Top prizes go One Direction

Top prizes go One Direction

LOS ANGELES - Boy band One Direction took home the top prizes at the 42nd American Music Awards (AMA) as chart-topper Taylor Swift used the platform to deliver a staunch defence of traditional album-buying.

The AMA focuses on commercial success, with fans voting for their favourites, in contrast to the older Grammy Awards in which music industry professionals select what they consider to be the year's top work.

One Direction, the heartthrobs who have released albums every year since 2011, won the biggest prizes including Artist of the Year and Favourite Album with their latest work, Midnight Memories.

The British quintet flew to Los Angeles for Sunday's gala ceremony at the Nokia Theatre, where the young men thanked screaming fans for One Direction's success in the United States.

Swift received a new award for excellence named in honour of the AMA's late founder Dick Clark, a pioneer of music television performances with his American Bandstand show.

Accepting the award from Motown legend Diana Ross, Swift appeared to dish out a new round of criticism, albeit obliquely, against the streaming service Spotify from which she has pulled her music.

Thanking her fans, she said: "What you did by going out and investing in music and albums is you're saying that you believe in the same thing that I believe in - that music is valuable and that music should be consumed in albums, and albums should be consumed as art and appreciated."

Her latest album, 1989, enjoyed the highest sales of any US album in its first week in 12 years. It far outpaced industry expectations by selling two million copies in the US in its first three weeks.

After the album came out, she pulled her entire catalog from Spotify, accusing the fast-growing streaming service of devaluing music by not paying enough back to artists.

Spotify's Swedish founder, Daniel Ek, responded by pointing out that the company has paid US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion) to artists and songwriters since its 2008 launch, creating a rare source of new revenue in the beleaguered industry.

Swift opened the evening by performing her latest single, Blank Space, in which the 24-year-old singer - playing at her reputation for short-lived relationships - held a burning rose as she pushed back suitors who pranced around her holding open picture frames.

Hip-hop's bad boy Lil Wayne also took to the stage in a passionate dance with actress and singer Christina Milian, his rumoured girlfriend.

They performed Start A Fire - with ABC television editing out some lyrics from the broadcast. The track is expected to be on his upcoming album Tha Carter V, which is scheduled for release on Dec 9.

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