It took a little longer than usual Sunday night, but in the end Taylor Swift's magical run continued as she took five American Music Awards, including the prestigious Artist of the Year honor.
While the show's focus was clearly on performances, particularly those by artists with new releases coming out in the next two weeks (Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert), Swift was clearly the evening's big story as her victories covered multiple categories.
Her disc Fearless was selected favorite country album, while she also was tabbed Favorite pop/rock and country female and even Favorite adult/contemporary artist. Swift topped all performers in nominations (six) and victories (five), and received her awards via satellite from backstage at London's Wembley Arena, the site of her Monday concert.
"I really want to thank the fans so much for their support," Swift said at one point. "It means so much to me." Another time she cited Michael Jackson (who won four awards), commenting that he's missed so much and also thanked Janet Jackson for reaching out to her and being so supportive of her performances.
Jackson did capture favorite male pop/rock and soul/R&B singers, while his 2003 disc Number Ones was picked as favorite soul/R&B and pop/rock album.
His brother Jermaine twice accepted awards on his behalf, at one point taking time to mention each of his brothers and sisters by name. "The message that Michael had will live on forever," he said. "He saw good in everyone and he wanted everyone to do good. He always started with love." He also wore a glittering white glove on stage.
Perhaps the night's other big surprise from a Nashville perspective was Gloriana's upset victory in the Breakthrough Artist of the Year category. Most observers thought Lady Gaga was a lock for the honor, and her eye-catching performance segment, complete with a microphone glass-shattering, piano catching fire bit, was indicative of her visual flair.
Rascal Flatts won their fourth AMA award as Favorite Country Group or Duo, and Keith Urban won his first as Favorite Country Male Performer, capping off a live set that was among the most favorably received of the entire evening.
Unlike Grammy, Oscar or Emmy awards, American Music Awards are not tied to a time frame. The nominees are determined by radio airplay and retail sales, and winners selected through online fan voting.
Still, it was clear that the emphasis throughout the night was on live performances, with other noteworthy moments coming from the duo of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, Rihanna, Shakira (backed by 12 dancers), Kelly Clarkson (accompanied by a string quartet) and Adam Lambert, who was given the finale spot following Swift's victory.
Still, from a historical perspective, the 2009 American Music Awards will ultimately be remembered as perhaps the final acknowledgement that Taylor Swift has enjoyed one of the most phenomenal years in modern music history.