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Bieber and Mum clean up at American Music Awards

The American Music Awards are all about the teeth, the hair and the teen-friendly public image, with the music coming in a distant fourth. With those criteria in mind there was always going to be one big winner.

Justin Bieber, the most perfectly-realised amalgam of unthreatening, marketable and newly-available pop attributes, duly obliged, picking up the awards for Favourite Artist, Favourite Album and Favourite Male Artist.

In a suitably all-American boy-next-door gesture, he dragged his Mum on stage to join him in receiving the dangerously-pointed awards. "This is my mom," he said, just in case anyone thought it was his date. "She's little, but she's beautiful." For those who take consolation in thinking that pop sensations are usually short-lived, Bieber had some ominous words. "For all the haters who thought that I was just here for one or two years," he said, "I feel like I'm going to be here for a very long time."

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Those in attendance reported that Taylor Swift, who won the Favourite Country Artist category, stole the show with her rendition of 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' Nicky Minaj won the awards for Favourite Artist and Favourite Album in the hip-hop category.

The AMAS know that they are about image and marketing clout more than the music, which is why they call the prizes 'Favourite' rather than 'Best'. This is a popularity contest rather than a serious critical appraisal of popular music.

It’s also for the kids rather than the grownups. The strange category called "Adult Contemporary" was won by Adele, just ahead of American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, and plodding rockers Train.

In an alternative reality of American music, in 2012 legends Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen released their finest albums in years. Needless to say, the grizzled veterans’ names were conspicuous by their absence from the AMAs.

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