AMA Preview: They Won For What?!!
Let's stipulate that it's not easy to put music into categories. Even so, the AMAs have had some real doozies over the years. Donny & Marie Osmond once won for Favorite Country Duo/Group (well, Marie is "a little bit country" after all!). P!nk was nominated for Favorite New Artist in Soul/R&B (everybody likes P!nk, but that's a stretch). Alternative rock titans Pearl Jam and Nirvana both won for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. The pop creation Milli Vanilli won for Favorite New Artist in Soul/R&B.
Let's try to unravel these perplexing outcomes, and then look at how the AMAs has evolved over the years. This year's show airs Nov. 24 on ABC.
Donny & Marie's 1974 pop hit "I'm Leaving It (All) Up To You" had been a top 20 country hit. In 1975, their version of Eddy Arnold's "Make The World Go Away" had climbed to #71 on the country chart. And Marie had had a few Top 40 country hits on her own—and would go on to have many more. Even so, their win on the 1976 show is hard to fathom. Donny & Marie interrupted what would have been a four-year lock on the award by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, who were more than "a little bit country."
P!nk's 2000 hit "There You Go," with Kandi on a backing vocal, was a top 15 R&B hit. Her follow-up, "Most Girls," also made the R&B chart. Still, P!nk has always been primarily a pop star. (Oddly, she wasn't nominated for Favorite New Artist in Pop/Rock in 2001.)
Milli Vanilli won for Favorite New Artist in both Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B in 1990. They are viewed today as a fabricated pop act, but at the time, R&B radio was also on board. "Girl You Know It's True" and "Baby Don't Forget My Number" both made the top 10 on the R&B chart. "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" and "Blame It On The Rain" both made the R&B top 20.
Alternative rock titans Nirvana and Pearl Jam took the award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist in 1995 and 1996, respectively—even though the show had an Alternative category by that point. Oddly, Nirvana wasn't even nominated for Favorite Alternative Artist in 1995. (Pearl Jam doubled up and also took the award for Favorite Alternative Artist in 1996.)