1 of 10
Most Pleasant Surprise
Offering up a big band retool of her single ''Mr. Know It All,'' Kelly Clarkson revisited the magic that first got America's attention during her victorious season on American Idol. From her throwback styling to her timeless power riffs (and even a Newsies reference for good measure!), Clarkson was easily one of the night's standout performers.
2 of 10
Worst in White
Christina Aguilera's ill-fitting bandage dress was an unfortunate choice, to say the least, but Justin Bieber's ensemble was the white cranberry on top of a stale fashion fruitcake. As for his rendition of ''Under the Mistletoe''... where to start? The Biebs was definitely not in good voice, the glow-stick set design (in its first appearance of many throughout night) was lame in that bad '80s mall music video way, and don't even get me started on the fact that the song is reggae. But it all really comes down to that suit. A cow died for that, y'all.
3 of 10
Best Fashion Over Function
Her hair may have been the most understated she's ever worn it, but that was where Nicki Minaj's flirtation with subtlety ended. Whether it was when she popped her amped-up derriere in her opening performance of ''Turn Me On'' and ''Super Bass'' or the fact that she had to be assisted to the stage, Gaga-style, to collect her awards because of her over-the-top heels, let's just say, ''Nicki, you had us at speaker booty.''
4 of 10
Worst Product Placement
Jennifer Lopez's medley of ''Until It Beats No More,'' ''Papi,'' and ''On the Floor'' got the biggest crowd reaction of the night, and her transition from leopard angel to writhing sparkle vixen was a win for everyone involved. That said, the shoehorning of her Fiat commercial into the middle of the performance was distracting at best, egregious at worst.
5 of 10
Most Heartfelt Set
From start to finish, Chris Brown's performance packed the most overall punch. During ''All Back,'' he gave Florence Welch a run for her money on the warble factor and proved to be stiff competition for Chris Martin's monopoly on frenetic stage-jumping, yet he still sounded good. His gut-wrenching performance of the ballad quickly transitioned to a stylish Michael Jackson-inspired performance of ''Say It With Me'' in which Brown showed off his on-point dance moves and impressive acrobatic skills. Say what you will about him, Brown owned that stage.
6 of 10
It's a truth universally acknowledged that a network in possession of a wealth of stars will foist them on awards shows, so we can look past the randomness of Suburgatory cast members introducing Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert showing up presumably for the sole purpose of making the night's most blatant yet oblique crack about his 2009 scandal, and Vanessa Lachey handing out the night's biggest award... but why were Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley there? Other than to read the votes tabulation process as if it were the side effect of Valtrex, then present the Best Country Album award to a band that Kelley's brother (Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum) is not in? Maybe Heigl is still doing penance for her inglorious exit from Grey's Anatomy.
7 of 10
Best Dynamic Duo
Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith came a close second during their bro-groove to Pitbull and Marc Anthony's ''Rain Over Me,'' but it was BFFs Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez who stole the night with their unfailing pep. In a show that was otherwise sparse on reaction shots (most of which were a half step above eye-rolling discomfort), the teen sensations danced, sang, and laughed from minute one, most delightfully when Swift said something (naughty?) to prompt a belly laugh from Gomez during Lopez's dramatic Best Latin Artist acceptance speech.
8 of 10
Most Crowded Performance
You know the world is upside down when Katy Perry and Mary J. Blige make for the most relatively understated acts of the evening, but who would have guessed that Enrique Iglesias' medley of ''I Like How It Feels/Tonight I'm Lovin' You'' would be the de facto Everything Bagel of musical performances? There was a thunderously stomping choir, an LMFAO look-alike band, a Pink Floyd laser light show, and dancers bouncing on trampolines. Perhaps Iglesias plans his staging using an inverse ratio to the complexity of his lyrics?
9 of 10
Worst Virtual Performance
Given his experience as a hologram, you'd think will.i.am would have nailed it when he tapped Mick Jagger to make a virtual cameo in ''T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),'' the guys' collab with Jennifer Lopez. Instead, a syncing malfunction made it look like will.i.am ripped some old footage of Jagger off YouTube and threw it up on the AMAs screen at the last minute. The world premiere of will.i.am's first solo single had some cool staging (albeit a little Kanye at the '08 VMAs-meets-TRON: Legacy), but the Jagger jumble was a real letdown.
10 of 10
Best 'I Just Had An Aneurysm' Performance
LMFAO closed the night with their trademark understatement. Their ''Party Rock Anthem/Sexy And I Know It'' medley tore the roof off the place, most notably when Bieber threw on some highlighter yellow zebra pants and goofy danced (perhaps in repentance for his earlier performance). And that's without mentioning David Hasselhoff making an uncomfortably thrust-y, smiley-face-boxer-clad appearance. On second thought, probably best not to mention that...