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'American Music Awards': Three reasons to watch, three reasons to avoid

November 21, 2008 | 11:59 am

The "American Music Awards," the award-show midpoint between the Country Music Assn. Awards and the Grammy nomination announcement, will be held this Sunday, broadcast live for those living on the East Coast. The show is packed with 19 performances, it's open to the public and its website comes complete with a little time-wasting widget to fiddle with (down below).

Airing on a crowded Sunday night -- the AMAs are on opposite a two-hour "24" movie, and this Britney Spears thing -- is it worth tuning in? Here's three reasons to watch, and three reasons to take a pass.

Reasons to watch:

1. Kanye West. The self-proclaimed voice of his generation, West is award-show gold. If he's not winning trophies, he's ranting about losing, and yet still turning in some of the finest live performances on television. See last year's Grammys, when he went all glow-in-the-dark with Daft Punk, or even this year's MTV VMAs, when he revealed the stark minimalism of "Love Lockdown." This weekend, the man has an album to sell, as "808s & Heartbreak" is out Tuesday, so expect the best. And maybe there will be a puppet. There need to be more puppets in pop music.

2. Jimmy Kimmel. When it comes to hosting music awards shows, few do it better than Kimmel. There's no self-importance that the night actually means something (it doesn't), and the comedian/host brings a tossed-off indifference to the whole proceedings. It's quite refreshing. Just look back to last year's AMAs, when Kimmel had to operate without a script due to the writers' strike. He commented that he was drunk, and seemed almost embarrassed for the performances he was introducing.

3. If you want to watch some music stuff on TV ... The AMAs will surely be more fun than the "TRL" finale, as Miley Cyrus will be actually performing as opposed to just making goofy faces in a photo booth. And it's still a week for Spears MTV special,  "Britney: For the Record," which is previewed on Show Tracker, and reveals that Britney is vulnerable, stressed-out and sometimes overworked, so you should buy her new album because she's really not that crazy.


Reasons to skip:

Grammy season is just around the corner: Like in a week and a half. And this year, the Grammy nominees are being announced in a prime time special on CBS, one that features AMA performances like Christina Aguilera and Taylor Swift, although Taylor may also be available for your corporate parties. There's only so much award-show patter one can take in a season.

The AMAs are fan-voted: They also have an award sponsored by a cellphone provider. But what'd we learn last year with the AMAs? By having a show in which fans can vote for winners on the Web, artists like Daughtry and Carrie Underwood, who fans already voted for on another show, tend to make off with trophies.

The super-secret surprise performance, which needs to end now: Watch for two hours and 50 minutes! At the 172 minute mark, there will be a surprise performance! Really! Someone totally unexpected! Oh my! Surprise! People will be talking about it the following day at work! At which point, you can watch the non-sanctioned version on YouTube and save your Sunday night.

Bonus reason to skip: We'll be watching on Pop & Hiss, bringing you reviews of all the performances, and all the scenes from the red carpet.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Kanye at the MTV VMAs, courtesy Associated Press