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PopWrapped | Music

Ranking The 2015 American Music Awards Performances From Worst To Best

Mike Nied | PopWrapped Author

Mike Nied

Updated 11/25/2015 9:23am
Ranking The 2015 American Music Awards Performances From Worst To Best | American Music Awards
Media Courtesy of American Music Awards

And that's a wrap on the 2015 American Music Awards! Last night (November 22), Los Angeles' Microsoft Theatre set the scene for a star-studded event hosted by Jennifer Lopez. Awards were handed out to everyone from the absent Taylor Swift (who will be collecting three awards at will call) to Justin Bieber and One Direction; however, the focus last night was on the live performances.

True to form at any award show, last night's performers pulled out all the stops for their time onstage at the American Music Awards. Leaping flames, frenzied dancers, live vocals, onstage make-outs, mirrors, water, and so much more set the stage for a wild night of performances. Here's our ranking of the top 20 moments from last night. Please note that we have come up with 20 performances, as we decided to include Shawn Mendes's pre-show performances as well.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

20.  Luke Bryan and Karen Fairchild, "Home Alone Tonight"

The country duet hit the American Music Awards stage with a vengeance during their performance of duet "Home Alone Tonight." Performing in front of a spinning mirrored stage, the duo provided a good, if unmemorable, performance.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

19.  Gwen Stefani, "Used To Love You"

Strange staging and a shaky vocal performance put a bit of a damper on Gwen Stefani's emotional live rendition of "Used To Love You." We just didn't really get the set, which saw her performing in front of a sea of her own faces and later incorporated a crew of dancers. On the bright side, Stefani could not have looked more gorgeous than she did in her mesh gown.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

18.  5 Seconds of Summer, "Hey Everybody"

5 Seconds of Summer took the stage early in the American Music Awards, and they definitely lit things up with their rousing rock performance.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

17.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with Leon Bridges, "Kevin"

A full choir and live band provided something a little different than what you expect from a typical Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performance, but the passionate performance was all the more powerful as a result. It's good to hear new material from the duo, and "Kevin" is one of their most evocative releases to date.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

16.  Pentatonix, Star Wars score

Pentatonix channeled iconic looks from the Star Wars saga as they took the stage for a tribute to John William's iconic score.  The performance started out strong with a gorgeous arrangement of vocals from the a cappella hitmakers; however, they found themselves lost in the instrumentation of a full orchestra. It is somewhat confusing that a group known to effortlessly perform without instrumentation would incorporate such a momentous sound to their performance, but the overall effect was still hugely entertaining.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

15.  Carrie Underwood, "Heartbeat"

Dressed in a romantic red gown, Carrie Underwood performed "Heartbeat" in front of a starry night sky and some pillar candles. Although her performance was one of the most intimate of the night, something seemed just the slightest bit off about the moment. Suffice to say we felt the spark, but we weren't in love.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

14.  Coldplay, "Adventure of a Lifetime"

The usually serious Coldplay pulled out all the stops for a playful performance at the American Music Awards. The iconic rockers performed their new single in front of a colorful stage. What were the gorilla suit dancers doing? That was definitely a WTF moment, although we could get behind the beach balls that sailed across the audience!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

13.  Shawn Mendes, "Act Like You Love Me/Stitches"

The rising teen act took the stage during the American Music Awards pre-show; however, he still managed to have one of the stronger moments of the evening. Mendes served hugely emotional vocals while performing surrounded by a horde of tweens. There was something so intimate seeing his fans singing along while sitting around him on the stage that set his performance apart from the other openers. Our only issue is the serious lack of his newest Camila Cabbello-assisted release, "I Know What You Did Last Summer!" Where was it?!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

12.  One Direction, "Perfect"

Last night was a big evening for the the boys of One Direction. Harry Styles single-handedly tried to bring bell bottoms back into style, they gave an interview about their impending hiatus, took home a few awards, and performed their current single "Perfect"! In a pre-show interview, the guys promised a lot of lights during their performance, and they delivered a sea of stage lighting, which set the scene for a fun performance. Knowing that this is one of the final performances before their break added a bittersweet sense to the night, but their sweet harmonies lifted everyone's spirits!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

11.  Walk The Moon, "Shut Up and Dance"

Walk The Moon got the entire audience up during their performance of breakthrough hit "Shut Up And Dance." Armed with a colorful and electrifying stage and some synthy keyboard, the band lit up the stage; however, the highlight of the performance had to go to the Grande kids dancing with their grandma in the front row. Taylor Swift was absent, so Nonna Grande easily took the title of best dancer at last night's American Music Awards! Get it, Gram!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

10.  Jennifer Lopez, "Waiting for Tonight" and 2015 Hits Medley

Jenny from the Block, the 2015 American Music Awards hostess, set the bar very high for the evening as she opened the show with a dance performance. J.Lo kicked things off with an orchestral performance of her single "Waiting for Tonight," before she kicked things into high gear with her crew of dancers.  Dressed in a tribal inspired bodysuit Jennifer Lopez twerked, leapt, kicked, turned, and generally danced her way through a medley of the biggest hits of the year. While her performance would have benefited from the inclusion of more live vocals, Jennifer Lopez proved to be the hostess with the mostest and one of the best dancers on the scene still. Nicki Minaj may have been less than impressed, but we were all sorts of in love!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

9.  Selena Gomez, "Same Old Love"

This is her revival, and she pulled out all the stops. With her long tresses and very sheer body suit, Selena Gomez appeared as a bonafide pop princess as she performed her current single in front of a crew of very male dancers. A stunning staircase, explosions, dance breaks, and disco balls set the scene for a strong performance from the "Good For You" siren!

