LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Singer Jennifer Lopez (C) performs onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)2013 Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Host Pitbull speaks onstage during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)2013 Getty Images
America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift swept the American Music Awards on Sunday taking home five awards including artist of the year for the third time.
The Latino presence was front-and-center throughout the show – from the opening with host Pitbull giving an amusing, but cringe-worthy, twerking lesson to Marc Anthony winning favorite Latin artist to Jennifer Lopez shining in a spectacular tribute to the “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz.
Jennifer Lopez left fans and stars alike with mouths wide open and on their feet with a potpourri performance of Celia Cruz’s greatest hits including “Quimbara,” “La vida es un carnaval” y “La bemba colorá.”
The high-energy performance began with the singer alone on stage in a long, sparkly black dress which she took off to reveal a colorful dress with a frilly skirt which she took off in turn, finishing dressed in a shimmering silver singlet.
Lopez, 44, was joined by dozens of dancers for a high-paced salsa that finished with “Dancing with the Stars” alum Maksim Chmerkovskiy lifting a horizontal JLo over his head.
“Azúcar! Azúcar!” Lopez yelled throughout the performance, Cruz’s signature saying. “Arriba, Celia!” she added at the end with the public on its feet.
The nominees for favorite Latin artist included Romeo Santos and Prince Royce along with Lopez's ex, Marc Anthony.
“There is a saying, just cause you’re alive doesn’t mean you’re living,” Anthony said when he received the award from Pitbull. “I just want to say: Don’t forget to live.”
Pitbull also lit up the stage with a performance Ke$ha.
Other Latinos present included Zoe Saldaña, Daisy Fuentes, Naya Rivera and the new “Bachelor,” Juan Pablo Galavis.
Christina Aguilera performed her new single “Say Something” with A Great Big World, while pop singer Katy Perry performed “Unconditionally” dressed as Japanese Geisha.
Justin Timberlake, who performed “Drink You Away,” took home three awards – favorite pop/rock male artist, favorite soul/R&B male artist and favorite soul/R&B album for “The 20/20 Experience.”
One Direction and rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis each won two awards – their firsts – while Rihanna took home the show’s first ever Icon Award along with the award for favorite soul/R&B female artist.
Miley Cyrus ended the show with a performance of “Wrecking Ball” that didn't include any foam fingers, fortunately, but did pair her with a baffling video of a lip-synching cat.
Other winners included Nickelodeon's Ariana Grande, who was named favorite new artist, Florida Georgia Line won single of the year for “Cruise,” Luke Bryan won favorite country artist and Lady Antebellum was selected as the year's favorite country band, group or duo.
Follow Lucia I. Suarez on Twitter @luciasuarezsang