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Why was The Weeknd covered in bandages at the AMAs?

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

Published
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Weeknd won three awards, including best R&B album, for After Hours

R&B star The Weeknd won three prizes at Sunday's American Music Awards - with his face covered in bandages.

The Canadian star, who was named best soul artist, made no reference to his unusual appearance, which prompted concern from some viewers.

It came after he took to the stage with a bloodied face at the MTV VMAs earlier this year.

However, the make-up and bandages are part of an anti drink-driving message he has been promoting in his new music.

Speaking to Esquire earlier this year, the singer explained that his hit single Blinding Lights is about "how you want to see someone at night, and you're intoxicated, and you're driving to this person and you're just blinded by streetlights.

"I don't want to ever promote drunk driving, but that's what the dark undertone is."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe star also performed In Your Eyes and Save Your Tears, with a cameo from saxophonist Kenny G

The star, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, thanked Prince as he picked up the prize for best R&B album at Sunday night's ceremony.

"Last time I received this award, it was given to me by the late great Prince," he said.

"And you know, he's the reason I get to constantly challenge the genre of R&B, and I'd like to dedicate this award to him. Thank you."

Swift interrupts recording session

Elsewhere at the ceremony, Taylor Swift was named artist of the year for a record-extending sixth time.

Accepting the prize via satellite, the star confirmed she was re-recording her old music, in the midst of a very public feud over the ownership of her master tapes.

image copyrightAMAs
image captionSwift has now won 32 American Music Awards, more than any other artist in history

"This is a fan voted award, which means so much to me," said Swift. "You guys have been beyond wonderful. All the years of my career, but especially this one, when we've been so far apart, we haven't been able to see each other in concert, but I still feel connected to you.

"I'm actually re-recording all of my old music in the studio where we originally recorded it," she added. "I can't wait for you to hear it."

Swift won two further prizes: best music video for Cardigan and favourite female pop/rock artist - taking her all-time tally to 32, more than any other artist in the ceremony's history.

Show-stopping performances

The awards show took place in front of a limited audience "in small groups, from the same families".

Host Taraji P Henson said the guests "had been tested for Covid-19". The small crowd, all wearing masks, were seen applauding and cheering from the balcony of the Microsoft Theatre throughout the show.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionTaraji P Henson posed with cardboard cut-out celebrities in the auditorium

They were treated to performances by Megan Thee Stallion, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Nelly, who performed a medley of hits from his debut album Country Grammar, marking its 20th anniversary.

Billie Eilish was bathed in red for the live debut of her new single, Therefore I Am, while Katy Perry and Darius Rucker delivered a heartfelt rendition of the ballad Only Love.

And Jennifer Lopez and Maluma gave a preview of the chemistry they're bringing to the big screen in the 2021 rom-com Marry Me, with a smouldering performance of their collaborative singles Pa' Ti and Lonely - which ended with Lopez performing a Flashdance-esque chair routine.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionJennifer Lopez delivered some pin-sharp choreography during her performance

Not all the performances took place in LA: Dua Lipa danced her way through the hit single Levitating from London's Royal Albert Hall, flying into the air amidst a glitter snowstorm as the song reached its climax.

And BTS beamed in from an empty stadium in Seoul, singing Life Goes On and Dynamite while fireworks exploded around them.

The Korean band also picked up best group and favourite social artist at the ceremony.

Other notable winners included former One Direction star Harry Styles, who won his first solo AMA award - best pop/rock album for last year's Fine Line.

Rapper Juice Wrld was posthumously named best male hip-hop artist, while Dua Lipa won best pop song for Don't Start Now.

Country duo Dan & Shay and pop star Justin Bieber both won three prizes each - sharing two for their duet 10,000 Hours.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDua Lipa flew into the air during her performance of Levitating
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionBTS dressed in pastels for their performance

After winning favourite Latin female artist, Becky G gave one of the night's most emotional speeches, telling a story about her Mexican immigrant grandfather, and dedicating her win to immigrant workers and immigrant families.

"I proudly wave both flags - Mexican and American," she said. "Like many, many children and grandchildren of immigrants, no matter where they're from, we have learned from the ones before us what sacrifice and hard work looks like.

"I dedicate this award to all of our immigrant workers in this pandemic and the students and immigrant families. It's because of my family that I stand here today."

