Justin Bieber cleans up at American Music Awards

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16-year-old Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber has swept the American Music Awards in Los Angeles, taking home four gongs including artist of the year.

The teen idol beat off competition from the likes of Eminem, Usher and Lady Gaga to win the top prize, and also took home awards for favourite pop album, male pop artist and breakthrough artist.

"I'm from the smallest town in the world of, like, 30,000 people," Bieber said as he accepted the breakthrough artist award. "I never thought this was possible."

He later thanked Michael Jackson when he picked up the pop artist prize, saying, "Without Michael Jackson, none of us would be here."

Bieber's album "My World 2.0" has sold almost 2 million copies in the United States since its release earlier this year.

Eminem and country trio Lady Antebellum led the contenders with five nominations each. The rapper ended up with two awards in the rap/hip hop category, favourite male artist and album, while Lady Antebellum won a single prize, for best country group.

Other winners at the 38th annual ceremony included British rock band Muse, country stars Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley, R&B singers Rihanna and Usher, and crooner Michael Buble.

Swift won the favourite female country artist prize for the third consecutive year.

"I only want to thank the fans," says Swift. "I think it's something really wonderful and rare to feel understood, and to my fans I just want to say you guys get me and know where I'm coming from and I can't thank you enough for that."

The three-hour ceremony, which is mainly a showcase for artists to sing their new hits, saw performances from Rihanna, Kid Rock, Bieber, Perry, Bon Jovi, Swift, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and the Black Eyed Peas.

The evening ended with performances from two boybands, New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys.