obviously, but their setup is a bit predictable.
10:45: Jay-Z wins best male hip-hop artist.
10:52: Taylor Swift wins artist of the year, beating Michael Jackson for the title. Including the awards not given on air, Taylor won five AMAs this year. MJ won four. "Music has never been ultimately about competition," Taylor says, and then praises Michael Jackson. She tells fans, "You have given me so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving."
10:55: Adam Lambert performs his new single, "For Your Entertainment." Oh wow. This is extreme. Adam is wearing spikes and people are on leashes. And -- WOW! -- Adam is pushing some guy's face into his crotch! Yowza. I have never seen a camera move away so quickly in my life. Dancers are surrounding Adam in dominatrix gear! Adam has his tongue in somebody's mouth! Lots of humping is also involved, if you can believe that. His vocals? Well, they're typical Adam Lambert. Lots of high, shrieky notes. Just what we saw out of him on "Idol." But wow...the crotch nestling might have been a bit too extreme. What do you think?