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Rihanna, happy to be back, hits AMA stage

By Alan Duke, CNN
  • NEW: Michael Jackson wins two categories, including favorite pop/rock male artist
  • Rihanna, Janet Jackson perform at Sunday's American Music Awards show
  • Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Adam Lambert also among artists to perform Sunday
  • Michael Jackson up for five awards, including artist of the year

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Rihanna took the red carpet and stage by storm Sunday night, nine months after she was severely beaten by boyfriend Chris Brown on the eve of the Grammys.

"I'm really happy right now," Rihanna told CNN as she arrived at Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre for the 37th annual American Music Awards show.

While she was not nominated for award Sunday, Rihanna used the show to promote "Rated R," her fourth album, which is set for release Monday. She performed one of her new songs, "Hard."

Janet Jackson opened the show with a medley of her greatest hits, all from her recently released compilation, "Janet: Number Ones."

The most unusual performance may have been by Lady Gaga, who used a microphone stand to break into a large glass box to get to a piano, which began burning as she played.

The most-out-of-sync honor may be for Jennifer Lopez, whose lips did not quite match her words as she danced in a boxing ring with six male dancers. To make matters worse, Lopez fell during the dance.

Michael Jackson's oldest brother, Jermaine, took the stage to accept when the late pop star won in two categories: favorite male soul/rhythm and blues artist and favorite pop/rock male artist.

"The message that Michael had will live on forever, and that's he saw good in everyone and he wanted everyone to do good, and he always started with love. Start with love, and let's love each other. We miss you, Michael. You'll always be in our heart."

The awards put Michael Jackson's AMA trophy total at 23, the most for any artist.

Winners are determined by online fan voting.

Beyonce, who did not attend the awards show, won the favorite female soul/rhythm and blues artist, beating out Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson.

"I don't expect to win, to be honest," Hilson told CNN on the red carpet. "I'm just happy to be here."

The show honored Whitney Houston, who performed "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" from her 2009 album "I Look to You," with an International Award of Excellence.

The award, according to an inscription read by actor and presenter Samuel L. Jackson, is given "in recognition of her worldwide success exemplified by her international record sales, radio airplay in countries all over the world, live performances that span the globe, and popularity that knows no borders or boundaries."

Other winners included:

• Keith Urban for favorite country male artist

• Rascal Flatts for favorite country band

• Taylor Swift for favorite pop or rock female and favorite country female artist

• Black Eyed Peas for favorite pop or rock group

• Green Day for favorite rock artist

• Beyonce for favorite soul/R&B female artist.