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No comfort for sick Adele as Swift swoops for top awards

COUNTRY sensation Taylor Swift came up the big winner at the American Music Awards, claiming three trophies including the top honour, artist of the year.

She tied for most wins with British singer Adele, who also earned three trophies for female pop artist, best album with 21 and top adult contemporary performer.

But Adele, who came into the awards show as the most-nominated singer with four nods, lost artist of the year to Swift, who seemed genuinely surprised.

"This is one of the craziest things that has ever happened to me," Swift said. "I have no idea what I'm supposed to say. I did not think this was going to happen."

Along with year's top artist, Swift claimed AMA trophies for favourite female country artist for the second straight year, and she nabbed best country album with her Speak Now.

Adele, who is recovering from vocal chord surgery, was not on hand to accept her awards.

Rapper Nicki Minaj was the night's other big winner with two AMAs in the rap or hip-hop category: favourite artist and best album for her Pink Friday.

Elsewhere, the AMA awards were split among numerous acts.

Maroon 5 picked up the honour for best pop or rock group and Bruno Mars rounded out the pop category with an AMA trophy for best male artist.

Among R&B acts, Rihanna grabbed best album with Loud. Jennifer Lopez was the top Latin artist.

Justin Bieber with his holiday song Under the Mistletoe had fans singing in the audience.