HOLLYWOOD—I always tell people you know when Thanksgiving is close when the American Music Awards takes place. Big winners of the night included: Bruno Mars, Keith Urban and Shawn Mendes.

The 2017 ceremony kicked off at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles with an opening act that will be chatted about for years to come. Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx gave a rousing speech paying tribute to the first responders who risked their lives to save lives in the midst of utter tragedy. Performers Pink! And Kelly Clarkson kicked off the musical event with a powerful performance showcasing that powerful voices can without a doubt deliver music that moves the soul.

I have to admit it’s great to see the original “American Idol” winner return to the stage; it seems like eons since we’ve last seen her. Those ladies sure can sing! Well I was a bit surprised to discover the master of ceremonies was none other than Tracee Ellis Ross, the daughter of music legend Diana Ross who was slated to hit the stage later in the show to perform some of her greatest hits. Ross is a bit funnier than I ever expected; she might have a knack for comedy that many people never expected. It was a night of empowerment as Demi Lovato took to the stage to sing her catchy tune “Sorry Not Sorry.” Man, I really need to put that tune on the iPod, it’s a club banger. The first award of the night for Pop/Rock Duo or Group was given to Imagine Dragons. Nick Jonas later took the stage to perform his hit “Where To Find You,” which I thought was a bit lackluster in terms of energy.

The AMA for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Song was a victory for DJ Khaled for “I’m the One,” even though I honestly think Kendrick Lamar should have won the prize, but I keep forgetting this is a ceremony that is based on popularity, not actual critical acclaim. Shawn Mendes performed his inescapable hit “There is Nothing Holding Me Back,” which I would almost argue is one of the standout hits of 2017.

I guess the big performance of the night was to be the return of Selena Gomez to the stage to perform her newest single “Wolves,” however it was more of a theatrical performance versus showcasing her actual vocal talent. Keith Urban won the American Music Award for Favorite Country Male Artist.

Now this was the moment I was waiting for: Christina Aguilera taking to the stage to pay tribute to one of the best-selling albums of all-time, “The Bodyguard.” The fact that she sang Whitney Houston’s iconic hit, “I Will Always Love You” solely on acoustics to start was amazing. However, things got a bit shaky in my opinion as she attempted to hit those high notes that very few in the singing arena can reach. Aguilera was better suited for the Houston hit, “I Have Nothing.” That later transition to Christina singing another of Whitney’s biggest hits “I’m Every Woman,” before receiving a standing ovation from the audience. The AMA for Adult Contemporary was a win for Canadian Shawn Mendes, who has had a stellar year.

Lady Gaga proved she is the lady of theatrics when it comes to performing as she broadcast her performance live from her Joanne tour in Washington D.C. About 90 minutes into the show, things really started to slow down in my opinion people. Now this has to be the one song that every time I hear it, it stays in my head for days, Alessia Cara’s “Stay.” It is a beautiful ballad that is powerful, catchy and proves that with the right vocals a song can stir emotions inside of you that you never imagined. Lady Gaga got a bit of love with an AMA win for Favorite Pop/Rock Female and gave an emotional acceptance speech from D.C.

Imagine Dragons rocked the stage alongside Khalid to perform their ubiquitous hit “Thunder.” Pink took the notion of performing to new heights literally as she dangled from the side of the J.W. Marriott building. I mean she has done acrobatics before, but this is just utterly crazy America. I don’t think I was ever that terrified to watch a performance on the small screen. Not just the fact that Pink! moved her body without any fear, but her vocals were just as sharp thousands of feet in the air. Hands down one of the best performances of the night, perhaps the year America!

It is indeed one of the most popular songs of 2017, “Despicito” and it proved it winning the American Music Award for Collaboration of the Year. The award for Favorite Alternative Rock Band was a win for “Linkin Park” which was an emotional moment is members from the group took to the stage to accept the award while paying tribute to the late-great Chester Pennington. Kelly Clarkson returned to the stage to belt out her hits “Miss Independent” and “Love So Soft.” Wow, that woman can sang, yes, you heard me, SANG!

Looks like the 2017 American Music Awards wanted to end the ceremony with a bang, by handing out the Artist of the Year award a bit early, crowning Bruno Mars, who was unable to attend the ceremony with the ultimate prize. Yes, that seems like the plan all along, as the shindig ended with delivering the great Diana Ross the Lifetime Achievement Award, just as she performed a string of her iconic hits. After watching clips of Ross’ life, the icon hit the stage in a purple outfit singing hits like “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me Higher,” “Ease On Down the Road,” “The Best Years of My Life,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and so many other classics that haven’t been heard in forever.

The 2017 American Music Awards had high moments and low moments, I just wish there were even bigger names hit the stage to perform to really bring the house down, maybe 2018 will be the year that the AMA can compete with the Grammy Awards!

Written By Kelsey Thomas