Ladies of The American Music Awards

Girls not only run the world, it looks like we run the American Music Awards, too. Since it began in 1973, female artists have been owning the stage and outdoing all other performers with memorable costumes, captivating songs, and unforgettable dance moves. From bad girl Rihanna to Sasha Fierce herself, some of the most indelible performances in AMA history have been by our favorite lady musicians.
Rihanna rocking out. Courtesy of Dick Clark Productions
Rihanna performing "Wait Your Turn" and "Hard" in 2009
Before she was "Talking That Talk," RiRi was "Rated R." To promote her then-new album, she appeared on the AMA stage complete with a (fake) neck and chest tattoo that spelled out "RATEDR" and a white bondage body suit with bullet stud accents. This dangerous look cemented her "Good Girl Gone Bad" image and has to be one of our favorite performance looks of all time. She looks like if Cat Woman and Leeloo from "The 5th Element" had a lovechild--in a good way.

Janet Jackson singing "Control" in 1987
Prior to her controversial Super Bowl mishap and before her infamous topless Rolling Stone cover there was 1987 and "Control." Though not as showy perhaps as some other female acts on this list, her girl power-fueled jam and innovative dance moves that rivaled her brother’s moonwalk (her choreographer was a pre-"American Idol" fame Paula Abdul). The strong-shouldered black power pantsuit (it was the '80s, guys) that she and her dancers all wore proved that she was doing it her way.

Beyonce singing "Single Ladies" in 2008
Now put your hands (and your ponytail) up. Though nothing can compare to her iconic black bodysuit from the "Single Ladies" video, this two-toned top is incredible in that it somehow manages to be both epic stagewear and completely street-ready, while also effectively evoking the black and white theme of the music video. Beyonce performed her hit single on stage with only two backup dancers (one of which was a pre-"Glee" Heather Morris), her powerful vocals, and those sweet moves, proving that sometimes less is more.

Jennifer Lopez doing a medley of hits including "Papi" and "On The Floor" in 2011
But there are definitely times when more is more. Jennifer Lopez wowed the audience in 2011 with multiple on-stage costume changes, each one more elaborate than the next. She first appeared in a floor length, ombre leopard print gown complete with matching cape and big hair, but halfway through she dramatically switched it out for the spangly and fringed bodysuit that was hiding beneath. It's no secret that J.Lo loves rocking risque looks and stripped down even more to dance with Pitbull for a show that no one will soon forget.

Whitney Houston's live medley in 1994
The incomparable Houston sang three songs that night, but it was her record of eight AMA awards that truly made history. With the controversy surrounding her later life and tragic death, it's easy to forget that the singer is, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, the most awarded female act of all time. And for good reason--her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy," "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," and "I Have Nothing," is perfection personified.

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