Whether it was a subtle shoutout or an in-your-face call to action, here’s a few moments during the American Music Awards that got a little political.
Awards shows like the American Music Awards are generally about partying, taking home statues, and sometimes a feud or two.
But this October, they’re also about politics.
With the midterms around the corner (and voter registration deadlines looming in many states), AMA host Tracee Ellis Ross put her clothing where her priorities are. In one of her (many) outfit changes, the “Black-ish” star detoured from official proceedings to note that she’s registered to vote, while wearing an “I am a voter” t-shirt.
She wasn’t the only one who brought politics onstage. During his acceptance speech for Soul/R&B Male, Khalid added in a few words of support to Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat who is running to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas. “Before I go, shout out to the 915, to El Paso, Texas, shout out, Beto. Thank you,” Khalid said.
Then there was Taylor Swift, who kicked off Tuesday’s show with a smokin’ performance of “I Did Something Bad” in front of a massive snake. She jumped into the political fray towards the end of the show.
After winning Artist of the Year, the pop star noted that the AMAs are voted on by the people. “You know what else is voted on by the people?” Swift said on stage. “The midterm elections on Nov. 6. Get out and vote!”
On Sunday, Swift endorsed her first political candidate, while denouncing Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, saying Blackburn’s “voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”
In her letter on Instagram, Swift threw her support behind Democrat Phil Bredesen, as well as incumbent Democrat Jim Cooper in the House race. She also newly encouraged her followers to register and vote.
Swift, who noticeably stayed mum during the 2016 presidential election about her political leanings, says that’s changed.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” the 28-year-old pop star wrote.
And she has sway: Swift’s pronouncement has since inspired 65,000 people to register to vote.
Tuesday was a packed show for Swift, who also won Tour of the Year and Best Pop/Rock Album.
“Please grab your friends and tell them to vote. Now is the time. If you believe in equality for women, for people of color, for the LGBTQ community. If you believe that climate change is real and that we need to do something about it,” the comedian said onstage before presenting an award. “And you can go to vote.org like Taylor Swift told you to,” he added.
Afterwards, Eichner noted those remarks were all his. “Went off script at the #AMAs to remind young people to vote and was rewarded with a hug from the awesome @ShawnMendes. NOW LET’S VOTE, PEOPLE!!!” he tweeted.
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