Our 12 Favorite Things At The 2012 American Music Awards (40th Anniversary!!) (VIDEOS)

Ke$ha takes her “Die Young” cult onstage at the 2012 American Music Awards.

You guys know we’re pretty into over pop music around here — like, we regularly lose our minds over how good One Direction‘s Harry Styles looks in a blazer (it’s REALLY good), we spend hours speculating over how many red dresses Taylor Swift owns, we spray whatever beverage we were consuming through our noses over the latest chapter in R. Kelly‘s “Trapped In The Closet” saga… you get the point. Obviously the extent to which we looove pop music and celebs includes every music-themed award show, more specifically, tonight’s American Music Awards! (It’s the 40th anniversary…CRAZY.) So just in case you didn’t get a chance to watch tonight’s show (in which case, there’s the door…j/k), don’t worry your pretty little heads — we’ve got you covered. We sat with bated breath, waiting, watching, and hoping for some UNFORGETTABLE moments from tonight’s show (on from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on ABC), and you bet your Belieber that we found some. So, without further ado, check out 12 of our favorite, most unforgettable moments from tonight’s AMAs!

1.) Usher reminds America that he’s a sick dancer: Remember Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna” era? Like, the fact that he basically was a Justin Bieber-esque music industry wunderkind? Well, it’s been a few years, Usher’s now in his 30s, but heck if that kid still can’t dance is a$$ off. Opening the show with a mashup of “Numb,” “Climax,” and “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” Usher practically set fire to the stage with his moves.¬†

2.) Justin Bieber wins big, gets smooched by Jenny McCarthy: Upon winning the AMA for Best Pop/Rock Artist, Justin said, “I want to say this is for all the haters who thought that I was just here for one or two years. I feel like I’m going to be here for a very long time,” before moving on to thank his mom. As if that wasn’t enough, toward the end of the night, a very enthusiastic Jenny McCarthy planted a few kisses on Justin while presenting him with the Favorite Pop/Rock album AMA, which prompted JB to say, “Wow, I feel violated right now.” (So do we, Justin. So do we.) Welp, between all those Victoria’s Secret models and sexy older lady kisses, life ain’t too bad right now.

3.) Carly Rae Jepsen performs “This Kiss” and “Call Me Maybe”: Joining her new single “This Kiss” with the much-loved (and much-memed) “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen earned herself a standing ovation by a) singing two hits from her new record “Kiss,” and b) looking too cute for words. Backed by a slew of talented backup dancers, Carly strutted around a rather ’80s-inspired stage, including three well-placed (and neon-colored) UK phone booths (taking cues from One Direction’s “Today” performance, we see). Oh, and we think the award for “most adorable” goes to Carly.

4.) Kelly Clarkson performs ALL of her hits: Barely an hour into the show, Kelly Clarkson marched onstage and KILLED everything with a STUNNING medley of songs from her upcoming Greatest Hits — Chapter One album, including¬† “Since U Been Gone,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Catch My Breath,” and “Miss Independent.” Introduced by “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, Kelly opened her set paying homage to her roots on the singing competition as she sang in front of a few “judges” and wore a contestant’s placard. Just like the old days!! We can’t believe it’s been more than a decade since Kelly blew our minds apart on “Idol,” but clearly, the years have been good to our girl.

5.) Ke$ha takes her “Die Young” cult onstage: We’ve already seen Ke$ha’s tribal tribute to the Illuminati in her “Die Young” video, and apparently it’s portable. Donning a gold-encrusted bodysuit, Ke$ha opened her performance atop a sharp-looking (literally) “Game Of Thrones”-ish chair surrounded by a group of cult members dancers in face paint. Though the entire performance was inspired, the best part had to be when Ke$ha and her dancers pounded a set of tribal drums onstage in unison to finish off the set. The camera panned to the audience, and everyone looked IMPRESSED.

+ Watch a teaser of Ke$ha performing “Die Young” at the 2012 AMAs.

6.) No Doubt performs “Looking Hot“: Could somebody please tell us how Gwen Stefani and the rest of No Doubt manage to look and sound JUST AS AMAZING as the day Tragic Kingdom came out?! Like, almost 13 years ago?! Matching in all black and white, Gwen effortlessly took over the stage in a cute houndstooth jacket, high-waisted leather pants, and bright red lipstick while the rest of the band played with some remarkably tangible energy. You can always tell when a band is truly happy to be onstage, and No Doubt looked truly pleased. Also, the best part of their performance had to be when a collection of horn players joined the crew onstage, seemingly paying homage to No Doubt’s ska roots. In fact, we half expected some extras to skank across the stage à la The Mighty Mighty Bosstones!

