The AMA Nominees (2020)24 min read

With the AMAs only a week away, I thought it would be a great idea to really check out the AMA nominees for 2020. I’ve never voted for the AMAs, so I thought this would be a great year to start participating.

NOTE: This is an embellished transcript of my YouTube video “i listened to every AMA nomination so you don’t have to”. Enjoy 🙂

I just listened to 236 songs in the span of three days.

Before we start, I just want to say that I will be separating the artists from their art for the purpose of this article with the sole reason being that I have no idea who most of these artists are, or what they have done outside of these songs. I also want to say that all opinions are my own. They may differ from yours, so feel free to start a conversation about all that with me in the comments of my YouTube video. You might have noticed I’ve turned off blog comments — there was too much spam.

AMA 2020 Song Nominees

I know everyone kind of memes on the AMAs because big award shows are generally a little out of touch (and geared toward mainstream music), but we are just going to ignore that for about ten minutes and listen to what they want me to hear.

I’m only going to be voting for songs, albums, and music videos, so I’m not even going to go into the artist rankings or movie soundtracks. Everything should just be in the order of announcement from the official AMAS 2020 nominee announcement sheet.

AMA Nominees 2020: Collaboration of the Year

  • “WAP” by Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Rockstar” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
  • “10,000 Hours” by Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber
  • “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
  • “Savage Remix” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé

The only song that I heard before doing the research for this project was “WAP”. I had also heard snippets of “Savage” (thanks TikTok), but not the whole song, nor the nominated remix. So with those biases out in the open, let’s pick a winner.

One of the more popular collaborative artists in the 2020 AMA nominees, Megan Thee Stallion.
Megan Thee Stallion

Honestly, none of these songs really stuck out to me. If you want to hear the real collaboration of the year, stream “About Us” by Khamsin, Kidswaste, and Manu Dia.

I guess I’ll say I really didn’t like “10,000 Hours”. It just sounded really cheesey, and a little outdated for something that is supposed to represent 2020. Like the tempo and melody structure, the harmonies in the background, sparkle samples; it reminded me of the early 2000s. “Rain on Me” gave me similar vibes, but geared more toward Gaga’s 2009 era, accompanied by a very basic house beat.

“Rockstar” simply felt repetitive and rather low effort for something to be nominated as a “best” anything. Let alone a collaboration.

So, that does leave me with “WAP” and the “Savage” remix – the only two songs I heard before embarking on this journey. For the category of best collaboration, I do think that Megan works better with Cardi B. Their styles and their vocal ranges just work better together. Strictly music-speaking, I do enjoy listening to Savage more, but for “Best Collaboration”, I think I do have to give it to WAP.

Maryn’s pick for Collaboration of the Year: “WAP” by Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion

Favourite Song – POP/ROCK

Next up in the 2020 AMA “POP/ROCK” nominees, which, frankly, has no business being grouped together like this.

  • “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi
  • “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
  • “Circles” by Post Malone
  • “The Box” by Roddy Ricch
  • “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
One of the more popular Pop/Rock genre 2020 AMA nominees, Dua Lipa.  The text on the image says, "Live Sunday Nov. 22 8/7 central on ABC."

I had not heard any of these songs beforehand, so just based on first listen, I really, really enjoyed “Don’t Start Now” and “The Box” more than the others on this list. I don’t think that “Someone You Loved” really should be classified as either pop nor rock, so that’s not even a contender for me.

“Circles” by Post Malone was good, but again, seemed pretty repetitive. “Blinding Lights” was super fun and gave me those 80s dance crave vibes, which you know I love.

None of these nominations really screamed rock to me, so just based on the pop genre, I do think that Dua Lipa gets the crown. It’s so fun and really well produced. It seriously makes me want to dance when I hear it, and I am not a dancer.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – POP/ROCK: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa

Favourite Song – COUNTRY

I’ll admit, I am not very well-versed in country music. I know it’s a genre that gets dunked on a lot by every other genre, but hey, let’s just give it a chance, okay?

Our nominees are:

  • “10,000 Hours” by Dan + Shay with Justin Bieber
  • “The Bones” by Maren Morris
  • “Nobody But You” by Blake Shelton (Duet with Gwen Stefani)

This is the second time we’ve seen “10,000 Hours” in the AMA nominees for 2020, you already know my opinion on it. Let’s just talk about the other two contenders.

