Show-stoppers, tributes at AMA

Female artists lead performances as male entertainers win big at American Music Awards

Pink, Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera led the female artists dominating the American Music Awards stage on Sunday with powerful performances, despite being edged out by male artists when it came to actual trophies.

Bruno Mars accepted Artist of the Year with a brief but enthusiastic speech recorded in a moving minivan, as he explained he was travelling, and was the night's biggest winner with a total of eight awards.

One Direction member Niall Horan won New Artist of the Year, while Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee won Collaboration of the Year for the catchy Despacito.

But it was the women of pop who delivered the fan-voted Los Angeles-held ceremony's biggest moments.

Pink and Kelly Clarkson sang a cover of R.E.M.'s Everybody Hurts, dedicated to assembled first responders and victims of the recent hurricanes and wildfires that have ravaged parts of the United States.

Pink later performed aerial acrobatics and dangled off the edge of a 54-storey building while singing Beautiful Trauma via a headset.

Lady Gaga, who won Favourite Female Pop/Rock Artist, performed The Cure from the Washington D.C. stop of her tour, playing on a perspex piano and then dancing as sparks rained down on stage.

"Just remember that if you feel different or not understood, don't you dare give up on who you are, fight like hell for what you believe in," she said.

Motown legend Diana Ross received this year's Lifetime Achievement Award, with video tributes from former US president Barack Obama, his wife, Michelle, and Taylor Swift.

Ross performed a medley of her hits, including I'm Coming Out, Take Me Higher and Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

"I feel so humbled by this," Ross said, surrounded by her family on stage.

Actress Viola Davis paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston and the 25th anniversary of the latter's film The Bodyguard as Aguilera belted a medley of hits from it.

Demi Lovato was accompanied by newly elected Virginia legislator Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to win a state legislative seat, while Selena Gomez sang Wolves in her first public performance since her kidney transplant.

In one of the show's most poignant moments, the Favourite Alternative Rock Artist award went to Linkin Park, whose frontman Chester Bennington committed suicide in July.

To a standing ovation, bandmate Mike Shinoda dedicated the prize to Bennington.

"All of you tonight, whether you are a fan or an artist, I want you to take a moment to appreciate what you have got and make Chester proud," he said. -REUTERS/AFP