Swift beat out Justin Bieber, Post Malone and Roddy Ricch to win the top award, also winning favorite music video and favorite pop/rock female artist.
Taylor Swift has won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at the American Music Awards, but didn't show up at the party for a good reason: She said she's busy re-recording her early music after her catalog was sold.
In a video that aired during Sunday's awards show, the pop star said “the reason I’m not there tonight is I’m actually re-recording all of my old music in the studio where we originally recorded it. So it’s been amazing. And I can’t wait for you to hear it."
Last year music manager Scooter Braun – who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande – announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, the home to Swift’s first six albums.
This month Braun said he has sold the master rights to Swift’s first six albums to an investment company; Swift acknowledged the sale on social media and said she would not work with the new buyers because Braun was still involved.
Instead, she headed back to the studio.
Swift beat out Bieber, Post Malone and Roddy Ricch to win the top award. She also won favorite music video and favorite pop/rock female artist, winning three honors and tying Bieber, Dan + Shay and Canadian singer the Weeknd for most wins.
Weeknd sports bizarre costume choice
The Weeknd, sporting a large white face bandage bagged the trophies for best soul/R&B male artist as well as his album "After Hours" and song "Heartless."
He gave no reason for his appearance, which confused fans on social media, but it appeared to be an artistic choice that started with his March album cover where he sported a bloodied and broken nose.
The Weeknd, who will headline the halftime show at next year's Super Bowl, had gone into the fan-voted awards show with a leading eight nominations.
"I'm just happy to be off the couch and in some real fashion," said host Taraji P Henson, opening the show, which featured a mix of live and pre-recorded performances across Latin, country, pop, rap and R&B music soul in front of a handful of socially distanced fans.
"It has been a long year and now that 2020 is coming to an end it's time to remember that we are one country, you all. We need to heal," the "Empire" actress said.
Masked dancers and stripped-down performances were the order of the night, kicking off with Bieber singing his hits "Lonely" and "Holy" before being joined by Shawn Mendes for their duet "Monster."
The show celebrated the surge in popularity of Latin music with expanded categories and a steamy performance by Jennifer Lopez and Colombian singer Maluma singing "Lonely" in both English and Spanish.
Becky G, whose parents are Mexican-American, won for best female Latin artist and dedicated her award to immigrant workers.
K-pop group BTS won two, for best pop/rock group and favorite social artists and closed the show with a version of their hits "Dynamite" and "Life Goes On" from South Korea.
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion marked her debut performance at the American Music Awards with "Body" and later accepted the best rap/hip-hop song trophy for her raunchy summer collaboration "WAP" with Cardi B.
But she was beaten in the best new artist category by Los Angeles singer Doja Cat, who was also named favorite female soul/R&B artist.
Bieber and country duo Dan + Shay won two for their collaboration on "10,000 Hours," while Katy Perry gave her first major performance since giving birth to a baby girl in August.