"This year more than ever," said Orly Adelson, president of dick clark productions, which puts on the show. "We have 19 performances, which we've never done before ... Every big artist this year said yes, and we wanted them all."
Miley Cyrus won't just sing, she'll celebrate her "Sweet 16" on the show, she said. New Kids on the Block will perform a medley of songs, including their new single, marking their return to the AMAs after 17 years. Coldplay and Leona Lewis will make their American Music Award debuts, and Alicia Keys and Sarah McLachlan will perform with yet-to-be-announced artists in genre-crossing mash-ups.
Other artists slated to perform include Mariah Carey, Pink, Ne-Yo, Taylor Swift and Annie Lennox, who will receive the Award of Merit, an honor previously bestowed on Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra and James Brown, among others.
There will be other awards, too, chosen by online voters in 21 categories. Keys leads nominees with five nods, including artist of the year and favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories. Coldplay and the Eagles have four nominations each, while Chris Brown and Lil Wayne have three apiece. All are also contenders for artist of the year.
"We do need the awards, because it goes back to the fact that this is a show for the fans," Adelson said. "Fans are determining the winners, and that's what makes it exciting."
The roster of presenters is just as star-studded as the list of performers. Terrence Howard, Kate Walsh, Paris Hilton, T-Pain, Ashley Tisdale and Nick Lachey are set to help hand out trophies.
Jimmy Kimmel returns for a fifth time as host of the two-hour show, held at the Nokia Theatre.