| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Rapper Nicki Minaj picked up two American Music Awards on Sunday as voters split other top honors among several acts including rockers Maroon 5, country singer Taylor Swift and the soulful Adele.
Minaj, who opened the show singing her smash hit single "Super Bass" in a metallic outfit that had two large speakers on her bottom, was named favorite hip-hop artist and her record "Pink Friday" won best hip-hop album.
"This one could actually make me cry," Minaj said onstage accepting her second trophy for "Pink Friday" before wiping away tears from her eyes. "I can't believe this is happening."
She thanked rapper Lil Wayne, who put Minaj in his stable of artists at Young Money records, and then noted it has been such an amazing year for her that even her mother has now set out to record a gospel album.
Maroon 5 picked up the honor for best pop or rock group behind its current hit "Moves Like Jagger." Onstage, frontman Adam Levine thanked fans for giving the band its first AMA honor. "To get one of these, you have to have loyal fans," he said, echoing many acceptance speeches of the night.
Taylor Swift won best country female artist for the fourth straight year, and Lady Antebellum was named best country band for the second straight year.
Among R&B acts, Rihanna grabbed best album with "Loud," winning over ex-boyfriend Chris Brown and his "F.A.M.E."
In AMAs announced offstage, British singer Adele, who came into the night with a leading four nominations, picked up the award for favorite adult contemporary artist, while the Foo Fighters earned top alternative rock band.
UNDER BIEBER'S MISTLETOE
Performances by Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Bieber, singing his holiday song "Under the Mistletoe," all had fans singing in the audience, and Enrique Iglesias with his anthem "I Like How it Feels" had them standing and hopping to the beat. Marc Anthony and Pitbull also rocked the crowd.
The awards telecast is among the most widely watched of the annual U.S. musical honors, next to the Grammys, and a long list of artists were on hand to claim trophies and perform.
Awards are divided into genres of pop or rock, rap or hip-hop, country and R&B. Nominees compete in categories for favorite artists and best albums.
Up later in the evening are the major awards, which figure to honor Adele and pop stars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
With her throat on the mend after recent surgery, "Rolling in the Deep" singer Adele entered the AMAs with a leading four nominations for her work on the smash hit album "21."
The singer suffered a setback this month when she had surgery to treat a benign polyp on her vocal cords. The surgery was successful but she is currently unable to perform.
Even though Adele is leading the AMA nominations, she faces stiff competition from Perry and Lady Gaga for best female artist and artist of the year awards. Also competing for artist of the year are rapper Lil Wayne and country sensation Swift.
Adele has enjoyed a huge year of sales with "21," which includes hit songs such as "Rumour Has It," but her luck at awards shows has been mixed. At the MTV Video Music Awards, for instance, Adele's videos won some minor categories such as art direction but lost in the top categories.
Perry won MTV's video of the year award and Lady Gaga had best female video. Similarly, Lady Gaga came up a big winner at MTV's recent Europe Music Awards.
(Editing by John O'Callaghan and Todd Eastham)