I don’t know if I’m being too harsh here, but “Nobody But You” sounds exactly like how I imagine a country songs with a sprinkle of pop influence to sound like. I feel like “The Bones” is really, really good as far as songwriting goes, but I don’t know if I would classify it as country.

Album cover art for "Fully Loaded: God's Country" by Blake Shelton, featuring the nominated song, "Nobody But You".
Album cover art for "Girl" by Maren Morris featuring the nominated song, "The Bones".

So this is really difficult for me to choose because I feel like “Nobody But You” fits the “Country” category more, but “The Bones” is my favourite out of the three. We’ll go with Maren. There’s no name bias here, I promise.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – COUNTRY: “The Bones” by Maren Morris

Favourite Song – RAP/HIP-HOP

We have heard all three of these songs already:

  • “WAP” by Cardi B. ft. Megan Thee Stallion
  • “Rockstar” by DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch
  • “The Box” by Roddy Ricch
One of the more popular artists in the 2020 AMA nominees, Roddy Ricch.  The text on the image reads, "Nominated for Artist of Year, New Artist of the Year, Collaboration of the Year, Favorite Song - Pop/Rock, Favorite Male Artist - Rap/Hip-Hop, Favorite Album - Rap/Hip-Hop, Favorite Song - Rap/Hip-Hop (x2).  Vote Now"

So honestly, this was an easy pick. “The Box” was my favourite out of these choices. I feel like the production sounds really simple, but with Roddy Ricch on it, it sounds so complete. I don’t really know how to explain it, but he completes it. And the cinematic ending is just chef’s kiss.

I think I will look more into Roddy Ricch as an artist in general, I think he’s also nominated for “Favourite New Artist” or something like that, and he has an album nominated for the RAP/HIP-HOP genre as well. It’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – RAP/HIP-HOP: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Favourite Song – SOUL/R&B

Up for the 2020 AMA SOUL/R&B nominees, we have:

  • “No Guidance” by Chris Brown ft. Drake
  • “Playing Games” by Summer Walker
  • “Heartless” by The Weeknd

Okay, I know I said I’ll separate the artists from the art for this video but, even when putting that aside, I still think Chris Brown and Drake are both such low-effort artists. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

“Playing Games” is really well produced – the instrumental is so good and definitely deserves its spot on this nominee list. It really does feel soulful, the lyrics are emotional, it does feel a little nineties, but I feel like the core of most R&B still draws from that era a lot. “Heartless” is amazing too, I mean that bass line…

Album cover art for Summer Walker, featuring the song "Playing Games".
Summer Walker
Album cover art for The Weeknd, featuring the song "Heartless".
The Weeknd

This is such a tough decision for me honestly. I really like both of these songs. Because I do know “After Hours” is a contender for best album in this SOUL/R&B genre as well as in POP/ROCK, I will give my vote to Summer.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – SOUL/R&B: “Playing Games” by Summer Walker

Favourite Song – LATIN

Similar to my disclaimer about the country genre, I don’t know jack squat about Latin music other than it’s catchy and usually really entertaining because it has a classic beat pattern. So for our contestants, we have:

  • “Vete” by Bad Bunny
  • “RITMO (Bad Boys For Life)” by Black Eyed Peas x J Balvin
  • “Tusa” by KAROL G & Nicki Minaj
One of the more popular Latin genre 2020 AMA nominees, Bad Bunny.
Bad Bunny

So first, some notes. Bad Bunny’s voice sounds like he should be a hip-hop vocalist, am I wrong? I have no idea what the lyrics are saying (I only took two weeks of Spanish about 10 years ago), but the mallet motif is really catchy, the reverb-y pads in the background also add to the hip-hop fuel tank. The juxtaposition to the Latin drum beat sounds pretty catchy and I like it.

The Black Eyed Peas? That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. It’s a nice song. I’m not a huge fan of the intro, but the rest of it is fun.

“Tusa” uses strings instead of mallets like in the other two songs, which already sets it apart. KAROL G has an amazing voice. Again, I have no idea what’s being said here, but it simply feels nice. In addition, she and Nicki sound great together.

