The American Music Awards 2020 are set to take place this Sunday, and despite living in an unprecedented pandemic, the biggest names in music are ready for a wild night.
The show will take place on November 22 from Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater. And while the venue will not have its seats filled the traditional way, host Taraji P. Henson told Billboard that there will still be a "very innovative way of bringing in a live audience."
Whether the new format is a success or bust, it's certainly going to be a history maker. The American Music Awards was the brainchild of Dick Clark back in 1973, invented as an alternative to the Grammys. Certain elements have changed over the years—for instance, winners used to be determined by industry insiders; as of 2006, they're picked by an online poll open to the public. And from 2009-2012, the show went on without a host. Different award categories have also come and gone over the years.
But the one constant was that the event was always hosted in a packed house. Find out what to expect at this year's ceremony, and how COVID-19 will affect the show.
To watch the 2020 AMAs live, tune in to ABC on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. You can also watch ABC online at ABC.com/watch-live with a TV provider login. Those with live TV streaming services can opt to watch the show via Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now, and YouTube TV.
The 2020 AMAs will present awards for 32 categories.
New Artist of the Year is a race between six up-and-comers, from hip hop queen in the making Megan Thee Stallion to Scottish soul singer Lewis Capaldi. Favorite Song (Pop/Rock) includes Dua Lipa's "Don't Start Now"—a classic club anthem—and Post Malone moody but undeniably catchy "Circles."
The Favorite Music Video category gives a nod to seven artists between five nominations. Two are collaborations: Future featuring Drake for "Life is Good", and Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for "Rain on Me". Taylor Swift's "cardigan", The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights", and Doja Cat's "Say So" are also in the running.
As for final tallies, The Weeknd and Roddy Ricch boast the most nominations (eight each) of the year. Megan Thee Stallion is right behind them with five nominations of her own. Finally, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Bad Bunny, and DaBaby earned four nominations each.
The 2020 AMAs are promising a star-studded line-up of can't-miss performances. Ten years since she took the stage to sing "Firework," five-time AMA winner Katy Perry will return with a world premiere performance of "Only Love." The Weeknd is expected to deliver "his biggest and wildest performance to date"—a rendition of "In Your Eyes" featuring Kenny G, and the world television premiere of "Save Your Tears."
Bebe Rexha will join multi-nominee Doja Cat for a collaboration described by AMA sources as "funky and fierce." Jennifer Lopez and Maluma will also perform a medley together. And 15-time AMA winner Justin Bieber will deliver a multi-song performance that includes his latest hits, "Holy" and "Lonely." It will mark the first time he's been on the AMA stage since 2016. Other artists on the line-up include Dan + Shay, Machine Gun Kelly, and Lewis Capaldi.
And for the sake of a throwback, expect medleys from Bell Biv Devoe and Nelly.
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will play a huge part at the 2020 AMAs. Over the weekend, Deadline reported that a few crew members working on pre-production tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing was initiated, and those who were directly impacted were ordered to quarantine and drop their participation in the show.
At the time, more than 700 tests have been administered on performers and crew working on the AMAs; a source said that the four people who tested positive were wearing masks when they worked.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Dick Clark Productions provided further details about their testing protocols to Vulture. “The safety of all our productions and everyone involved is our No. 1 priority,” they said. "We have conducted approximately 1,200 tests during our onboarding and production process with less than .04 percent positive results, including those who did not report for their first day or were never inside the venue."
There's no definitive word on how things will play out. Perhaps the production will take a cue from the CMT Awards and minimize risks by relying on some remote and pre-taped performances. (One event we're not hoping to see a repeat of? Last month's Country Music Awards, where performers began testing positive days before the big show.)
Tune in on Sunday to see how it all goes down.