The American Music Awards: A Celebration of Music and its Diversity

Written by: Mehek

Edited by: Jessica

Visual by: Ethan

Music has always held a pivotal role in society. From the beginning of human civilization, where music was used as a way to worship higher beings, to modern day society belting out sad songs to get over hardships, music has truly expanded over the years. Modern day music has culturally widened to capture a large audience and diverse music tastes with a variety of genres from pop to rap to lo-fi. To celebrate how far music has come, its diversity and the musical artists who put substantial time and effort into their craft, many music award shows are held, with one of the biggest being the American Music Awards (AMAs).

Created by Dick Clark at the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1973, the AMAs  garner millions of viewers each year. World renowned artists and celebrities come dressed in some of their most extravagant and luxurious outfits, and many perform their biggest hit songs for the audience. This year’s guests did not disappoint with big stars like BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, and Madelyn Cline all in attendance. Cardi B also made her hosting debut at this year’s show. Despite her saying that she was “a little nervous” as she welcomed the audience to the awards show, her hosting skills were incredible and her signature humour brought down the house. Having a black female rapper like Cardi B host the AMA’s this year is a celebration of how far society has come in terms of diversity in the music industry and the large variety of artists in mainstream media.    

Just like Cardi B, many artists from a large range of genres did a phenomenal job on their performances. The show opened with Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak) delivering their smooth hit song “Smokin’ Out the Window” from their new album “An Evening with Silk Sonic”,  setting the bar high for the rest of the night’s performers. To continue the show, young rocketing artist Olivia Rodrigo also performed her emotional song “traitor”. Rodrigo’s debut album “Sour” blew up earlier this year thanks to the popularity of her hit song “driver’s license” and the drama behind her rumoured breakup with Joshua Bassett. And finally, with one of the most anticipated performances of the night, K-Pop band BTS closed out the show with their upbeat single “Butter”, perfectly paired with their amazing dance moves. With new up and coming songs like “Smokin’ Out the Window”, popular trending songs like “Traitor” and some foreign K-POP songs like BTS’s “Butter”, the AMA’s attempted to display the range of music from over the past year, and how diverse music can be in terms of the messages they deliver and the creative ways that they deliver these messages. The display of such a wide variety of songs by the AMA shows the encouragement for growth in the music industry and how they want to continue to see the industry diversify and expand. 

Along with incredible performances, the AMAs also gave out awards to many of the hit artists of this year, celebrating their hard work and accomplishments in the past year. Many of the winners weren’t a surprise to anyone, with Drake getting Favorite Male Hip – Hop Artist of the Year, and The Weeknd getting Favorite Male R&B Artist of the Year. However, other categories saw tight competition between artists (and their fanbases) seeking to take their own awards home. Taylor Swift’s infamous fans, aptly called “Swifties”, were particularly happy with Taylor bringing home Favorite Female Pop Artist and Favorite Pop Album for her album “Evermore”. Another big event of the night was singer Olivia Rodrigo winning New Artist of the Year. Along with being one of the youngest to win the award at 18 years-old, she is also making history as one of the first Filipino-Americans to win this award. While there are so many Filipino singers with amazing voices, there aren’t too many that have been able to successfully make their way into mainstream media. Olivia winning such a prestigious award brings pride and honor to her country, as well as hope that other smaller Filipino artists will make it to mainstream media and get the recognition they deserve. One of the biggest awards of the night, Artist of the Year, had some of the biggest artists as nominees like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and Drake. This particular award had everyone at the edge of their seats, wondering who would get the honor to take home such a esteemed prize. It was later revealed that BTS were the winners of this much coveted award, along with their other two awards: Favorite Pop Group or Duo and Favorite Pop Song with their hit single “Butter”. BTS is the first Asian artist or group of artists to ever receive such a prestigious award of artist of the year in the span of 47 years, making many proud to finally see work from outside the United States being recognized by a global audience. Sophomore, Gladys commented on this win saying, “being able to see them [BTS] win that award firstly defied the odds of everyone who has belittled and mocked them and secondly, paved the way for more Asian representation in the Western media”. The win made her “feel so incredibly proud as their fan and as an Asian.” With some of these awards being given to non – American artists like BTS for the first time, and it is this recognition of these different artists around the globe that is a huge step closer to diversity in the music industry. 

From Cardi B’s incredible hosting to BTS’s amazing performing skills, audiences were treated to a sensational show. We were able to see history being made at the AMAs with BTS being the first Asian act to ever get the award of Artist of the Year and Olivia Rodrigo being one of the first Filipino – Americans to get New Artist of the Year. Having artists of color receive such prestigious awards brings hope and brings us closer towards diversity of musical artists in mainstream media. A lot of great music was put out in the past year, and the AMA’s did a great job of celebrating that. In the next year of music we hope to see a lot more great music put out not only from a wide range of genres but also from a large variety of artists from different backgrounds, and hope this will lead to a larger more diverse group of artists at the AMA’s next year.

Works Cited

Diane J. Cho and Lauren Lieberman  November 21, 2021 07:04 PM. “See Every Star on the Red Carpet at the 2021 American Music Awards!” PEOPLE.com, people.com/music/2021-american-music-awards-arrivals-red-carpet-photos/.

Seemayer‍ Zach. “2021 AMAs: Best Moments and Biggest Performances of the Night!” Entertainment Tonight, Entertainment Tonight, 22 Nov. 2021, http://www.etonline.com/2021-american-music-awards-the-best-moments-and-biggest-performances-of-the-night-175506.Swift, Andy. “American Music Awards 2021: Complete List of Winners.” TVLine, TVLine, 22 Nov. 2021, tvline.com/2021/11/21/american-music-awards-winners-list-2021-amas/.