Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards promote mostly seemed like a conflict for cocktail music’s really soul, as feign smiles and cheesy promo tie-ins vied with critical outspoken bravery and displays of genuine tension for 3 long, eventful hours. Rising stars like Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan warranted their places on a large stage, though it was a bona fide divas (Rihanna, Celine Dion and Adele, who didn’t even sing live) – and always-welcome maestro Stevie Wonder – who eventually owned a night. Here’s who triumphed and tight during Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
BEST OF THE NIGHT: Rihanna Belts a Monster Torch Song
Before Rihanna picked adult a fan-voted Chart Achievement Award, she released a timely pointer that Beyoncé isn’t a usually luminary thespian to recover a vital LP in 2016. The decidedly old-school “Love on a Brain” – one of Anti‘s surprisingly manly low cuts – is a passion-fueled fire strain given a Rihanna spin (“I’m sleepy of being played like a violin/What do we gotta do to get in your motherfuckin’ heart?” she sings on record). On Sunday night she entirely leaned into a track, showcasing a raspy, unwashed side of her voice. Her burning opening showed not usually how distant she’s come given a “Pon De Replay” days though where she could potentially take her superfluous glamour and newly unearthed outspoken nuance.
BEST: Kesha Covers Dylan, Takes High Road
After all of a past week’s backstage drama, Kesha sensitively prevailed on Sunday. To recap: Dr. Luke’s tag Kemosabe primarily postulated Kesha accede to perform during a BBMAs, afterwards altered a mind, afterwards finally relented when a thespian denied a gossip that her opening would residence her legal battles with Luke and his imprint. Striking in black bolo tie and white suit, Kesha delivered a reverence to Bob Dylan she’s pronounced she always intended, corroborated by Ben Folds’ piano and a sheer violin accompaniment. Kesha’s chronicle of “It Ain’t Me Babe” was understated and heartfelt; a thespian incited Dylan’s steely ballad into a matter of still strength, suggesting her refusal to be tangible by others. The station acclaim she perceived – a prolonged overdue impulse of grace for an artist whose low-pitched dreams became real-world nightmares – was anything though obligatory.
WORST: Ludacris Goes Full Lech
No awards-show tongue is utterly as seat-shiftingly worried as an attempted unwashed fun that falls flat. To open a show, Ludacris announced that Sunday’s rite noted his third time hosting a BBMAs, job that attainment “My favorite threesome.” His co-host, Ciara, cursed all night to play glamorously tasteless true lady to Luda’s icky quipster, corrected him: He contingency have meant “threepeat.” In response, Luda forsaken a diseased punchline, “You like threepeat; we like threesome.” The horde not usually went on to deliver Heidi Klum as a lady who “likes being exposed on a beach,” though brought behind his initial unsuccessful wisecrack to contend of a 3 womanlike stars of a arriving film Bad Moms, “Here’s another trio I’m all about.” Worse still, Luda’s creepily PG-13 attempts during amusement overshadowed a one dignified puncture he got in final night: “Unlike a Oscars, we indeed have black nominees this evening.”
BEST: Madonna and Stevie Wonder Lead a “Purple Rain” Sing-Along
Some viewers were unimpressed or even angry during a medium scale of this opening – BET tweeted shade afterward. But no star – substantially no stageful of stars – could wish to consolidate Prince’s talent in a singular performance, and maybe it was correct not to try to embrace him. After a relocating Questlove debate – Prince’s “departure,” a lifelong Purple One left-wing said, “was an earthquake” – Madonna was revealed, seated in an huge purple bench that rotated to exhibit her fantastic outfit: a china fit with a Prince-like stormy shirt. She set aside her streamer intensity to sing an unshowy “Nothing Compares 2 U,” as photos of a late luminary flashed behind her. Then, unannounced, Stevie Wonder stepped from a wings singing “Purple Rain.” A duet shortly became arena-wide sing-along – usually as it has in homes and bars and clubs and arenas around a universe for a past month.
BEST: Celine’s Heart Will Go On
Celine Dion’s 2016 has been full of tragedy and delight – in January, her husband, René Angélil, and her hermit Daniel died within days of any other, and on Sunday night a Billboard Music Awards respected her with their Icon Award. After an romantic opening of Queen’s crashing paper to stability “The Show Must Go On,” Dion perceived a surprise: Her oldest son, René-Charles, would be presenting her with her trophy. Dion dissolved into tears and roughly immediately apologized for crying, observant she wanted to be “strong for [her] family” and revelation her son how happy he done her. “Music has been my passion given before we can roughly remember,” she continued. After tearfully thanking her mom (who penned her initial song) and her fans, she paid reverence to Angélil, “who we know will continue to watch over me from adult above.” Dion’s ability to strap her feelings into moments that ring widely was on full arrangement here, and she expected desirous some-more than a few Sunday-night communiqués between desired ones.
WORST: Meghan Trainor Displays Nah to a Ah to a N0, No, No Charisma
True superstars have theatre presence. Last night, Meghan Trainor had theatre absence. Whatever we consider of “No” – let’s say, usually for a consequence of argument, that it’s a bona fide cocktail anthem of womanlike empowerment it’s dictated to be – Trainor usually couldn’t sell her strike onstage. First she was upstaged by a sea of intense wristbands a assembly brandished behind her. Then she was upstaged by her possess multihued, spangly dress. Finally, when she strolled by a crowd, she was upstaged by a some-more charismatic celebrities she enlisted to sing along. The lyrics of Trainor’s anthem intimate Janet Jackson-level badassery, though canned-seeming blandness was a best she could pattern here. Just … no.
