ICYMI: Awards season is already underway, with the 2018 American Music Awards airing last night. Honoring the best in American music today across all genres, the AMAs have always been a great way to bring some of the most popular solo acts and musical groups together into one room. Think of it as a super-fun Grammys pregame where, in a delightful twist this year, the show was hosted by the always vivacious Black-ish actor Tracee Ellis Ross.
While the night is all about honoring the music and the artists who made it, the AMAs have also become a show where unexpectedly wild, memorable things can happen. Who could forget Garth Brooks rejecting his award for artist of the year before walking off the stage? Or Chrissy Teigen dropping F-bombs to protest the 2016 election results? When it comes to electric moments, the AMAs always seems to deliver.
And this year’s AMAs were no less electrifying. Over the course of the evening, this show gave us plenty of jaw-dropping performances, meaningful speeches and cuts to the crowd that made us go, “OK, now that’s cute.” Here’s a quick look at everything we’ll be remembering about the 2018 show in the years to come.
1. Taylor Swift set the mood
https://media.giphy.com/media/3oipUDJViSnD1UL4Tk/giphy.gifJust a day after dropping some political advice on her Instagram, Swift opened the show with the kind of showstopping performance that put the attention squarely back on her singing career. The AMAs also gave her a nice tribute introduction before she rocked out “I Did Something Bad” onstage, setting the stage for a fun night ahead.
2. Tracee Ellis Ross showed off her dance moves
https://media.giphy.com/media/Fdy0nb4DUOvy0W9lpE/giphy.gifIt is not easy to pull off a full-length musical performance when it’s not your regular day job. Host Ross opened the show with a montage dance showcasing her moves and poking fun at the difficulty of doing so when it’s not your prime gig. Color us very impressed.
3. Cardi B gave a shoutout to her baby girl
https://media.giphy.com/media/U81XNU8ZPcod12wRmM/giphy.gifDuring her acceptance speech for best rap/hip-hop artist and after thanking her reps, Cardi made time to include her daughter, citing the inspiration that her little girl was during her pregnancy.
“When I was pregnant, I was so influenced to be, like, ‘Yo, I got to do this. I got to show people wrong. I got to prove people wrong.’ Because they said I wasn’t going to make it after I had a baby.” Take that, haters.
4. Post Malone almost forgot his drink as he made his way to the stage
https://media.giphy.com/media/XZYR88UpyLSpJ58b9x/giphy.gifPerhaps he had nerves to kill (there’s even a thread about it), but before Post Malone went up to give a very sweetly humble speech for best male artist in the pop/rock category, he had to take a second and remember to hand his drink (red wine at that point) off to a neighbor.
5. Taylor Swift & Camila Cabello showed some best friend PDA
https://media.giphy.com/media/3qsyyyljsqMIVDljof/giphy.gifThere was lots of love for Camila Cabello this year, including an award for favorite pop or rock song. This moment in particular, though, when the camera caught her getting a boop from touring partner Taylor Swift, was too adorable for us.
6. Khalid gets political in his acceptance speech
https://media.giphy.com/media/1wXeKEFisltJQ2PeDx/giphy.gifLike many artists, Khalid thanked his mom, his team and the fans in his acceptance speech for best male soul/R&B artist. He also gave a shoutout to his home state of Texas before adding on “Shout out Beto,” giving props to Texas politician Beto O’Rourke, who’s currently running for U.S. Senate.
7. Cardi B livened up the AMAs with a colorful performance
https://media.giphy.com/media/e7POcBMNmN17zubw39/giphy.gifLeave it to Cardi B to have the most perfectly carnivalesque performance of the night. With Bad Bunny and J Balvin, she turned in a colorful, sensuous, over-the-top (read: very on-brand for Cardi) performance.
8. Billy Eichner reminded us all to register to vote
https://media.giphy.com/media/clGfTKaEcUTNaLPbtX/giphy.gifComedian Billy Eichner took the stage to present the award for adult contemporary artist alongside Bad Moms star Kathryn Hahn. Before announcing the winner, Eichner took a minute to urge people to register.
“Young people of America, the biggest election of our lifetime is happening. That’s right. On Nov. 6. Tonight is the final night to register in 20 states in this country. Please grab your friends. Tell them to vote. If you believe in equality for women, for people of color, for the LGBTQ community. If you believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it, don’t let anyone tell you your vote won’t count. Register and vote. You can go to Vote.gov, just like Taylor Swift told you.”
9. Jennifer Lopez delivered an unforgettable performance
https://media.giphy.com/media/tIFJ4K1G9Vj40fvx8u/giphy.gifLegends get that title for a reason. Lopez set herself above all other performances of the night with a moment that featured more restrained dancing but soaring vocals.
10. Camila Cabello was just so happy to be there
https://media.giphy.com/media/bx77nKlCEEonhUg7WF/giphy.gifThe singer was all over the event this year and stunned viewers, and herself, looking and sounding like a princess during her performance of “Consequences.” Her face when she finished said it all.
11. Ciara revived us halfway through the show
https://media.giphy.com/media/30pT0TB9pXJMDVlBoU/giphy.gifAny award show starts to drag on after a while. This year’s organizers were smart and took care of that problem by scheduling Ciara’s performance at just the right moment. The singer got everyone on their feet with “Level Up,” featuring a drop-in by Missy Elliott.
12. Taylor Swift set a record at the AMAs
https://media.giphy.com/media/4Tbi3Jx18lieZ7exZi/giphy.gifWith her win for the final award of the night, artist of the year Swift passed Whitney Houston as the most awarded artist in AMA history. She used the opportunity to get a little political, saying, “Thank you for this incredible symbol of encouragement. Thank you so much for this, and I just want to make a mention of the fact that this award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people?… the midterm on Nov. 6. Get out and vote, and I love you guys.“
13. Gladys Knight paid tribute to legends we’ve lost
https://media.giphy.com/media/w82VD99y5cDfYUaXBS/giphy.gifWe’ve lost several great artists throughout 2018, most notably Aretha Franklin. So it was only fitting that the AMAs paid tribute to this legendary artist while closing out the show on a high note. Gladys Knight performed “Amazing Grace” and was later joined by Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans and Ledisi.
The 2018 AMAs were pretty darn good, so of course we’re already prepped for 2019’s show. Bring it on.