AMA Awards Preview

Back in 1974, Dick Clark decided the American public needed another awards show, specifically one that let the people choose their favorite musicians and records.

After all, the prestigious Grammy Awards were chosen by a panel of industry types. (You know, folks who get records for free.) So, ever the opportunist, Clark called his little show The American Music Awards, and he put them on ABC a few weeks before the Grammys.

Don’t be fooled by the name. The artists nominated are not necessarily American, but they are chosen by residents of the red, white and blue. How patriotic!

Tonight, the 28th annual American Music Awards will be handed out live at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on the Dick Clark network, ABC.

Hosting this year’s AMAs is everybody’s favorite pop tart, Britney Spears. At just 19 years old, Spears will be the youngest hostess of the show since Debbie Gibson did the honors back in 1989. Debbie Gibson? Sorry, she’s Deborah now and a serious actress. (In other words, no career.) Britney may meet the same fate 10 years from now, but hey, Behind The Music is ready and waiting.

Will the Cowboy Crowd Embrace Crossover Faith? Three types of music are in the spotlight at the AMAs — Pop/Rock, Soul/R&B and Country. Each of those categories has five award groups — Favorite Male Artist; Favorite Female Artist; Favorite Band, Duo, or Group; Favorite Album and Favorite New Artist.

Four other music types: Rap/Hip-Hop; Alternative; Adult Contemporary and Latin only get a Favorite Artist award. Rounding things out are Favorite Soundtrack and an Internet vote for Internet Artist Of The Year.

Go to to click your vote for that one. As you can see, there are a lot fewer categories at the AMAs than at the Grammys.

The big nominee this year is Faith Hill. She’s up for four American Music Awards, including Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist. Though she’s become wildly popular on a nationwide scale as a mainstream artist, Faith has alienated a lot of her core fans, the ones that embraced her as a country artist.

Now that she’s crossed over into Barry Manilow land, the cowboy-hat-and-boots crowd are mightily peeved. Get over it, Jethro, Shania Twain left the ranch because there’s way more money and fame in soccer mom town. OK, Latino artist Marc Anthony is also up for an Adult Contemporary statue, but his core doesn’t seem to mind.

Pearl Jam wannabes Creed have three nominations, and Britney, our hostess with the mostest, is up for two. By the way, Britney’s people haven’t decided if she will perform on the show, or just present.

Aerosmith vs. Dick Clark

Another innovation by Dick Clark, the Award Of Merit, is given to that performer who went the extra mile in their career. The very first winner was Bing Crosby, back on the debut AMA telecast in 1974, and past winners have included Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra. This year is no different. The 2001 Award Of Merit will be given to Janet Jackson for her many contributions to music, dance, video and nasty boys.

Then there’s an interesting situation involving Aerosmith. The band was originally slated to receive something called the “Award Of Achievement” at this year’s AMAs for their “rare and distinguished accomplishments.” Three weeks ago, word came down that Aerosmith didn’t like the name of the award and asked Dick Clark to change it. Dick said no, so the band threatened to not do the show at all.

In addition to getting the award in question, Aerosmith was also scheduled to perform their new single, “Jaded” on the show. Reportedly, Dick Clark told anyone who would listen that Aerosmith was off the show because it’s his show and no one can tell him what to do, or what to call an award.

A visit to the official Dick Clark Production Web site reveals that Aerosmith is now getting something called the “International Artist Award,” and they will be performing their new single on the live telecast. Perhaps you can tell Dick Clark what to do … if you’re Aerosmith.

All of this year’s presenters have a major reason to show up. No, it’s not for the national TV exposure, it’s the goodie bag they get just for being them. Every presenter gets a duffel bag full of loot valued at $3,500 each. They were put together by The Hollywood Connection and contain such items as a three-in-one digital camera-camcorder and PC camera, two skypagers, a cell phone, sneakers, a voice-activated TV remote and other things that only the celebrities that get them could actually afford. It’s tough being a celebrity.