Justin Bieber is thanking his haters.
The 18-year-old won favorite pop/rock male artist at Sunday’s American Music Awards and gave a shout-out to those who didn’t think he would last on the music scene.
“I want to say this is for all the haters who that I was just here for one or two years. I feel like I’m going to be here for a very long time,” he said, also thanking his mom, manager, family and his “beautiful, beautiful fans.”
Bieber won the night’s first award and is also set to perform at the three-hour show.
Usher kicked off the AMAs with green laser lights beaming onstage as he performed a medley of songs, including “Numb,” ”Climax” and “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” which featured a smoky floor and a number of backup dancers, as Usher jammed in all black, with the exception of his red shoes.
Party girl Ke$ha was glammed up on the red carpet, rocking long, flowy blonde hair and a light pink dress. Nicki Minaj and Christina Aguilera were blonde bombshells, too: Minaj’s hair was busy and full of volume and she sported a neon sleeveless dress. Aguilera wore a blonde bob cut and in purple dress that matched her eye shadow. All three divas were set to perform at Sunday’s show.
The stars were also taking their seats as fans. Pink said on the red carpet that she’d like to collaborate with Lauryn Hill. Cyndi Lauper said her musical playlist includes Pink, Nicki Minaj and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” — an early live performance. Boy band The Wanted, who followed, said they were excited to see “Gangnam Style” star PSY, and Colbie Caillat wants to watch No Doubt.
“What makes the American Music Awards special is the fans choose the winning artists,” said Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who is nominated for favorite artist alternative rock and will perform at the show.
Carrie Underwood arrived in a magenta dress and Kerry Washington was in a banana Stella McCartney number. Heidi Klum and Ginnifer Goodwin were also on the scene.
Along with Rihanna, Minaj is the top nominee at Sunday’s American Music Awards, but the rapper-singer isn’t concerned with her four nominations.
“I don’t do music for awards,” the 29-year-old said in an interview. “It’s so crazy because people always have to remind me that I’m nominated for an award when I go to award shows.”
“I know they’re going to come. I’m sitting here looking at my awards right now,” she continued with a laugh. “I never stress it. I think of myself as ‘I’ll have a career long enough to get all those different awards.’”
In the pop/rock category, Minaj is up for favorite female artist and album for “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.” She’s also nominated for favorite artist and album in the hip-hop/rap category, two awards she won last year.
Minaj isn’t up for the night’s top award, though. Rihanna, Maroon 5, Drake, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber will battle it out for artist of the year.
But the American Music Awards are all about performances, and Sunday’s show was no exception. Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood will perform. Justin Bieber will share the stage with Minaj. Ludacris and Chris Brown will perform with Swizz Beatz. And Stevie Wonder is set to provide the soundtrack for a tribute to the late Dick Clark.
“I’m really going there to perform ‘Freedom,’” Minaj said of her new single. “I’m very, very proud of the record and I’m happy that people are going to get to hear it. I’m performing a hip-hop song on the AMAs, and I think . that’s just a big look for hip-hop.”
The three-hour program was be broadcast live on ABC.
Other multiple nominees include Usher, Bieber, Drake, Maroon 5 and One Direction, who have three nods each. Perry, Underwood, Brown, Clarkson, Pitbull, fun., Gotye, J. Cole and Luke Bryan are all double nominees.
American Music Awards nominees were selected based on sales and airplay, and fans chose the winners by voting online.
The 40th anniversary show will also include the tribute to Clark, its creator.
“Dick changed the face of music back in the late ‘50s,” producer Larry Klein said. “Dick is the one who made rock ‘n’ roll acceptable to come into people’s homes… We’re paying tribute to Dick because of the legacy that he’s left everybody and also the creativity of what he did on this show.”
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report from Los Angeles. Follow (at)APSandy’s American Music Award updates at www.twitter.com/APEntertainment.