Full list of winners

Artist Of The Year

  • Taylor Swift (WINNER)
  • Justin Bieber
  • Post Malone
  • Roddy Ricch
  • The Weeknd

New Artist Of The Year

  • Doja Cat (WINNER)
  • Lewis Capaldi
  • DaBaby
  • Lil Baby
  • Roddy Ricch
  • Megan Thee Stallion

Collaboration Of The Year

  • Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber - 10,000 Hours (WINNER)
  • Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion - WAP
  • DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch - Rockstar
  • Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande - Rain On Me
  • Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé - Savage Remix

Favourite Social Artist

  • BTS (WINNER)
  • Billie Eilish
  • EXO
  • Ariana Grande
  • NCT 127

Favourite Music Video

  • Taylor Swift - cardigan (WINNER)
  • Doja Cat - Say So
  • Future ft. Drake - Life Is Good
  • Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande - Rain On Me
  • The Weeknd - Blinding Lights

Favourite Male Artist - Pop/Rock

  • Justin Bieber (WINNER)
  • Post Malone
  • The Weeknd

Favourite Female Artist - Pop/Rock

  • Taylor Swift (WINNER)
  • Dua Lipa
  • Lady Gaga
image copyrightGetty Images
image caption24kGoldn with Iann Dior gave a colourful performance of their number one single, Mood

Favourite Duo Or Group - Pop/Rock

  • BTS (WINNER)
  • Jonas Brothers
  • Maroon 5

Favourite Album - Pop/Rock

  • Harry Styles - Fine Line (WINNER)
  • Taylor Swift - folklore
  • The Weeknd - After Hours

Favourite Song - Pop/Rock

  • Dua Lipa - Don't Start Now (WINNER)
  • Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved
  • Post Malone - Circles
  • Roddy Ricch - The Box
  • The Weeknd - Blinding Lights

Favourite Male Artist - Country

  • Kane Brown (WINNER)
  • Luke Combs
  • Morgan Wallen

Favourite Female Artist - Country

  • Maren Morris (WINNER)
  • Gabby Barrett
  • Miranda Lambert

Favourite Duo Or Group - Country

  • Dan + Shay (WINNER)
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Old Dominion

Favourite Album - Country

  • Blake Shelton - Fully Loaded: God's Country (WINNER)
  • Luke Combs - What You See Is What You Get
  • Morgan Wallen - If I Know Me

Favourite Song - Country

  • Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber - 10,000 Hours (WINNER)
  • Maren Morris - The Bones
  • Blake Shelton (Duet with Gwen Stefani) - Nobody But You
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionNelly celebrated the 20th anniversary of Country Grammar

Favourite Male Artist - Rap/Hip-Hop

  • Juice WRLD (WINNER)
  • DaBaby
  • Roddy Ricch

Favourite Female Artist - Rap/Hip-Hop

  • Nicki Minaj (WINNER)
  • Cardi B
  • Megan Thee Stallion

Favourite Album - Rap/Hip-Hop

  • Roddy Ricch - Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial (WINNER)
  • Lil Baby - My Turn
  • Lil Uzi Vert - Eternal Atake

Favourite Song - Rap/Hip-Hop

  • Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion - WAP (WINNER)
  • DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch - Rockstar
  • Roddy Ricch - The Box

Favourite Male Artist - Soul/R&B

  • The Weeknd (WINNER)
  • Chris Brown
  • John Legend

Favourite Female Artist - Soul/R&B

  • Doja Cat (WINNER)
  • Jhene Aiko
  • Summer Walker

Favourite Album - Soul/R&B

  • The Weeknd - After Hours (WINNER)
  • Doja Cat - Hot Pink
  • Summer Walker - Over It

Favourite Song - Soul/R&B

  • The Weeknd - Heartless (WINNER)
  • Chris Brown ft. Drake - No Guidance
  • Summer Walker - Playing Games

Favourite Male Artist - Latin

  • Bad Bunny (WINNER)
  • J Balvin
  • Ozuna

Favourite Female Artist - Latin

  • Becky G (WINNER)
  • Karol G
  • Rosalía

Favourite Album - Latin

  • Bad Bunny - YHLQMDLG (WINNER)
  • Anuel AA - Emmanuel
  • Bad Bunny - Las que no iban a salir

Favourite Song - Latin

  • Karol G & Nicki Minaj - Tusa (WINNER)
  • Bad Bunny - Vete
  • Black Eyed Peas x J Balvin - RITMO (Bad Boys For Life)

Favourite Artist - Alternative Rock

  • Twenty One Pilots (WINNER)
  • Billie Eilish
  • Tame Impala

Favourite Artist - Adult Contemporary

  • Jonas Brothers (WINNER)
  • Lewis Capaldi
  • Maroon 5

Favourite Artist - Contemporary Inspirational

  • Lauren Daigle (WINNER)
  • For King & Country
  • Kanye West

Favourite Artist - Electronic Dance Music

  • Lady Gaga (WINNER)
  • Kygo
  • Marshmello

Favourite Soundtrack

  • Birds of Prey: The Album (WINNER)
  • Frozen II
  • Trolls: World Tour

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Related Topics

  • BTS
  • Taylor Swift
  • Music

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