Green Day led a furious chant against President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday at the American Music Awards, where Ariana Grande proved her superstar status by taking the top prize.
On a stage full of pyrotechnics, Green Day turned the punk rockers’ recent song “Bang Bang” into an anti-Trump anthem at the awards ceremony broadcast live on US television.
“No Trump! No KKK! No Fascist USA!” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong shouted repeatedly, to smiles from the star-studded audience in Los Angeles and quick commentary on social media.
Green Day, who led a revival of punk rock in the early 1990s, repeatedly denounced Trump during the election campaign in which the Republican ran on staunch criticism of immigrants.
The American Music Awards are based on voting by fans, unlike the more prestigious Grammys, which will take place on February 12 and are determined by a poll of music industry figures.
Ariana Grande, the former child actress who has become one of pop music’s leading stars with the success of her latest album “Dangerous Woman,” won the top award of Artist of the Year.
The 23-year-old teamed up with rapper Nicki Minaj for the steamiest moment of the evening.
They performed their collaboration “Side to Side” on a jungle-themed stage as topless male dancers rubbed against them, with Minaj opening her own legs and sliding a finger in between.
Chart-topping rapper Drake was up for a record 13 awards on Sunday. He wound up winning four, dominating the rap categories.
– Different ways to address election –
Sting, presented with a lifetime achievement award, performed a medley from Police classics “Message in a Bottle” and “Every Breath You Take” to a song off his new album.
The “Englishman in New York” made what may have been a veiled reference to the political climate as he described rock ‘n’ roll as “perhaps America’s greatest and most influential export.”
Rock music has been “always open to all colors in the spirit of welcome and inclusion,” Sting said.
“A mixing of culture, of rhythm and passion is what made this country the greatest country in the world.”
John Legend and Lady Gaga, two US artists outspoken in the denunciations of Trump, steered clear of politics as they performed new singles.
But award co-hosts Jay Pharoah — a comedian from “Saturday Night Live,” the television comedy show that has upset Trump — and model Gigi Hadid made multiple cracks on the president-elect.
Pharoah said Trump must have enjoyed performer Bruno Mars, the Hawaiian-born star whose heritage includes Puerto Rican and Filipino roots.
“‘I love Bruno Mars. I don’t know what color he is, so I can’t deport him,’” Pharoah said, imitating Trump’s booming voice.
– Inspirational talk from Gomez –
One of the most heartfelt speeches came from Selena Gomez, who won Favorite Female Artist.
Her appearance marked her public return after halting her tour in August, saying she needed to care for depression and anxiety that were side effects of lupus.
“I had to stop because I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside,” Gomez said as she fought back tears.
“I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she said with her hand on her heart.
Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson also became emotional as she accepted the soundtrack award for the pop icon’s landmark 1984 album “Purple Rain” — which was again eligible as it returned to the charts following his death in April.
“Prince defied the odds. A black teen from Minneapolis with a goal to electrify the world, he had the courage to be different,” she said.
Best New Artist went to Zayn Malik, whose former group One Direction won Artist of the Year for the last two years — and whose onetime bandmate Niall Horan performed separately.
“Wow, this one just has my name on it, right?” Malik quipped as he inspected the award.