I think I’m going to have to vote for “Vete”. Out of these three, it was the only one that made me want to listen again. I’m not sure if it’s because I find so much hip-hop influence in it, but this is my article, this is my vote, so this is my pick.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – LATIN: “Vete” by Bad Bunny

AMA 2020 Album Nominees

So now we’re taking a step back and taking a look at the album picks for 2020. Before starting the research for the video, I had not listened to any of the nominated albums. Therefore, my votes will be based on my first impressions.

We’ll try to go through the albums categories quickly, since it would take forever to talk about every single song in these albums (which is 222 songs in total by the way, about 13 hours of listening). I’m just going to base my vote on the data: out of how many songs are in the album, how many caught my attention, and how many did I leave unfinished?

I did force myself to get at least half way through the song if I wanted to skip it, so I gave them all a decent chance, in my opinion.

Favourite Album – POP/ROCK

The only album with a little bit of an advantage here is “After Hours”, because I just listened to two nominated tracks from it and really loved them. But let’s look at my initial listen statistics to determine my favourite POP/ROCK album of 2020 (out of these three options).

Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "Folklore" by Taylor Swift
Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "Fine Line" by Harry Styles
Fine Line
Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "After Hours" The Weeknd
After Hours

“folklore” by Taylor Swift (16 songs)

Coming in last place with a 44% skip rate, “folklore” by Taylor Swift. Only 19% of the songs caught my attention. Not to say the rest weren’t good! But they were unfortunately a bit forgettable for me.

  • (19%) Intrigue: “exile”, “my tears ricochet”, “betty”
  • (44%) Skipped: “the 1”, “cardigan”, “mirrorball”, “seven”, “august”, “mad woman”, “peace”

“Fine Line” by Harry Styles (12 songs)

In second place, we have “Fine Line” by Harry Styles with about a 33% skip rate and 33% intrigue. This is the first I’ve heard from him since he broke off of One Direction, and I actually think this is the better direction for him to go.

  • (33%) Intrigue: “Watermelon Sugar”, “To Be So Lonely”, “She”, “Fine Line”
  • (33%) Skipped: “Cherry”, “Falling”, “Sunflower”, “Treat People With Kindness”

“After Hours” by The Weeknd (14 songs)

And finally, to the surprise of absolutely no one – on account of all aforementioned bias – in first place, “After Hours” by The Weeknd, with only a 0.7% skip rate and a nice, tasty 36% intrigue rate.

  • (36%) Intrigue: “Heartless”, “Faith”, “Blinding Lights”, “After Hours”, “Until I Bleed Out”
  • (0.7%) Skipped: “Hardest to Love”

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Album – POP/ROCK: “After Hours” by The Weeknd

Favourite Album – COUNTRY

Okay, so I know Kurtis Conner just made a video kind of making fun of country music, and there was that popular Bo Burnham bit making fun of country music, so I already had this bias in my head that I would not enjoy country music or that I would find it repetitive or cheesey or whatever.

But I do have to say that I was not mad about listening to some of these songs. Maybe because a lot of the 2020 AMA nominees are specifically written to appeal to a mainstream audience, or maybe I’m just a closeted country music lover. Who knows.

Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "Fully Loaded: God's Country" by Blake Shelton
Fully Loaded: God’s Country
Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "If I Know Me" Morgan Wallen
If I Know Me
Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "What You See Is What You Get" by Luke Combs
What You See Is What You Get

“Fully Loaded: God’s Country” by Blake Shelton (12 songs)

In last place, a 2020 AMA album nominee with a 50% skip rate and only 0.8% intrigue, “Fully Loaded: God’s Country” by Blake Shelton. It started off really strong with the first song, so I had high hopes there, but alas…

  • (0.8%) Intrigue: “God’s Country”
  • (50%) Skipped: “Nobody But You”, “Came Here to Forget”, “She’s Got a Way with Words”, “I’ll Name the Dogs”, “Turnin’ Me On”, “Tequila Sheila”

“If I Know Me” by Morgan Wallen (14 songs)

In second place, with again, a 50% skip rate, but a 21% intrigue, “If I Know Me” by Morgan Wallen. I actually did not enjoy the title track, and I felt like a lot of the lyrics were a bit misogynistic…

  • (21%) Intrigue: “The Way I Talk”, “Gone Girl”, “Not Good at Not”
  • (50%) Skipped: “Up Down”, “Had Me By Halftime”, “Whiskey Glasses”, “Whatcha Know ‘Bout That”, “Redneck Love Song”, “Little Rain”, “If I Know Me”

“What You See Is What You Get” by Luke Combs (18 songs)

And finally, the country boy who stole my heart, “What You See Is What You Get” by Luke Combs with only a 33% skip rate and a 0.5% intrigue. It was the same situation as “God’s Country”, where the first song hit me hard, but the rest were just a bit too similar to each other for my taste.

