Ariana Grande accepts the award for artist of the year at the 2016 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Canadian rapper Drake won his first ever American Music Awards on Sunday, Ariana Grande was named artist of the year, and punk band Green Day took aim at newly-elected U.S. President Donald Trump.

“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” sang Green Day, performing their controversial anti-gun violence single “Bang Bang” on the live show and re-writing some of the lyrics.

It was the most overt reference to the Nov.8 U.S. presidential elections at the three-hour awards show where the focus was otherwise mostly on music.

Pop singer Selena Gomez, 24, who surprised fans by making her first major public appearance since cutting short her world tour in August to deal with panic attacks and depression, won the best pop/rock female artist award.

In an emotional speech, Gomez thanked her fans for their loyalty and explained why she felt the need to take a break.

“Most of you know a lot of my life whether I like it or not. I had to stop. I had everything, but I was absolutely broken,” said Gomez, who is also known for her on and off again romance with Justin Bieber for the past five years.

Drake, 30, who got a leading 13 nominations, won best rap/hip-hop artist, song and album for his best-selling “Views”, which earlier this year became the first album to earn one billion streams on Apple Music.

“For our genre, I like to keep things exciting and keep making music... more like this is coming soon,” Drake said, accepting the award.

But pop singer Grande, 23, was chosen artist of the year, beating Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Gomez.

“I can't believe this. I am shaking with nerves,” she said. “I hope that I can bring joy to you and make you feel unified and happy.”

Former One Direction member Zayn Malik, who quit British boy band One Direction last year to launch a solo career, bested Canadian Shawn Mendes to take the best new artist trophy.

“It's been a crazy year... I didn't expect anyone to still vote for me,” said Zayn, who now uses only his first name.

British singer Sting, who last week released his first pop/rock album in a decade, “57th and 9th,” sang a medley of his hits and was presented with an honorary award recognizing his contribution to the music industry.

Sting said he owed a debt to American rock and roll, adding “While I may be an Englishman in New York, my musical soul is all American.”

Bieber performed “Never Give Up” via satellite from a concert in Italy and won awards for best pop/rock male artist, album, song and video.

Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, Niall Horan, James Bay and John Legend were among the dozens of other performers on the Los Angeles stage.

The American Music Awards were created in 1973 as an alternative to the Grammys.

Prince's sister delivered a heartfelt speech in honour of the late star at the American Music Awards on Sunday, November 20.

Tyka Nelson, 56, collected the music legend's award for Favourite Soundtrack, which he was posthumously awarded for 1984's smash hit 'Purple Rain'.

Tyka spoke of the 'Kiss' singer's dreams of being “the world's most prolific songwriter” and how he achieved that in his lifetime.

Speaking of her older brother - who died of an overdose in April at the age of 57 - Tyka said: “Prince defied the odds. A black teen from Minneapolis with a goal to electrify the world, he had the courage to be different. With his vision [and] God-given talent, he is still one of the world's most respected and loved artists.

“What he told me was that he wanted to be known as the world's most prolific songwriter. And with 984 titles to his credit and counting, he has done just that.

“In the words of Prince: 'With love, honour and respect for every living thing in the universe, separation ceases, and we all become one being, singing one song.'“

And Tyka was left in tears as she reached the end of her speech, saying that she and her half-siblings - Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Alfred Jackson, and Omarr Baker - will keep the award at Prince's Paisley Park estate in memory of the iconic star.

She said: “On behalf of Prince our wonderful friend, teacher and brother, I humbly accept this award. We ... will keep this for you at Paisley Park, until we see you again. This is for you.”

 

 

The full American Music Awards winners list:

Artist of the Year - Ariana Grande

New Artist of the Year - Zayn Malik

Favourite Pop/Rock Female Artist - Selena Gomez

Favourite Pop/Rock Male Artist - Justin Bieber

Favourite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group - Twenty One Pilots

Favourite Pop/Rock Album - 'Purpose' / Justin Bieber

Favourite Soul/R&B Female Artist - Rihanna

Favourite Soul/R&B Male Artist - Chris Brown

Favourite Soul/R&B Album - 'Anti' / Rihanna

Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist - Drake

Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Album - 'Views' / Drake

Favourite Latin Artist - Enrique Inglesias

Favourite Country Male Artist - Blake Shelton

Favourite Country Female Artist - Carrie Underwood

Favourite Country Band/Duo/Group - Florida Georgia Line

Favourite Country Album - 'Storyteller' / Carrie Underwood

Favourite Soundtrack - 'Purple Rain' / Prince

Favourite Adult Contemporary Artist - Adele

Favourite Alternative Artist - Twenty One Pilots

Favourite Electronic Dance Music Artist - The Chainsmokers

Favourite Contemporary Inspirational Artist - Hillsong United

Merit Award - Sting

Collab of the Year - 'Work from Home' / Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla Sign

Favourite Country Song - 'Humble and Kind' / Tim McGraw

Favourite Pop/Rock Song - 'Love Yourself' / Justin Bieber

Favourite Soul/R&B Song - 'Work' / Rihanna ft. Drake

Favourite Rap/Hip-Hop Song - 'Hotline Bling' / Drake

Video of the Year - 'Sorry' / Justin Bieber

Tour of the Year - 'The Formation World Tour' / Beyoncé

 

Bang Showbiz and DPA