Sunday, November 21, 2010

American Music Awards: Just 20+ years ago


Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Prince were just some of the marquee names of the annual American Music Awards show more than 20 years ago.

I was just a kid watching those larger-than-life stars perform and accept armfuls of the pyramid-shaped crystal trophies. It was a big day - that is until the Grammy's rolled around about a month later.

For the AMAs shows that I didn't see live on TV, I just watched VHS tapes that my uncle had neatly organized in the basement. I couldn't wait for the results of those award shows. The results of the AMAs were always usually more satisfying than the Grammy's.

With the 38th AMAs airing tonight, I decided to share some pretty memorable moments.

Diana Ross opened the 1986 show, which she also elegantly hosted, with a performance of the Michael Jackson penned, "Eaten Alive." This year, we'll be treated to Rihanna, who will open the show.


Lionel Richie hosted the 1985 show during a time when there were "Favorite Black..." categories. How awkward does that look and sound to us 25 years later?? The nominees for "Favorite Black Single" were "Caribbean Queen," Billy Ocean; "What's Love Got to Do With It," Tina Turner; and "When Doves Cry," Prince.


In the same show, Huey Lewis and Madonna presented the award for "Favorite Black Album" - the nominees: "Can't Slow Down," Lionel Richie; "Purple Rain," Prince; and "Thriller" by Michael Jackson.

But the BEST PART of the show was that the same THREE black albums were nominated for the "big award of the night" - - "Favorite Pop Album."

And it was the purple one who would scoop up all three awards that night. That year would also mark the end of the "Favorite Black..." categories. The next year, those categories were changed to "Favorite Soul/R&B..." That's better.

Prince closed the 1985 show with these words: "For all of us, life is death without adventure. And adventure only comes to those who are willing to be daring and take chances."

Another interesting clip, came during the 1984 AMAs. Michael Jackson won the "Favorite Pop Album" award for "Thriller." So the same album was nominated for the same category two years in a row?? (1984 & 1985 - Wow. Weird. Wouldn't happen today.) MJ has holds the AMA record, winning 26 trophies, including eight in 1984.



And you can't talk about the old days of the AMAs without mentioning Whitney Houston. She's won 22 AMAs - the most for any female artist. She won eight in 1994, and a total of seven between 1986 and 1987.

In January 1986, she accepted her first AMA and delivered a top-notch vocal performance of "How Will I Know."


In 1990, it was a showdown between the student and the teacher. Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson, both at big moments in their respective careers, performed separately on the show. Abdul was previously known for her work as a choreographer during Janet's breakthrough. But Abdul decided to step out with her own singing career (although she's known more for her dancing). At the AMAs, she put on a quite a dancing clinic with her big 1989 hit, "The Way That You Love Me." She easily outperformed Janet's "Escapade," but we all know who would go on to have a bigger music career. So I guess this "showdown" didn't mean much in the long run...

1 comment:

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