One Direction, twice
One Direction managed to repeat as artist of the year and also won favourite pop/rock duo or group, in a year in which they saw one member depart.
"This is a testament to how incredible our fans are," Louis Tomlinson said onstage at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Stirring Céline tribute
Céline Dion delivered the emotional highlight of the evening, paying tribute to the victims of the recent Paris attacks by singing Edith Piaf's Hymne à L'Amour in front of a string section and a montage of images of famous Paris sites. The Quebec music icon raised her hand triumphantly in the air at the song's conclusion, a photo of the Eiffel Tower behind her, as some audience members cried.
Jared Leto, who introduced Dion, said his band 30 Seconds to Mars recently performed at the Bataclan, the Paris concert hall where 89 people were killed in the Nov. 13 attack.
"Tonight, we honour the victims of the unimaginable violence that has taken place in Paris and around the world," Leto said. "The entire world matters, and peace is possible."
Toronto's The Weeknd walked away with two awards. Prince presented the first one.
"Make some noise for Prince, ladies and gentlemen," the singer said after picking up favourite soul/R&B album for Beauty Behind the Madness.
The Weeknd, also known as Abel Tesfaye, performed his hit song The Hills during the broadcast.
Justin Bieber, who won best collaboration with Diplo and Skrillex, closed the night in a rain-soaked production piece with a medley of his hits, including Sorry, Where Are U Now and What Do You Mean. Less well-received, at least on social media, was his stylized Nirvana shirt.
Justin Bieber is like "hey, I know Smells like Teen Spirit" *buys Nirvana shirt and wears to the #AMAs to be edgy "— @PurpleMstery
J-Lo does that Hotline Bling
Taylor Swift, who is out of the country shooting a music video, was the top nominee with six. She won song of the year for Blank Space, favourite pop/rock album for 1989 and favourite artist in the adult contemporary category.
Nicki Minaj was also a double winner, taking home favourite rap/hip-hop artist and album. She encouraged her feverish fans to "find their voice."
Host Jennifer Lopez kicked off the AMAs in a dance routine that highlighted some of the year's biggest hits like Where Are U Now, Anaconda, Uptown Funk! and Drake's Hotline Bling.
They Oughta Know
Other performers included Coldplay, Gwen Stefani, 5 Seconds of Summer and Carrie Underwood, who won favourite country female artist.
Demi Lovato performed her own Confident and also got to share mic duties with Alanis Morissette on the Canadian's 1995 smash You Oughta Know.
Gettin' it on
Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth's performance got additional attention after the singers made out onstage after singing their song, Marvin Gaye, which features the lyrics: "Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on."
"I'm still laughing at Charlie and Meghan smooching," Luke Bryan said onstage after winning the award for favourite country male artist.