AMAs 2012: Usher, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Wanted, and more performance reviews

AMAsWe know that there are some actual awards handed out at the American Music Awards every year, but we may as well be honest here: the show is really just as much about the performances. They cover the vast majority of the show’s runtime, and with the roster that ABC assembled this year, it is really pretty understandable that they would.

If you look below, we’ve assembled every performance from the big ABC show along with some gut reactions for them. This will be updated live (no worries!), and we will also try to provide video if it available later on in the night. Stay tuned…

Usher – We must be in a good mood today: usually, Usher’s awards-show performers come across as pretty forgettable, but this really echoed a pop star at the top of his game. The biggest surprise here was that he was able to move around and stay in tune at the same time. Ask anyone who is on stage how difficult this is to pull off. Grade: B

Carly Rae Jepsen – Easily, this was Carly Rae’s best performance ever at an awards show. First things first, her style has really evolved since when she was first performing “Call Me Maybe” at this sort of events. This time around, she smartly combined it with new single “This Kiss,” and she had a much better command of the stage than ever before … even if so of the notes were breathy. Grade: B-

The Wanted – The American Music Awards are a venue for you to show off some new music, but it is typically a good idea in the process to show off something that America knows around. We don’t know how these boys got away with not performed “Glad You Came” or “Chasing the Sun,” even even though it was fairly remarkable that they could hit some of these falsetto notes in tune. Grade: C+

Kelly Clarkson – Kelly really put everything from her career into this; as a way to highlight her upcoming Greatest Hits album, she performed everything from “Miss Independent” to “Stronger” and even her current single “Catch My Breath” all in a matter of minutes. While it would have been cool to have a few lines from a ballad in here, it is still very hard to fault her at all for some awesome. Grade: A-

Ke$ha – We’re not writing this as a hater of “Die Young,” since the song is actually pretty great. This performance, however, was a mess. The backing track was so strong Ke$ha could have just sent anyone out on stage, and the whole African tribal theme to it was just a little random and didn’t make any sense. The only reason this gets a passing grade is because of the drum breakdown … and we’ll forget her flailing on the floor entirely. Grade: C-

No Doubt – There is a part of us that just wished that Gwen Stefani and company came out and performed “Hella Good” or “Hey Baby” than their new song “Looking Hot.” The group did at least put their all into it, but it was not the sort of performance that anyone will be talking about weeks down the road. Grade: C+

Taylor Swift – Personally, we prefer Taylor when she is staying a little bit closer to some of her country music roots, since it is as a storyteller that she really shines. However, she is gradually gravitating towards pop, and this was still a fairly satisfying performance just from a theatrical standpoint with the costume swap. Grade: B-

Linkin Park – Sure, every Linkin Park song sounds the same at this point with a few exceptions, but these guys can still rock out. Whoever thought we would be living in a world where this band was considered somewhat dated? They are still creative as a rock / rap hybrid that there is so little of out there. Grade: B-

Nicki Minaj – What a surprisingly muted, refreshing performance from Nicki here. We were not really that familiar with the song “Freedom,” but it was easy to connect to the lyrics … because she really made it easy. Her vocals were not big by any means, but the rapping her was some of the best she has done live. Grade: A

Pink – One of the most incredible performances ever on this show. It was almost like a routine on “So You Think You Can Dance” when it came to the storytelling, but then there were vocals to go along with it. We love how everything Pink does is big, since she would otherwise not even bother to do it at all. Grade: A+

Justin Bieber – There was something rather interesting about the first half of Bieber’s performance set to “As Long As You Love Me,” especially as he rapped the part that could have easily been about his troubled relationship at the moment with Selena Gomez. This was a pretty heartfelt moment for the 18-year old, and we almost wish that it ended here versus transitioning into a “Beauty and the Beat” that he only sang about half of. Grade: A- for the first half, D+ for the second half

Christina Aguilera – This was just strange all around. The theme here made no sense, the dancing was questionable, and we also have to wonder why in the world one of the greatest singers in the world would rely this much on a computer while she performs. Grade: D

Pitbull – Let’s forget this already happened. It shouldn’t be hard. Grade: C-

Carrie Underwood – Carrie’s a great singer, but it was still not the best presentation she has done at an awards show. Grade: B

Ludacris, Chris Brown, and Swizz Beatz Р Finally, some hip-hop! Granted, it was not the best hip-hop ever on the AMAs by any means. Grade: C

PSY – We all knew “Gangnam Style” would be a fun way to close the show, but somehow, having MC Hammer present there was the icing on the very ridiculous cake. What a way to close out the night! Grade: A-

Once again, you can check out a full list of winners for the show here.

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