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One Direction comes out on top at American Music Awards

One Direction on the American Music Awards on Nov. 23, 2014. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — One Direction won the American Music Award for artist of the year.

Competition in the category was tough, with Iggy Azalea, Beyoncé, Luke Bryan, Eminem, Imagine Dragons, John Legend, Lorde, Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams up for the honour.

The final prize of the night was the third award the British boy band claimed during Sunday’s ceremony. One Direction also claimed trophies for favorite pop/rock duo or group and pop/rock album for Midnight Memories.

Breakthrough newcomer Iggy Azalea won her first award ever at the American Music Awards, taking down rap heavyweights Eminem and Canada’s Drake.

READ MORE: Red carpet fashion winners and losers

Azalea won favorite rap/hip-hop album for her debut, The New Classic.

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“This award is the first award I’ve ever won in my entire life, and it means so much to me that it is for best hip-hop because that’s what inspired me to move to America and pursue my dreams, and it’s what helped me when I was a teenager to escape and to get through my life and to better times,” the 24-year-old Australian rapper said Sunday at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, as her mentor T.I. stood beside her.

“And it means so much that I can stand here against Eminem and Drake and come out with this,” she continued.

Azalea was the lead nominee with six, including artist of the year. She performed her massive hit, “Fancy,” which is nominated for single of the year, as well as her new song, “Beg for It.”

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Taylor Swift kicked off the AMAs as a mad woman and man eater by feeding a boy a poisonous apple, holding burning roses and giving crazy eyes during a performance of her song about her dating life.

Swift sang her new No. 1 hit, “Blank Space.” She was aggressive, grabbing her male dancers by their blazers and singing in character on bended knee. She even removed part of her dress to reveal a shimmery, leg-revealing gold number. She later received the first-ever Dick Clark Award for Excellence, presented by Diana Ross.

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Ariana Grande took the stage to sing lounge-y, piano-versions of her upbeat hits “Problem” and “Break Free.” She followed that with a duet of her latest hit, “Love Me Harder,” with Toronto’s The Weeknd, as Grande’s older brother jumped up in joy.

Swift was also a cheerleader when her friend Lorde thrashed and sang onstage.

Sam Smith, who also performed, won favorite male artist – pop/rock.

“Genuinely from my heart I didn’t think I was going to be winning this. This is unreal,” the British singer said, who beat Pharrell and John Legend. “But mainly, thank you to my fan base. You guys are amazing, and last year I wrote an album about being lonely and tonight, I couldn’t feel further from lonely, so thank you so much.”

Host Pitbull followed Swift’s performance with a string of jokes, and he also performed with R&B singer Ne-Yo. The night will feature a slew of A-Listers onstage, including Garth Brooks, Fergie, Selena Gomez, Lil Wayne, Lorde and Nicki Minaj.

In addition to The Weeknd, Canadians on stage include performers MAGIC! and presenters Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec and Nathan Fillion.

BELOW: See some of the Canadians at the American Music Awards.

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MAGIC!. Getty Images
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Robert Herjavec. Getty Images
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Nathan Fillion. Getty Images

The only two Canadian nominees came up empty. MAGIC! was up for single of the year (for “Rude”) and Drake had nods in the rap/hip-hop artist and albums categories.

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Bryan, who was named entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards this month, took home favorite male artist – country.

“I wanna thank God above for letting me tour night in and night out on the road. I want to thank the fans for making it possible to stand up here and win the awards,” he said, also thanking “my band, my crew, bus driver, momma and them, you know.”

Katy Perry won favorite female artist – pop/rock, and accepted her award from Australia where she is on tour. Carrie Underwood was named favorite female artist – country and Beyonce’s self-titled album won favorite album – soul/R&B

The soundtrack for Frozen, the year’s top-selling album, won top soundtrack.

Here is the full list of winners:

Artist of the year: One Direction

New artist of the year: 5 Seconds of Summer

Single of the year: Katy Perry feat. Juicy J, “Dark Horse”

Pop/rock female artist: Katy Perry

Pop/rock male artist: Sam Smith

Pop/rock band, duo or group: One Direction

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Pop/rock album: One Direction, Midnight Memories

Country female artist: Carrie Underwood

Country male artist: Luke Bryan

Country band, duo or group: Florida Georgia Line

Country album: Brantley Gilbert, Just As I Am

Rap/hip-hop artist: Iggy Azalea

Rap/hip-hop album: Iggy Azalea, The New Classic

Soul/R&B female artist: Beyoncé

Soul/R&B male artist: John Legend

Soul/R&B album: Beyoncé, Beyoncé

Latin artist: Enrique Iglesias

Alternative rock: Imagine Dragons

Adult contemporary: Katy Perry

Contemporary inspirational: Casting Crowns

Electronic dance music: Calvin Harris

Soundtrack: Frozen

– with files by Global News

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