Boy bands top American Music Awards, ladies lead performances

One Direction poses with their three awards in the press room at the 2014 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California, November 23, 2014.

LOS ANGELES - Boy bands bested pop's leading women in the top award categories at the American Music Awards on Sunday, but the ladies delivered the most high-octane performances including a derriere-flaunting number by Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea.

British boy band One Direction won the top award of the night for artist of the year, and led the winners with three accolades in the fan-voted awards. "It's amazing because we worked so hard on these last two albums," band member Liam Payne said. The five-piece band performed its latest single "Night Changes" against a night-time forest backdrop.

Katy Perry also won three awards, but did not attend the awards show because she is on tour in Australia.

Boy band power proved strong as Australian newcomers 5 Seconds of Summer won the coveted new artist of the year award.

Azalea, the newcomer Australian rapper, won favourite rap/hip hop album for "The New Classic" and favourite rap/hip hop artist over Eminem and Drake in both categories. "As musicians, we receive so much critique and we really question what we're doing, but I think this validates that I'm on the right path," the 24-year-old Azalea said.

A sultry Taylor Swift performed "Blank Space" on stage and was awarded the first-ever Dick Clark Award for Excellence, in memory of the founder of the American Music Awards who died in 2012. She received the award from R&B diva Diana Ross. "I'm so blown away to have just received an award from Diana Ross, who over the course of her career stood up for herself so many times in a period when it wasn't popular for women to stand up for themselves," Swift said.

Much of the three-hour awards show, aired on ABC, was dedicated to performances dominated by the ladies of pop music, including a raunchy rendition of "Booty" by Azalea and Lopez, with lots of rump-shaking.

Pop stars Grande, Selena Gomez and Nicki Minaj opted for less audacious performances showcasing their vocal talents.

Grande sang "One Less Problem" and "Break Free" with a jazz twist while an emotional Gomez sang "The Heart Want What It Wants," rumored to be about her on-off relationship with Justin Bieber. Minaj and Skylar Grey performed their duet "Bed of Lies." Grande and Minaj later spiced up the stage with Jessie J with their upbeat "Bang Bang."