  • (0.5%) Intrigue: “Beer Never Broke My Heart
  • (33%) Skipped: “Moon Over Mexico”, “1, 2 Many”, “New Every Day”, “All Over Again”, “Nothing Like You”, “Better Together”

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Album – COUNTRY: “What You See Is What You Get” by Luke Combs

Favourite Album – RAP/HIP-HOP

I think I have some friends who listen to Lil Uzi, so I’ve seen his name pop up before, and I did vote for Roddy Ricch’s song for this genre, but other than that, I wasn’t really sure what to expect here. After listening to all three albums in a row, the results are in and i feel like I don’t give a f-

Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "Eternal Atake" by Lil Uzi Vert
Eternal Atake
Artwork for the 2020 nominated album, "My Turn" by Lil Baby
My Turn
Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial" by Roddy Ricch
Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial

“Eternal Atake” by Lil Uzi Vert (18 songs)

For third place, the 2020 AMA nominee with a 61% skip rate and 0% intrigue (oh man), “Eternal Atake” by Lil Uzi Vert. Please don’t come for me. Nothing particularly made me stop whatever I was doing to pay attention to the song. Maybe it will grow on me later. Please don’t come for me.

  • (0%) Intrigue:
  • (61%) Skipped: “Baby Pluto”, “Lo Mein”, “POP”, “You Better Move”, “Homecoming”, “Bigger Than Life”, “Chrome Heart Tags”, “Bust Me”, “Urgency”, “Venetia”, “Futsal Shuffle 2020”

“My Turn” by Lil Baby (20 songs)

In second place, “My Turn” by Lil Baby, with only a 2% skip rate, but also only a 2% intrigue rate. I guess that’s what happens when you give me a 20-track album to listen to, Lil Baby. Lil Baby man.

  • (2%) Intrigue: “Same Thing”, “Forever”, “Sum 2 Prove”, “We Should”
  • (2%) Skipped: “Get Ugly”, “No Sucker”, “Gang Signs”, “Solid”

“Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial” by Roddy Ricch (16 songs)

And in first place, with a 13% skip rate, but a 31% intrigue rate, “Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial” by Roddy Ricch. Some of these were absolute bangers, I liked it a lot.

  • (31%) Intrigue: “Intro”, “The Box”, “Boom Boom Room”, “High Fashion”, “War Baby”
  • (13%) Skipped: “Moon Walkin”, “Peta”

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Song – RAP/HIP-HOP: “Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial” by Roddy Ricch

Favourite Album – SOUL/R&B

Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "Hot Pink" by Doja Cat
Hot Pink
Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "Over It" by Summer Walker
Over It
Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "After Hours" by The Weeknd
After Hours

“Hot Pink” by Doja Cat (12 songs)

In third place, a 33% skip rate and 25% intrigue for “Hot Pink” by Doja Cat. Maybe there was a little bias because I went into it expecting a lot more dreamy pop similar to her viral track “Say So”.

  • (25%) Intrigue: “Rules”, “Say So”, “Streets”
  • (33%) Skipped: “Cyber Sex”, “Shine”, “Better Than Me”, “Juicy”

“Over It” by Summer Walker (18 songs)

In second, “Over It” by Summer Walker, with only an 11% skip rate, which is surprising to my attention span for an 18-track album. I generally enjoyed it a lot.

  • (28%) Intrigue: “Body”, “Playing Games”, “Come Thru”, “Tonight”, “Anna Mae”
  • (11%) Skipped: “Me”, “Just Might”

“After Hours” by The Weeknd (14 songs)

I didn’t listen to “After Hours” again, but instead used the same percentages that i gave it for the POP/ROCK genre. A 0.7% skip rate and 36% intrigue. Ugh its just so good.