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

8.  Demi Lovato, "Confident"

Demi Lovato was dripping confidence from the moment that she hit the stage the the American Music Awards. Dressed in a very short dress, Lovato showcased her tight waist and tightly curled hair during her fun performance. Everything about the performance had a rocking edge to it, which only added to Demi Lovato's fearless attitude.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

7.  Ariana Grande, "Focus"

Old Hollywood seems to have been a theme of the evening, as Ariana Grande took things back in time for the premiere performance of her polarizing single "Focus." Grande kicked things off with a cabaret-inspired opening before a quick costume change set the scene for the remainder of the set. Grande has clearly been hard at work in the dance studio, and she gave the track's choreography her all while serving live vocal realness. Honey still needs to work on enunciating, but the performance did breathe new life into the less than exciting new single.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

6.  The Weeknd, "The Hills"

Fire seems to be The Weeknd's thing. The R&B crooner lit the stage on fire for the VMAs this year, and flames set the theme for his American Music Awards performance of "The Hills," as well. Performing surrounded by an arbor of fire, The Weeknd served equally steamy vocals and made a lasting impression on the stage.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

5.  Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth, "Like I'm Gonna Lose You/Marvin Gaye"

Meghan Trainor took the stage for one of her first post-surgery performances for a dreary but adorable performance of her current single "Like I'm Gonna Lose You." John Legend was out of commission for the evening, so a quick costume change from a chic raincoat to a glimmering gown set the scene for a slightly different duet. Charlie Puth came out playing the piano, and the duo performed their playful "Marvin Gaye" while paired off dancers got close onstage. While their dancers were lovey-dovey and adorable, Trainor and Puth finished up their set with a little bit of PDA themselves. It was the make-out session seen round the world, and it looks like we have just been introduced to a new pop couple.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

4.  Nick Jonas, "Chains/Levels/Jealous"

After an adorable introduction from his brother Joe, Nick Jonas took the stage to perform a medley of his defining singles of 2015 for the American Music Awards. Starting out at the piano, the youngest JoBro showcased his multi-instrumental performance skills during a stripped back performance of "Chains." Afterwards, it was straight to the drum set for a hard-hitting moment during "Levels," then Jonas led a full choir through a rousing performance of his biggest hit to date, "Jealous." The performance was all good fun, and it ended (quite literally) on a strong high note from the dreamy pop star.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

3.  Alanis Morissette and Demi Lovato, "You Oughta Know"

One of the most hyped moments of this years American Music Awards was the duet between Demi Lovato and the iconic Alanis Morissette. The duo performed the latter's oft-covered (by Britney, Beyonce, the list continues...) Jagged Little Pill hit "You Oughta Know," effectively tearing down the theatre with their combined fury at an ex-lover. While Lovato growled her lyrics with a rocking edge, Morissette performed with a slightly more restrained timbre. It was as though she was performing from a more mature point of view, while Demi channeled the angsty fury with which the vengeful track originally resonated.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

2.  Celine Dion, "Hymne a L'Amour"

There was not a dry eye in California's Microsoft Theatre as Celine Dion performed Edith Piaf's classic French ballad in honor of those who lost their lives or were injured during the Paris terrorist attacks. Dion took the stage after a poignant introduction from Jared Leto and performed the heart-wrenching number in front of a montage of photos of the city of light and love. The French-Canadian songstress's voice crackled and resonated with sheer power and sincerity, providing the most touching moment of the American Music Awards without a doubt.

American Music Awards Courtesy of American Music Awards

1. Justin Bieber, "What Do You Mean/Where Are U Now/Sorry"

Justin Bieber closed out the American Music Awards with a medley of hits from his Purpose album, aptly putting an end to his 2015 apology tour and ending the evening on the highest of notes. Biebs opened his set with an acoustic performance of his chart-topping single "What Do You Mean" before taking things to the dance floor for the Jack U-assisted "Where Are U Now." All that was great and all, but Bieber cemented his position atop our list when he and his dancers were drenched in a deluge of water for their performance of current single "Sorry." You could quite simply sum up the moment by reverently intoning "EPIC, EPIC, EPIC, EPIC! HOT DAMN THAT WAS AMAZING," which was my response to the incredible spectacle. In a way, the rainstorm had a purifying effect, as Bieber washed away the sins of previous years all while serving some epic choreography. The performance was triumphant, youthful, and a defining moment in the career of Justin Bieber! Bieber is back and better than ever, thank you very kindly!

What do you think of our countdown of the performances from last night's American Music Awards? Let us know if you agree with our ranking below!

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