Associated Press-Taylor Swift tied Michael Jackson’s record at the American Music Awards as she collected her 24th win and used her speech to thank her record label for allowing her to freely express herself as an artist.
Her remarks Sunday came amid a public battle between Swift and the men who own the master recordings of much of her music.
Swift won favorite pop/rock album for “Lover,” her first release on Universal Music Group’s Republic Records. She released her first six albums on Big Machine Label Group, founded by Scott Borchetta, who owns Swift’s master recordings along with music manager Scooter Braun.
“This album really felt like a new beginning, and I also really love my record label, Universal and Republic. Monte Lipman, Lucian Grainge, thank you for being so generous to me and allowing me to make whatever music I want to make,” she said onstage. “As a songwriter it’s so thrilling to me that I get to keep doing that.”
Later in the show Swift took the stage to sing a medley of her hits — a performance Swift said in a Nov. 15 social media post was put in jeopardy by Borchetta and Braun — as she collected the artist of the decade award.
Selena Gomez, Kesha, Ella Mai and Swift’s parents were among the audience members who sang and danced along while the pop star performed a number of her hits, including “Blank Space,” “Love Story,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Shake It Off,” where she was joined by Halsey and Camila Cabello. Swift played the piano as she closed the performance with “Lover,” as ballet dancers Misty Copeland and Craig Hall performed in the background.
After the performance Swift thanked Carole King, who presented her the award.
Eilish, who won new artist of the year and favorite alternative artist, took the stage — surrounded by fire — to perform her song, “All the Good Girls Go to Hell.” Lizzo screamed at the top of her lungs while performing the ballad “Jerome,” one of several songs from her album that earned her a Grammy nomination (she’s the top contender with eight).
Shawn Mendes and Cabello stood close together as they performed “Senorita,” staring in each other’s eyes as they sang from one microphone at times. They even rubbed noses at the end.
The pair won collaboration of the year for “Senorita.” Other winners included top nominee Post Malone, who won favorite rap/hip-hip album for “Hollywood’s Bleeding” and Carrie Underwood, who was appropriately teary-eyed as she took home favorite country album for “Cry Pretty.”
Selena Gomez kicked off the AMAs as Swift and Halsey got out of their seats to cheer their pal on.
Gomez, sounding pitchy at times, performed her No. 1 hit “Lose You to Love Me,” and stripped down from her dress to a shiny bodysuit to finish the performance with the upbeat song “Look at Her Now,” as audience members, including country singer Kelsea Ballerini, sang along.
R&B singer Ciara, who is hosting the show airing live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, performed after Gomez.
Swift, who is nominated for five awards, has a chance of surpassing the King of Pop’s record. She is also nominated for the top prize — artist of the year — along with Grande, Drake, Halsey and Malone.