Lady Gaga, Pink and Diana Ross helped women dominate the American Music Awards with powerful performances, despite men being overwhelmingly favoured in the nominations.
Former One Direction singer Niall Horan scooped new artist of the year, Bruno Mars won favourite artist and Coldplay won tour of the year at the Los Angeles Ceremony on Sunday night.
Few women were nominated in categories in which they faced men, but the stars helped shift the conversation to put women centre-stage as Hollywood reels in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal.
Pink and Kelly Clarkson opened the ceremony with a cover of R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts, before host and Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross said the nominations reflect a year of music in the US.
“A year where brave women have started a movement as we own our experiences, our bodies and our lives. You heard me?” she added.
Her mother, Diana Ross, was handed a lifetime achievement accolade and closed the show at the Microsoft Theatre with a medley of her hits.
In a recorded message sitting alongside her husband and former president Barack Obama, Michelle Obama celebrated Ross for reaching “folks of every race, background and walk of life”.
Imagine Dragons won the first award of the night, for favourite pop or rock group, and singer Dan Reynolds said the US had faced too many divisions in the past year.
“This is the country I know, which is of powerful women, talking about our women, talking about empowering our LGBTQ youth,” he added.
Lady Gaga performed from her show in Washington DC and was presented with favourite female pop or rock artist.
“You just remember, that if you feel different, or you feel not understood, don’t you dare give up on who you are – you fight like hell for what you believe in,” she told her fans.
Selena Gomez also impressed fans with her first live performance since she had a kidney transplant.
No women were selected for top categories including artist of the year, video of the year or tour of the year.
Organisers said the nominations are based on music sales, radio play, streaming figures as well as interactions on social media and tours.
Halsey criticised the gender balance as a “missed opportunity”, adding she was “really disappointed to hear near exclusively male names”.
She received two nominations for her collaboration with The Chainsmokers on Closer but was not up for a solo award despite having a number one album in the US this year.