All eyes were on Taylor Swift as she dominated the American Music Awards following her high-profile feud with music mogul Scooter Braun and her former record label.
But in the end, the star – who became the most successful artist in the awards’ history, with six prizes including artist of the year and of the decade – made just a subtle reference to the fallout about the rights to her first six records.
Performing a medley of hits, she started off wearing a white shirt emblazoned with the albums’ names in a prison-style font, and opened her set with The Man – which debates how much more successful she might be if she were male – from her latest record, Lover.
In her acceptance speech, Swiftsaid the previous 12 months had given her “some of the most amazing times”, as well as “the hardest things I’ve gone through in my life”.
She thanked her fans, adding: “This year for me has been a lot. It’s been a lot of good, it’s been a lot of really complicated.”
Swift reduced many in the audience to tears – including her mother, Andrea – and said the honour celebrated 10 years of “hard work and of art and of fun and memories”.
Her artist of the decade prize had been announced before the ceremony, with plans for the star to perform songs from her back catalogue at the show.
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But earlier this month, the singer accused Braun and Scott Borchetta, the founder of her former label Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), of “exercising tyrannical control” over what she could play.
However, BMLG later released a statement saying it had reached an agreement with the AMAs.
Swift’s six awards included favourite female artist in the pop/rock category and favourite pop/rock album for Lover.
It means she surpasses the late Michael Jackson as the most successful artist in the ceremony’s history, with a total of 29 wins.
She was named artist of the year ahead of Drake, Ariana Grande, Halsey and Post Malone.
While Swift was the big winner of the evening, other artists also provided some memorable moments.
Seventeen-year-old Billie Eilish continued a huge year – after performing at Glastonbury and being nominated for Grammys in 2020 – by winning the best new artist and alternative rock artist prizes.
“You made it all happen, man,” the teenager said as she thanked her fans. “I’m like, shaking.”
Rapper Post Malone, whose seven nominations were the most on the night, won favourite rap/hip-hop album for Hollywood’s Bleeding.
He performed on stage alongside Travis Scott and Ozzy Osbourne – the legendary metal star’s first appearance on stage since recovering from injuries suffered in a fall at home.
Osbourne, 70, spent most of the performance seated in a gothic-style throne towards the back of the stage, and was seen waving his arms while encouraging the audience, including wife Sharon and daughter Kelly, to do the same.
Halsey won the prize for favourite pop/rock song for her hit Without Me, while Carrie Underwood won favourite country artist and country album of the year.
The ceremony featured a star-studded line-up of performers, including Kesha, Green Day and Selena Gomez.
Twenty-five years after winning her first award at the ceremony, singer Toni Braxton performed her huge 1990s hit Un-Break My Heart, while new artist of the year nominee Lizzo performed her single, Jerome.
Country music star Thomas Rhett and celebrity couple Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes – who beat Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper to win collaboration of the year for Senorita – were also among the performers.
Before the show officially kicked off, Dan + Shay were named favourite duo or group in the country category, while K-pop favourites BTS won in the pop/rock category.
Canadian singer-songwriter Shania Twain brought the curtain down on the night with a medley of songs – mashing up the biggest hits of recent years with some of her own best-known tracks, including That Don’t Impress Me Much and You’re Still The One.
Twain, a five-time Grammy winner, has sold more than 100 million records, making her one of the most successful musicians in history.