By CHRIS TALBOTT
Looking like a princess out of a classic Japanese painting, Katy Perry offered a visual feast for viewers at the top of Sunday night's American Music Awards.
Perry wore a traditional Japanese dress during her show-starting performance of "Unconditionally" as scores of colorfully clad dancers waved fans, danced in front of rice-paper screens and played the drums.
Perry was the early focal point of the awards show, held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, arriving on the red carpet in a black strapless dress to screams from hundreds of fans. She said before the show she wanted to up her game, given the chance to open, and the whirling stage production was a wash of colors and movements before Perry disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"I appreciate all the other awards shows for what they are," Perry said in an earlier interview. "Some are just kind of shock jock shows. Some are just like, `Hey, let's see how many celebrities we can get together.' Some are actually legitimate like the Grammys, and the AMAs is a very legitimate show with musicality to it."
Host Pitbull joked that AMA stood for "A Miracle, America, that I'm here tonight," before Taylor Swift gave away the first award - pop/rock favorite male artist to Timberlake - and the star-packed show was off to a fast start.
One Direction was at times drowned out by screams during an understated performance of "Story of My Life." The decibel level was that way from the moment the British boy band arrived on the carpet, all smiles and dapper suits. Harry Styles stopped to take a picture with three fans.
Billy Ray Cyrus also mingled with fans, signing autographs and taking photos.
Many wondered how his daughter, Miley, would close things down with the final performance of the night. Most of the year's top performers were scheduled to take the stage, including Swift, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and top nominees Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Cyrus has shown herself adept at upping the ante in an especially memorable year that's included some brinksmanship, a few totally odd moments and plenty of skin?
When last we saw Cyrus, she smoking a joint and sharing the stage with a little person at the MTV European Music Awards - proving just how easily she could top her over-the-top twerk-a-thon on the MTV Video Music Awards.
Associated Press writer Jessica Herndon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Follow AP Entertainment at http://twitter.com/APEntertainment for frequent updates during Sunday night's broadcast. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris-Talbott.
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