More and more, it seems like the primary objective of musical award shows is to out-weird one another, and Sunday's American Music Awards was no exception. So what is the point of the AMAs? To award artists according to the data of music buyers, rather than the whims of the stuffy Grammy academy, officially anyway. But really the show was just another opportunity for today's biggest pop stars to trot out their fall album releases. Here's who made a splash:
Katy Perry's Orientalist Geisha Show
While no one would ever expect Katy Perry to be subtle, her show opening performance of "Unconditionally" really left no Bonzai garden stone unturned. She donned a tight-fitting kimono, waved around an oil paper umbrella and struck many a Geisha girl pose that was pretty much a lesson in Orientalism for the 21st century. Was it racist or just over the top?
Awards Envelopes in the Form of Samsung Galaxy Phones
This product placement thing has gone too far.
Macklemore's Trayvon Martin Shout Out
Macklemore has long been an advocate of same-sex marriage. But when accepting the award for favorite rap/hip-hop album with musical partner Ryan Lewis via livestream from their concert in Miami, Macklemore extended his political platform to address issues of race in contemporary America. "Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it," the rapper said. "This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers and our fans, and it's time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it."
Bill Maher Presents Rihanna With the AMA Icon Award
Bill Maher -- the comedian known for his political talk show "Real Time With Bill Maher," his disdain for religion and suggesting one-time Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell believed in witchcraft -- was tapped to present Rihanna with the AMA Icon Award, a first-ever recognition the AMAs decided to bestow on the pop star at the wise old age of 25. How did we get here, universe? No matter -- Rihanna's mom joined them onstage and her speech was quite touching, even if Maher looked bored through it.
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly Impersonate Marilyn Monroe and The President
The 50th anniversary of President John Kennedy's death was Friday, so this performance of "Do What U Want" felt a little ill-timed. To be fair, R. Kelly also nodded to President Bill Clinton's presidential sex scandal legacy -- cigar and all-- and even made an Instagram joke. But Gaga really had the Marilyn Monroe thing going with the red lipstick, blonde bombshell hairdo and a sparkly white dress.
All Those Throwback Performances
The AMAs brought back to life some of the best and brightest pop acts of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and no one is mad about it. TLC reunited to sing "Water Falls," bringing in Lil' Mama to sing the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez's part (Lil' Mama also played Lopez in the recent TLC biopic). After singing his part on Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," Nelly launched into a full-throated rendition of his 2000 hit "Ride Wit Me." And while Jennifer Lopez technically hasn't gone anywhere, her tribute to the Latino music legend Celia Cruz felt like a blast from the past -- both in the music she was performing and the impressive vigor with which she performed it.
Miley Cyrus Trolls the Internet
Let there be no doubt: Miley Cyrus knows exactly what she's doing. In 2013, the pop album tour has become a months-long slog of igniting buzz and backlash on the Internet, and no one does it better than Miley, as evidenced by Sunday's rendition of "Wrecking Ball." What does the Internet love more than anything else? Cats. So what does Miley give the Internet? A giant, lip-synching, virtual cat to back up her performance, tongue and all.