LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Taylor Swift, straight off her first, controversial public dive into U.S. politics, opened the American Music Awards show on Tuesday but left rallying the vote to others.
2018 American Music Awards – Show – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 09/10/2018 – Taylor Swift’s opening performance “I Did Something Bad”. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Dressed in a sparkly black leotard and thigh-high boots, the 28-year-old singer performed “I Did Something Bad” from her 2017 album “reputation,” on a set adorned by a huge mechanical cobra and red smoke.
On Sunday, Swift provoked a storm by breaking her silence on political matters and announcing she would vote for two Democrats in Tennessee in the U.S. congressional midterm elections in November.
The country-turned-pop singer picked up the trophy for best tour, the first of four possible wins on Tuesday, but confined her remarks to thanking her fans, tour dancers, musicians and crew.
But show host Tracee Ellis Ross sported a white T-shirt saying “I am a voter,” and presenter Billy Eichner, best known for the TV comedy “Parks and Recreation,” urged the youth audience to register to vote.
“You can go to vote.org, like Taylor Swift told you to,” Eichner said, to cheers from the audience.
“Now is the time, if you believe in equality for women, for people of color, in the LGBTQ community. If you believe climate change is real. … Don’t believe anyone who tells you your vote doesn’t count,” Eichner said.
Swift already has a record three artist-of-the-year wins at the fan-voted American Music Awards, and was competing again for the top title on Tuesday against rappers Drake and Post Malone, as well as Britain’s Ed Sheeran and rock band Imagine Dragons
New York rapper Cardi B, who went into the show sharing a leading eight nominations with Drake, brought down the house with an exuberant performance of dance hit “I Like It” with J.Balvin and Bad Bunny. She was also named favorite hip-hop/rap artist.
Other winners included Post Malone (male pop/rock artist), Khalid (male soul/R&B artist), Cuban-born Camila Cabello (pop/rock song “Havana”) and country star Carrie Underwood, who accepted her 13th American Music Award.
Boy band BTS became the first Korean group to win an American Music Award, taking the trophy for favorite social artists.
A tribute led by Gladys Knight to Aretha Franklin, who died of cancer in August at age 76, was expected to close the three-hour show.
Some of music’s top stars, including Drake, Sheeran, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Rihanna and Kanye West, were absent on Tuesday. West was snubbed in the nominations while Beyonce, Rihanna and Grande got just one nomination each.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Leslie Adler