  • (36%) Intrigue: “Heartless”, “Faith”, “Blinding Lights”, “After Hours”, “Until I Bleed Out”
  • (0.7%) Skipped: “Hardest to Love”

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Album – SOUL/R&B: “After Hours” by The Weeknd

Favourite Album – LATIN

Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "Las que no iban a salir" by Bad Bunny
Las que no iban a salir
Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "Emmanuel" by Anuel AA
Artwork for one of the 2020 AMA album nominees, "YHLQMDLG" by Bad Bunny

“Las que no iban a salir” by Bad Bunny (10 songs)

So, for last place with a 1% skip rate but also only a 1% intrigue, “Las que no iban a salir” by Bad Bunny. Which is fine, I mean there were only 10 songs, it was the shortest album of the entire 2020 AMA nominees list.

  • (1%) Intrigue: “PA’ ROMPERLA”
  • (1%) Skipped: “MÁS DE UNA CITA”

“Emmanuel” by Anuel AA (22 songs)

In second, “Emmanuel” by Anuel AA, with a 14% skip rate and 23% intrigue. A lot of the songs were really enjoyable and fun to listen to while working.

  • (23%) Intrigue: “Narcos”, “Así Soy Yo”, “El Problema”, “Bandido”, “Tocándote”
  • (14%) Skipped: “Fútbol & Rumba”, “Antes y Después”, “Mi Vieja”

“YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny (20 songs)

And finally, in first place, “YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny, with only a 1% skip rate, but a nice 40% intrigue rate. I looked up what the title stands for, and it’s the Spanish abbreviation for “I do whatever I want”, which coincidentally, is also the description of my YouTube channel.

  • (40%) Intrigue: “La Difícil”, “Pero Ya No”, “Que Malo”, “Vete”, “Ignorantes”, “25/8”, “P FKN R”, “<3”
  • (1%) Skipped: “La Santa”, “Puesto Pa’ Guerrial”

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Album – LATIN: “YHLQMDLG” by Bad Bunny

AMA 2020 Music Video Nominees

The final segment is voting for the “favourite music video” category. I haven’t seen any of these music videos yet either. Maybe I’m the one who’s out of touch.

The videos up for the vote are:

  • “Say So” by Doja Cat
  • “Life Is Good” by Future ft. Drake
  • “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
  • “cardigan” by Taylor Swift
  • “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd

I wanted to show you my live reactions to watching everything for the first time, but honestly, my expression did not change much throughout the entire thing. I would make the worst reaction channel.

The only music video that I had a genuine reaction to was “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, and not in a good way. I have pretty bad car anxiety. I think it’s getting better, but even just watching movies (or music videos) with fast cars freaks me out so bad. Trigger warning: I almost cried from watching this music video. I was really rooting for “Blinding Lights”, so I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t like it. I had no idea there were going to be cars here.

I think that the “Say So” and “Rain On Me” music videos were both pretty good, but also kind of generic, whereas “cardigan” and “Life is Good” were more story-driven. It’s hard to choose a winner out of these four since it feels like there are two separate categories: story and concept.

For story, I think “Life is Good” makes more sense, and for concept, I actually really enjoyed “Rain on Me” for the iconic costumes and makeup. I think I’m going to have to give my vote to “Life is Good”.

Maryn’s pick for Favorite Music Video: “Life is Good” by Future ft. Drake

AMA Nominees 2020 – Final Thoughts

Thanks for checking out my post! And feel free to check out the video as well (linked at the top).

“The American Music Awards, the world’s largest fan-voted award show, is seen in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Nominees are based on key fan interactions – as reflected on the Billboard charts – including streaming, album and digital song sales, radio airplay and social activity. These measurements are tracked by Billboard and its data partners MRC Data and Next Big Sound, and reflect the time period of Sept. 27, 2019, through Sept. 24, 2020. The American Music Awards winners are voted entirely by fans.”

The AMAs

I guess I generally haven’t paid too much attention to the Billboard top 100, which is where I think these nominations derive from. I don’t actually listen to much music in general, which I’ve noted in my previous post, but I’m looking to expand and refine my music taste as much as I can.

The AMA Nominees 2020 might seem a little “main stream” to some, but that doesn’t make it inherently bad music. I came across several tracks during this little experiment that I truly came to love, and will continue to listen to for quite some time. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss what you don’t know.