Canadian rapper Drake won his first ever American Music Awards on Sunday and former One Direction boy band member Zayn was voted best new artist.
Drake, 30, who got a leading 13 nominations, took home the awards for best rap/hip-hop artists and album for his best-selling Views, which earlier this year became the first album to earn one billion streams on Apple Music.
“For our genre, I like to keep things exciting and keep making music… more like this is coming soon,” Drake said, accepting the award.
Pop singer Selena Gomez, 24, surprised fans by making her first major public appearance since cutting short her world tour in August to deal with anxiety, panic attacks and depression caused by an earlier diagnosis of lupus.
Gomez walked the red carpet in a red full-length gown and is a contender for the night’s top prize – artist of the year – to be announced at the end of the evening.
Zayn Malik, who quit British boy band One Direction last year to launch a solo career, beat Canadian newcomer Shawn Mendes to take the best new artist trophy. “It’s been a crazy year… I didn’t expect anyone to still vote for me,” said Zayn.
Girl group Fifth Harmony, formed during the X-Factor TV talent show, won best collaboration for Work From Home, Twenty One Pilots were voted best pop/rock group, and Tim McGraw won favorite country song for Humble and Kind.
Despite an overwhelming lead in nominations, Drake was knocked out of the running for artist of the year before Sunday’s show had started.
The American Music Awards are entirely fan-voted, and the 10 artists of the year nominees were pared down by fans last week to five. Beyonce, Adele, The Weeknd and Twenty One Pilots were also removed from contention, leaving Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Gomez, Ariana Grande and Carrie Underwood vying for the title.
Bieber, whose five nominations include favorite video, male artist, pop/rock album and song, performed Never Give Up via satellite from a concert in Italy. Featured performers on Sunday will include Sting, who last week released his first pop/rock album in a decade, 57th and 9th, and who is to sing a medley of his greatest hits.
The British singer-songwriter is to be presented with an honorary award recognizing his contribution to the music industry. Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Niall Horan, James Bay and John Legend were among the dozens of other performers on the Los Angeles stage.
The American Music Awards were created in 1973 as an alternative to the Grammys. This year, organizers added new categories for tour and video of the year while the crowded song of the year race was split into different categories for pop/rock, country, R&B/soul and rap/hip-hop.