* Rihanna, Bieber, Maroon 5 up for artist of year
* Annual music show celebrates 40th anniversary
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - The American Music Awards
rings in its 40th year on Sunday, with top nominees like Rihanna
and Nicki Minaj battling for the top trophies and Stevie Wonder
leading a tribute to the show's late founder, Dick Clark.
Variety is the key to this year's three-hour ceremony from
Los Angeles, with performers including Canadian pop star Justin
Bieber, 1990s ska-punk band No Doubt, alt-rockers Linkin Park,
country-pop darling Taylor Swift, Korean Internet sensation Psy
and British-Irish boyband The Wanted.
"The AMAs reflects pop culture, which is all forms of music,
all genres, pop, rock, country, hip hop, alternative ... all
these things that normally don't together. It's our job to make
it flow," producer Larry Klein told Reuters.
R&B star Rihanna, 24, and Minaj, 29, tied for the most
nominations this year, with four apiece, and will battle each
other in the hotly contested female pop-rock category.
Rihanna will also face stiff competition for the top award
of the night, the artist of the year accolade, where she will
compete with Bieber, Katy Perry, Maroon 5 and Drake.
The new artist category is expected to be a tight race
between rapper J. Cole, indie-pop band fun., Australian singer
Gotye, British boyband One Direction and Canadian popstar Carly
Rae Jepsen, who will also be performing on Sunday. The ceremony
will be shown live on ABC Television.
Unlike the Grammy Awards, which are decided on by music
producers, songwriters and others working in the industry, the
American Music Awards are determined by fans.
"It's the public who watches, who decides, who votes. This
is an awards show where the public decides the nominees and
winners, so our shows are more about pop culture," Klein said.
This year sees a new category for the growing electronic
dance music market, which Klein said he couldn't ignore. DJs
David Guetta, Skrillex and Calvin Harris will compete for the
REMEMBERING DICK CLARK
This is the first time Klein will be running the show
without the input of influential music and TV producer Dick
Clark, who died in April at the age of 82. Clark created the
American Music Awards in 1973 as an alternative to the Grammys,
and Klein said his absence felt bizarre.
"Last year, he loved the show, he was very happy. He loved
LMFAO when they closed the show, it was all a fun party of
music, dance music, Dick loved it," Klein said.
Clark, who also hosted "American Bandstand" and "New Year's
Rockin' Eve," will be remembered on Sunday in a tribute led by
Wonder and "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest.
"I wanted to make it classy, elegant and meaningful, with
something that truly summoned the relationship that Dick had
with so many people," said Klein, who has been involved in the
show since its inception.
Klein said the show will look back on its 40-year history,
showcasing some of its most memorable moments. Klein's personal
picks included performances from late singer Michael Jackson,
funk-pop star Prince, and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' rendition in
2009 of "Empire State of Mind."
"I was very close to Michael Jackson, so every time Michael
was on the show, it always made me happy. The Prince number we
did was outrageous, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys...it really was epic,
it was just extraordinary," Klein said.
With more than fifteen individual performances, or
"mini-shows" scheduled for Sunday, Klein said audiences can
"Live TV is the best, it's unpredictable. Without a doubt
there will be some unpredictable moments, I promise you," the
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant)