Pop star Rihanna recently became the first to take home the honor of “Icon” bestowed by the American Music Awards (AMA), but her selection has met with controversy.
AMA cited Rihanna’s six Grammy awards, 11 Billboard Awards, and 180 million digital tracks sold worldwide, and relied heavily on social media to make the decision, taking into account her 10 million Instagram and 33 million Twitter followers.
After an introduction by Bill Maher and a performance of her hit song “Diamonds,” Rihanna was presented the award by her mother, Monica Braithwaite.
“Rihanna, I’m so proud of you tonight,” she said as she presented the trophy. “I know the journey in your career has not always been an easy one, but tonight I applaud you and admire you for being so strong and so positive and so humble and so focused.”
“It’s amazing how you always manage to take good from all your experiences,” Braithwaite added. “I’m so blessed to be a part of this historic moment. I just want to say how proud I am to present to you the first-ever AMA Icon Award.”
With the AMA touting her as the “most viewed artist on YouTube,” the “biggest artist on Facebook” and the “best selling digital artist of all time,” the star took to the stage clad in a full-length black outfit with her hair still doobie-wrapped and held in place with studded bobby pins.
“I can’t believe that at 25 years old, I’m holding an Icon Award,” the star said in her acceptance speech.
She’s not the only one.
The Twitter-verse and Facebook alike continued to buzz over whether other artists, such as Beyonce and Adele, should have been honored first.
“Wrong choice,” said one commenter, Jimmy Fores of Annondale, Va.
“It’s not about talent it’s about popularity,” said Jersey City native Regina Smith.
Still, for every negative reaction, there were hundreds more of a positive tone.
“Thank you for giving Rihanna the Icon Award, she got robbed so many times and has not received the acclimations she deserved in the past,” said Lois Kebe of Mount Vernon, Ohio, before calling the recognition bittersweet. “Her amazing performance on the recording ‘Stay’ should have won every award in its category.”
Aside from taking the Icon Award, Rihanna also grabbed the honor for top female artist at the awards show, which aired live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Justin Timberlake took home the award for favorite album, favorite male pop artist and favorite male soul artist.
Also honored was Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez as the surviving members of the TLC trio gave a special reunion performance.