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Katy Perry thinks most awards shows are fun, but she especially loves the American Music Awards.

Perry said she was thrilled to be asked to open the live ABC broadcast Sunday night from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles with her latest single “Unconditionally.”

“I appreciate all the other awards shows for what they are,” Perry said. “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.”

Three hours after Perry, Miley Cyrus was scheduled to close things down. In between, most of the year’s top performers were scheduled to take the stage, including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Pitbull hosted and was to perform with Ke$ha, and Jennifer Lopez was to offer a tribute to Celia Cruz.

As 2013 nears an end, the question is how can these acts distinguish themselves in an especially memorable year that’s included some brinksmanship, a few totally odd moments and plenty of skin?

When last we saw Perry, she was floating above the stage at the MTV European Music Awards, a human maypole of sorts. Cyrus was at the Amsterdam show, too, smoking a joint and sharing the stage with a little person – proving just how easily she could top her over-the-top twerk-a-thon on the MTV Video Music Awards.

Macklemore and Lewis were the fan-voted AMA’s top nominees this year with six, while Swift and Timberlake had five apiece. All three acts were up for top honor artist of the year, along with Rihanna and Bruno Mars.

Swift and Justin Bieber, who was not nominated this year, have alternated victories in the category the last four years, cashing in on their rabid, social media-driven fan bases.

Only the adventurous would have voted against Swift this year. Timberlake has the year’s top-selling album and Macklemore and Lewis tickled everyone’s fancy with “Thrift Shop.” But the category winner has been either young or country since the award’s inception in 2004. Swift is both.