Check out more unforgettable moments from the 2012 American Music Awards after the jump!

7.) Taylor Swift performs “I Knew You Were Trouble“: Yeah, we feel pretty safe in saying that Taylor Swift gave the performance of a lifetime with her rendition of the dubstep-tinged “I Knew You Were Trouble” (her FIRST time performing the single on TV). Transitioning from a crisp white, innocent-looking dress to a deep red (RED!) bustier, Taylor’s set took on a “Phantom Of The Opera” approach, complete with chandeliers, vintage formal wear, staircases — some dramatic stuff. We think it was also her first time looking downright tough instead of her normal sweeter-than-sweet cat-video-making persona. We like, Taylor!

+ Watch a teaser of Taylor Swift performing “I Knew You Were Trouble” at the 2012 AMAs.

8.) Nicki Minaj performs “Freedom”: We always felt confident in Barbz’ ability to spit some major rhymes, but tonight we were blown away by Nicki’s hardcore hip-hop abilities (like, strip away those wigs and cray cray outfits and you’ll have a Missy Elliot-level talented female rapper). Debuting her single “Freedom” on a white winter wonderland-esque stage set (we half expected a white stag or unicorn to come wondering out like in her “Va Va Voom” video), Nicki delivered rhymes in a bright pink wig and all-white puffy coat, as the snowy scene began to actually snow.

9.) Pink interpretive dances to “Try”: Pink must’ve known how much we loved her interpretive dance video for “Try,” because she basically brought it onstage to the AMAs! Pink danced with a super-handsome piece of man candy. The duo danced all over the stage with the singer in a familiar looking green, billowy dress. And when we say “danced all around,” we mean threw each other into pieces of furniture, broke said pieces of furniture, started onstage fires, and finally emerged covered in paint. Because of course!

10.) Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!: We have to say the obligatory “Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!!” because oh my god, how we’ve longed to see the Backstreet Boys all back together again on TV!! Don’t get us wrong; we love ourselves some One Direction and The Wanted, but there really is nothing like seeing BSB standing in a row just like the days of yore. Presenting the Old Navy New Artist Of The Year award, they guys made a crack at how they’d performed on and won some AMAs in their day (in two decades, in fact), which ::collar tug:: means they might be a little on the older end of the boy band spectrum.

11.) Justin Bieber performs “As Long As You Love Me” and “Beauty And A Beat”: Justin started his performance off in a minimal way, with only him singing an acoustic rendition of “As Long As You Love Me” (P.S., wouldn’t it have been AWESOME if the Backstreet Boys joined him onstage to sing THEIR OWN rendition of “As Long As You Love Me”?? Like, an ONSTAGE “AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME” MASHUP?! IF ONLY.) Anyway, acoustic Justin soon gave way to a rowdier rendition of “Beauty And A Beat” with Nicki Minaj joining him (in her third wig of the night).

+ Watch a teaser of Justin Bieber performing “Beauty And A Beat” featuring Nicki Minaj.

12.) Stevie Wonder performs a tribute to Dick Clark: Paying homage to Dick Clark, Stevie Wonder performed a stunning tribute to the award show’s late creator with a mashup of “Sir Duke,” “My Cherie Amour,” and “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” as pictures of Dick posing with various artists flashed in the background — beautiful.

Lucky 13.) Psy leads the entire AMA audience in a chorus of “Gangnam Style”: Dressed in a sparkly black suit, K-pop sensation Psy somehow managed to morph “Gangnam Style” into MC Hammer‘s “Too Legit To Quit,” finishing off his set (with Hammer himself!!) in a chorus of “Too Legit To Quit”s. And yes, we definitely spied Jenny McCarthy and Heidi Klum dancing in the audience, and no, we will never get tired of “Gangnam Style.”

+ Watch a teaser of Psy performing “Gangnam Style” with MC Hammer at the 2012 American Music Awards.

Check out more 2012 American Music Awards coverage including must-see photos and red carpet style, and read up on the night’s winners.

Photo credit: Getty Images