The 39th American Music Awards was held on November 20, 2011 (8:00/7:00 EST/CST), at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles (see 2011 in music). The awards recognized the most popular artists and albums from the year 2011. Nominees were announced on October 11, 2011. The awards ceremony was host-free. It was broadcast on ABC. Taylor Swift and Adele were the big winners of the night picking up three awards in total.
Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter and actress. Raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career in country music. She signed with the independent label Big Machine Records and became the youngest songwriter ever hired by the Sony/ATV Music publishing house. The release of Swift's self-titled debut album in 2006 marked the start of her career as a country music singer. Her third single, "Our Song," made her the youngest person to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Swift's second album, Fearless, was released in 2008. Buoyed by the pop crossover success of the singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me," Fearless became the best-selling album of 2009 in the United States. The album won four Grammy Awards, making Swift the youngest ever Album of the Year winner. Swift's third and fourth albums, 2010's Speak Now and 2012's Red, both sold more than one million copies within the first week of their U.S release. Speak Now's "Mean" won two Grammy Awards, while Red's singles "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "I Knew You Were Trouble" were successful worldwide. Swift's fifth album, the pop-focused 1989, was released in 2014 and sold more copies in its opening week than any album in the previous 12 years, making Swift the first and only act to have three albums sell more than one million copies in the opening release week. Its singles "Shake It Off", "Blank Space", and "Bad Blood" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Swift is known for narrative songs about her personal experiences. As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include seven Grammy Awards, one Emmy Award, 22 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award. She is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.1 million in the U.S.—and 130 million single downloads. Swift has also had supporting roles in feature films including Valentine's Day (2010) and The Giver (2014). In 2015, Swift became the youngest woman ever to be included on Forbes' "100 Most Powerful Women" list, ranking at number 64.
Katheryn Elizabeth "Katy" Hudson (born October 25, 1984), better known by her stage name Katy Perry, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. After singing in church during her childhood, she pursued a career in gospel music as a teenager. Perry signed with Red Hill Records and released her debut studio album Katy Hudson in 2001, which was commercially unsuccessful. She moved to Los Angeles the following year to venture into secular music after Red Hill ceased operations. After being dropped by The Island Def Jam Music Group and Columbia Records, Perry signed a recording contract with Capitol Records in April 2007.
Perry rose to fame in 2008 with the release of the singles "I Kissed a Girl" – which had attention-grabbing and somewhat controversial lyrics – and "Hot n Cold" from her second album, a pop rock record titled One of the Boys. Her third album, Teenage Dream (2010), ventured into disco, and contained the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping singles "California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "Firework", "E.T.", and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" as well as the number-three single "The One That Got Away". The album became the first by a female artist to produce five number-one Billboard Hot 100 songs, and the second overall after Michael Jackson's album Bad (1987). In March 2012, she reissued the album as Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, which produced the songs "Part of Me" and "Wide Awake".
Her fourth album, Prism, was released in 2013, and is influenced by pop and dance. She became the first artist with multiple videos to reach one billion views on Vevo with the videos for its songs "Roar" and "Dark Horse" each gaining over one billion views. Her songwriting is mostly done in collaboration with others, especially Dr. Luke and Max Martin, and in songs such as "Firework" and "Roar" she stresses themes of self-empowerment and self-esteem. Perry is known for an idiosyncratic and fun-based sense of personal fashion that incorporates bright colors and food-based themes. Her concert performances feature elaborate stagings and costumings.
Perry has received many awards, including three Guinness World Records, and been included in the Forbes list of "Top-Earning Women In Music" (2011–14). Throughout her career, she has sold 11 million albums and 81 million singles worldwide. Perry has also made celebrity endorsements and released perfumes Purr, Meow!, and Killer Queen. In July 2012, she released an autobiographical documentary titled Katy Perry: Part of Me, which concentrated on her life as a touring artist and the dissolution of her brief marriage to English actor and comedian Russell Brand in the early 2010s.