Taylor Swift won the first of five possible American Music Awards on Sunday, setting up a night she is expected to dominate after making headlines for the past week because of a bitter feud with her old record label.
Swift, 29, took home the award for best pop/rock album for her recent release “Lover.”
“This album really felt like a new beginning,” Swift said, thanking her fans.
Going into the fan-voted awards show, Swift had five nods, including artist of the year. She needs to win only one more of her nominations on Sunday to surpass Michael Jackson’s all-time American Music Awards record of 24 wins.
Swift will also receive a special honor, as artist of the decade, but her appearance has been overshadowed by her public spat with record industry executive Scooter Braun over whether she could sing her old hits when she performs later on Sunday.
The dispute culminated with Braun, who owns the master recordings to her first six albums after Swift signed with a new label last year, saying last week that his family had received numerous death threats as a result of the pop singer’s accusations of bullying and tyrannical behavior
The other artist of the year nominees are Drake, Ariana Grande, Halsey and rapper Post Malone, who led all comers with seven nods.
Newcomer Billie Eilish, 17, took home the first two of six possible awards – for best new artist and best alternative rock artist – after a breakout year that saw her top the U.S. charts with her single “Bad Girl.”
“You made it all happen,” said Eilish, thanking her fans.
Eilish showed her support for environmental causes by wearing a T-shirt that read: said “No Music on a Dead Planet” as she gave her first awards show performance with “All the Good Girls Go to Hell.”
Selena Gomez kicked off the ceremony in Los Angeles in her first live TV performance in two years after undergoing a kidney transplant in 2017 and battling anxiety and depression.
Body positive R&B singer Lizzo performed her new single “Jerome,” and Cuban-born Camila Cabello and boyfriend Shawn Mendes sang their hit pop single “Senorita,” which won the award for collaboration of the year.
Later in the three-hour show, British rocker Ozzy Osbourne, 70, who has been sidelined by serious health problems for a year, will make a comeback by taking the stage with rappers Post Malone, Travis Scott and rocker WATT for their single “Take What You Want,” while punk rockers Green Day will mark the 25th anniversary of their 1994 breakout album “Dookie.”