The show airs on Oct. 9 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC

By Emily Zauzmer
October 09, 2018 04:15 PM
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/ACMA2018/FilmMagic; Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images; Larry Busacca/Getty

The 2018 American Music Awards are hours away — and everyone from Carrie Underwood to John Stamos to Cardi B is going to be there.

Before the red carpet is unrolled, here is everything you need to know to be ready for one of music’s brightest nights.

Who’s Hosting?

Tracee Ellis Ross is returning as the show’s host for the second year in a row. And if last year’s fashion is anything to go by — she had a whopping 12 outfit changes — the audience is in for one stylish show.

Tracee Ellis Ross onstage at the 2017 American Music Awards
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty (3)

The black-ish star, who is serving double duty as an executive producer, gushed on Instagram after the news broke, “SO NICE, I’M DOING IT TWICE.”

Who’s Performing?

Taylor Swift, who is nominated for four awards and has won 19 in the past, is making her grand return to the AMAs stage for the first time since 2014 as the show’s opener. The “Look What You Made Me Do” singer will belt out her hit “I Did Something Bad.”

Underwood and Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign are set to perform. Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Benny Blanco with Halsey and Khalid, Ciara with Missy Elliot, Dua Lipa, Panic! at the Disco, Ella Mai, Twenty One Pilots, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes with Zedd are also in the lineup.

Cardi will perform at an awards show for the first time since welcoming daughter Kulture Kiari with husband Offset in July. She will take the stage with Bad Bunny and J Balvin to perform “I Like It.”

Swift announced the news that she would perform in a video alongside her cat Meredith that was first shared on Good Morning America. “Good morning America. It’s Taylor,” Swift started. “I just wanted to say I’m going to be opening up the American Music Awards with a performance. So I wanted to —”

Losing interest, Meredith started to walk away. Swift quipped, “Don’t be too excited about it, my God.”

Who’s Nominated?

Drake and Cardi are tied for most nominations with eight each. The most-watched category of the night — artist of the year — is a race between Drake, Imagine Dragons, Malone, Ed Sheeran and Swift.

Other hotly anticipated categories include favorite new artist of the year — for which Cabello, Cardi, Khalid, Lipa and XXXTentation are nominated — and favorite tour of the year — which could go to Beyoncé and JAY-Z, Bruno Mars, Sheeran, Swift or U2.

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Swift and Sheeran filmed their reaction to facing off against Drake in the favorite album, pop/rock category on a hike.

“Hey Taylor, the AMA nominations just came out. It’s me, you and Drake,” Sheeran said in a video. Both responded, “You’re gonna win.” They then concluded, “Drake’s gonna win.”

Swift captioned the post, “Safe to say whoever wins the AMA for fav pop/rock album will be an artist who writes songs about love and heartbreak.”

XXXTentation’s two nominations — for favorite new artist of the year and favorite album, soul/R&B — are posthumous. The rapper was shot and killed at age 20 in June as he left a motorsports dealership outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The full list of nominations can be found here.

Who Are the Presenters?

Stars such as Busy Philipps, Constance Wu, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson, Heidi Klum, Stamos, Macaulay Culkin, Vanessa Hudgens and Tyra Banks will all present awards.

Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart of The Chainsmokers

The big names don’t stop there — Amandla Stenberg; Amber Heard; Taran Killam and Leighton Meester; Anthony Mackie; Billy Eichner; Kathryn Hahn; Liza Koshy; Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello and Gwilym Lee from Bohemian Rhapsody and Sara Gilbert are also part of the roster of presenters.

Will There Be Tributes?

The AMAs will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin, died of pancreatic cancer at age 76 in August, and Queen.

Gladys Knight, who sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at Franklin’s funeral, will lead a performance in honor of Franklin. Ledisi, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, CeCe Winans and musical director Rickey Minor will participate.

Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin
| Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty; Mike Coppola/Getty

“When I heard some of the initial ideas for the tribute, I knew without a doubt that this tribute will go down as one of the best in American music,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and the executor of her estate, told the Associated Press.

According to a press release, the tribute will focus on “Franklin’s gospel roots and iconic gospel album, Amazing Grace.”

The AMAs further announced that Panic! at the Disco will give a nod to Queen by performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the band’s first-ever AMAs song. The stars of the new movie of the same name will introduce the number.

Who Decides the Winners?

You do! The AMAs are the largest fan-voted award show. Fans can vote through the show’s website and on Twitter.

How Can I Watch the Red Carpet?

You can catch all the glitz and glam online before the show. The AMAs will livestream the red carpet on YouTube with hosts Jessie James Decker, Scott Evans, AJ Gibson, Erika Jayne, Laura Marano and Zach Sang from 6-8 p.m. EST.

When Does the Show Start?

The fun begins live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Oct. 9 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC.