M.C. Hammer nailed five American Music Awards and a defensive Vanilla Ice won two as rap again showed itself as a major force in popular music. The award show Monday night in Los Angeles maintained a celebratory spirit, but winners and presenters paid tribute to American forces fighting in the Persian Gulf.

Hammer, on stage, dedicated one of his trophies to the troops overseas. Backstage, he declared full support for them, noting he was an ex-Navy man.The show also was highlighted by Gloria Estefan's first stage performance since she suffered a broken back in a bus crash March 20. A standing ovation greeted the former lead singer for Miami Sound Machine.

Hammer swept five nominations in rap and the soul-rhythm and blues categories and lost only two, both to Phil Collins, in pop-rock.

Janet Jackson entered with five nominations and won three trophies, including favorite female artist in pop-rock, soul-R&B and dance music. Like Collins, Jackson did not attend the event.

Rap's dominance was apparent in the award for new pop rock artist. White rapper Vanilla Ice beat Wilson Phillips, a trio with a slick pop sound, and Mariah Carey, a singer of operatic range who also writes her own material.

Longtime rockers Aerosmith beat Bell Biv DeVoe and New Kids on the Block for pop-rock group. Aerosmith also won heavy metal-hard rock artist.

Bell Biv DeVoe, purveyors of a hip-hop R&B sound, was best new artist in the soul-R&B and dance-music categories. The trio Tony! Toni! Tone! garnered the soul-R&B group award.

Reba McEntire topped the country awards, winning the album honor for Reba Live and the female artist trophy. George Strait was male country artist and Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes" was the favorite single.