(Mary J Blige performs at the 2011 American Music Awards)
By Tamara Palmer
Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and Ludacris all made early appearances during the American Music Awards on Sunday night (November 20), but there were still plenty of performances left to go, when they deserted the stage. Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Lil Jon, Marc Anthony, Mary J. Blige and Drake all followed up with attention-grabbing sets.
Mary J. Blige
While a few singers faltered with their vocals on Sunday night, an elegant Mary J. Blige (wearing a chic tailored white suit) gave the standout vocal performance of the night with “Mr. Wrong” from her forthcoming album My Life II: The Journey Continues, due out on November 21. As the song ended, a picture of the recently departed Heavy D appeared on the screen behind her. “Rest in peace to my dear friend, my loved one, my brother: the lovable and great Heavy D,” Mary said, her eyes swelling with emotion. “I miss you so much, brother.”
After Jennifer Lopez offered a few moments of her single “Papi” (literally set to an product placement for a car), Pitbull popped up to offer his brief verse to “On The Floor,” spending most of his few bars grinding up against Lopez’s famed posterior. Lopez later collected an award for Favorite Latin Artist (over Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias), insisting that she didn’t expect to win. “It’s been an amazing year in so many ways, just up and down,” she said. “I’m grateful for all my blessings.”
Pitbull featuring Lil Jon
As Pitbull’s hit single “Tonight” began to play, the Miami rapper’s longtime collaborator Lil Jon assumed the familiar role of hype man, imploring the audience, “Can we get a little crazier than this tonight?” He introduced Pitbull and Marc Anthony to perform “Rain Over Me” alongside a bevy of female dancers. It was a bit of an ironic moment, considering that Pit had appeared onstage with Lopez only a few moments earlier.
Drake was the final hip-hop act of the night, performing the hit single “Headlines,” from his sophomore album Take Care. The Young Money rapper was decked out in all black with a pair of bedazzled gloves for some extra shine. He was introduced by Lionel Richie before taking the stage and fellow YMCMB rapper Nicki Minaj mouthed all the words to the song from the audience.