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AMAs 2011: Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Band Perry are first up

November 20, 2011 |  5:41 pm

Pop & Hiss will be posting live throughout the night.

The 2011 American Music Awards opened with a pairing of international superstar DJ David Guetta and the supersonic vocal stylings of Nicki Minaj. The evening is a slightly pared award show, because some of the biggest names in pop are not set to perform, including Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Adele, although the latter is nursing sore vocal cords. 

Guetta, grinning wider than any Jim Henson creation, did his best to set a level of high-energy Minaj. The set was a sort of giant, "Transformer"-like speaker, and Minaj made sure to make one strut around the stage to show the crowd that she did indeed have speakers on her buttocks. Whether they were working speakers, however, is a question that will have to be left for the hard-hitting award-show press corps. 

The two performed a medley of hits such as "Turn Me On" and "Super Bass." For the latter, cameras cut to Swift and GOB (Girlfriend-of-Bieber) Selena Gomez singing along. Minaj performed in front of what looked to be a giant plasma ball, and backup dancers draped her flexible, rubber-tube covered Christmas lights. 

The second performance of the night was Justin Bieber, performing his throw-away Christmas song "Mistletoe," which is just the perfect amount of tame and innocent to sound fine when it's playing in grocery stores this holiday season. In his astronaut-white get-up, Bieber seemed to want to break out dance moves, but the Island-slow beat of this song is designed for the pace of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float. 

Immediately ater, fast-rising country stars the Band Perry peformed its midtempo "If I Die Young." Leader Kimberly Perry has take-me-serious chops, and the downer of a song — "Life ain't always what you think it out to be" —- didn't get the show off to a rousing start but captured the view of a generation that's facing economic decline and limited opportunities. 

Meanwhile, the AMAs were quick to hand out a pair of fan-voted awards early. Maroon 5 was named favorite band/duo or group, while Swift was named favorite female country artist. 


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— Todd Martens

Photo: Nicki Minaj (on top) and DJ David Guetta perform during the show. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press.