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Luke Bryan




I had the pleasure of being able to attend the American Music Awards where I was once again reunited with the dynamo Max Emerson. I was staying at the JW Marriott at LA Live so it was walking distance to the theater; the mood was set even before we left our hotel as the balcony overlooked the red carpet. As with most things weather related, you can’t control it! I would have loved to use that balcony, but everything was soaking due to the torrential downpour. The hotel quickly ran out of umbrellas to give to guests, it wouldn’t have been much of an issue, but I was wearing satin pants and velvet shoes so I desperately needed an umbrella. Luckily the hotel was able to find me one, even their gift shop was sold out!

Max arrived just in time as I was finishing getting dressed and for us to head down to our reservation at Katsuya. We were wearing some epic looks but I will write about that separately. It’s my favorite sushi place that I only get to have when I am in LA, unless I randomly  happen to be in Dubai and stumble upon one like I did in 2013. Katsuya is the restaurant that got me into sushi, so it was nice to be able to have my favorite cocktail, their Katsuya Fresh infused with English cumber and lime again. When we were in NYC, Max hosted a remarkable event that raised money for the Ali Forney Center, a cause both of us support. He had left a light-saber in my hotel room (don’t ask), and so I brought it back to him in LA. The food was fantastic as always and the conversation was even more fun and engaging, and we had a really funny father and daughter sitting next to us who would chime in here and there. The dad asked Max what cologne I was wearing while I was in the bathroom, and was very excited to find out thank me for letting him know that is was Tom Ford Ombre Leather 16!

When I looked at the clock and realized we had fifteen minutes till we had to be seated, I paid the bill and managed to get a video stabbing Max with his flashing light-saber, only later to have it confiscated by security at the venue. It had its journey, it lived a good life, hopefully there is a burly security guard practicing his force somewhere. I can get lost in time when Max is regaling me with his stories, so we barely made it in time to be seated and then the night began.

The show was fantastic, Bruno Mars kicked it off with 24kt Magic engaging and pumping up the crowd and was broadcast live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles and hosted by Gigi Hadid and Jay Pharaoh. There were certain performers that I was very excited to see, The Weeknd, Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots. I kept betting Max on who would win in the categories and I am pretty sure he beat me with the predictions. I thought Gigi Hadid’s Melania Trump impression was hilarious, was surprised and excited that Sara and Erin Foster of Barely Famous (you have to check their show out on VH1!) presented an award, and was happy for Zayn for winning the award for Best New Artist. But my favorite part was witnessing Chrissy Teigen’s post-election discontent manifested with F-bombs heard around the world. Those watching at home it was obviously cut out by the censor, but as she introduced her husband John Legend she made a remark that made me laugh so hard. She recants how he makes great breakfast sandwiches (a nod to her cookbook Cravings, which now I am craving) and that he loves to write love songs about her. Her next remark, “What can I say? I’m very inspiring!” I loved her before but I do now even more. Her F-Bomb rant about the election continued before she graciously let her husband take the stage where John performed an epic performance of Love Me Now. Rolling Stone stated, “If her social media presence is any indication, Teigen is the fire to Legend’s ice; and the American Music Awards was a gigantic powder keg of political tension.

Halsey performed Closer alongside the Chainsmokers, Twenty one pilots played Heathens decked out in bank robber masks, and Nicki Minaj performed Side by Side with Ariana Grande in a very sensual performance. It did not help knowing what the song is actually about while watching them gyrate with the dancers. But it was the Starboy himself, The Weeknd who I had been looking forward to seeing the most. His performance to me made the show. He performed from inside of an ice tunnel, so even from close up in the audience we could only see him on the monitors until he emerged and it turned into a fire tunnel. It was interesting to watch him swagger throughout an icy lair flashing a rare smile. Gaga performed her new hit Million Reasons in her new countrified pop star style, surrounded by grass and hay but showcasing her stunning voice and incredible guitar skills. But it was Selena Gomez’s speech that closed the show that was truly inspiring. She won for favorite female pop artist and closed it out with a tearful speech, thanking her fans and even referencing her recent stint in rehab, which resulted in her cancelling the remainder of her tour to focus on her mental health. She spoke with such vulnerability about how she had to stop because she had everything and was absolutely broken inside. She ended it with “I kept it too much together because I let myself down. But I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore.” She concluded, “If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.” It was moving to witness firsthand her honestly and you could tell it was genuine and authentic moment. It was also a rare moment that a celebrity of her stature was brave and open enough to speak so candidly and possibly help viewers or people reading about it online who are struggling in a similar fashion.

Since the awards were over at eight, we went back to the hotel and caught up for an hour. It was a fantastic night with great company, and Max for perhaps for the 100th time this year headed for the airport! I ventured back out into the hotel where the after party was being held in the Golden ballroom. That rest of the night…. well that’s for me to remember.