BEST: Britney Spears’ Big Top Routine
As shortly as Sunday’s uncover began, Britney Spears set a bar high – and afterwards literally back-flipped over it – with an eight-minute miscellany of hits that enclosed “Work Bitch,” “Womanizer,” “I’m a Slave 4 U” and “Toxic,” among others. With a small assistance from dancers dressed variously like Star Wars visitor extras and SM gimps, she achieved an eye-popping choreography slight in that she swiveled, twirled, congaed, pole-danced and, maybe many memorably of all, rode a hulk guitar like a automatic bull. It was a philharmonic that got even Wiz Khalifa out of his chair for a improved look. Spears finished it perfectly, station in front of a wall of fire with a justifiably confident grin on her face.
BEST: Adele Says Hello From a Other Side (of a World)
Adele couldn’t make it to a T-Mobile Arena on Sunday given of debate obligations (her Adele Live 2016 debate was finishing adult a two-night mount in Lisbon), though given a blockbuster sales of her 2015 album, 25, she had to have a presence. Appearing around satellite to accept dual of her 5 awards, she gave American viewers a pile-up march in British slang, observant she was “super chuffed” to be respected as Top Artist during a desirable acceptance speech. While time differences erased a probability of a trans-Atlantic performance, a video for Adele’s new single, a winking kiss-off “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” did premiere during Sunday’s show; a clip, destined by Grammy hopeful Patrick Daughters, is a kaleidoscope dream where Adele, clad in a floor-length floral dress, shows off a spectrum of her post-breakup emotions. (Stankface is heavily involved.)
WORST: Wiz Khalifa’s Puth-less Acceptance Speech
Khalifa returned to Number One on a cocktail charts final year – a initial time he’s reached those lofty heights given 2011, a year of his dermatitis hit, “Black and Yellow.” When a MC supposed an endowment final night, he proceeded to acknowledge a mass of a other marks in his category, and afterwards he thanked everybody in a audience, a fans, labels, his management, God and more. But he neglected to discuss one essential figure: Charlie Puth, a crooner whose cloying offshoot helped make “See You Again” such a success. The repudiation was heightened by a soundtrack – as Khalifa strutted towards a theatre to accept his trophy, it was Puth’s carol that blared over a soundsystem.
BEST: Justin Bieber Keeps “Company” Low-Key
Bieber’s live performances have warranted notice newly for their world-weary quality, and in Las Vegas, he demonstrated because that competence be a good demeanour for him. “Company” featured some of a night’s many considerable visuals: primarily an airstream motif, and later, ripping red comets that done a thespian seem roughly like an afterthought during his possess show. Bieber’s backup dancers seemed to emerge from a floor; all wore white, as if they were on their approach to a baptism, adhering with a emancipation account that has characterized this singer’s many new chapter. Bieber changed as many as he indispensable to and no more, acknowledging a activity around him with a difficult negligence of a star who’s seen it all. Against all odds, he’s turn a kind of performer who doesn’t need to review to overacting to authority courtesy onstage. Only DJ Khaled pennyless by Bieber’s icy composure: The thespian showed a many tension when interrupting Khaled’s shade time backstage.
WORST: Ciara Curbs Her Enthusiasm
Ciara is no foreigner to award-show purgatory, carrying spent a entirety of final year’s American Music Awards in a Music Freedom Lounge, radically a T-Mobile-branded cell. On Sunday, she took on what seemed like a some-more liberating role, creation her entrance as BBMA co-host, though right from a start, her coming seemed strained. Even with her fiancé Russell Wilson benefaction to give dignified support, a RB princess perplexed by an ungainly evening, impersonation unrestrained during any unpleasant coming as she set about sapping once-meaningful adjectives like “amazing” and “incredible” of any kind of meaning.( The rebellious peculiarity that she demonstrated a month before a awards show, when she refused to contend a name of a hopeful for Top Rap Artist, her ex Future, whom she’s suing for $15 million for slander and libel, was nowhere to be found.) Ciara might have been given in a slew of glittery, cleavage-baring gowns, including one lead “naked” ensemble, though zero could confuse from a fact that she ceaselessly steady names and difference a kick behind Ludacris, as if she was perpetually personification catch-up. It incited out to be Rihanna’s night to gleam splendid like a diamond, so Ciara usually seemed like a unsatisfactory potion bauble.
BEST: Demi Lovato Steamrolls Summer Tourmate Nick Jonas
It’s been a serious year for Nick Jonas during awards shows: He flubbed a guitar solo when behaving with Kelsea Ballerini during this year’s ACMs, and his duet with Tove Lo during a BBMAs final night was swathed in dark and unsuccessful to beget a claim heat. In contrast, Demi Lovato came out after Jonas with a force of a Mack truck. Her shirt decorated a gender neutral lavatory pointer – a thespian recently opted not to play in North Carolina as a criticism opposite a state’s discriminatory “bathroom bill” – and she sang into a radiant golden microphone as fireworks erupted behind her; all was flamable and direct. She played a singular from summer 2015, though fans were forgiving, and on a night dominated by lip-syncing, she finished with a extensive hitch of considerable melisma.
BEST: Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Bat Eyelashes
Country’s initial couple, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, separate final year, though any publication will tell we that Shelton already has a new beau: Gwen Stefani, who served as a associate manager on The Voice. Thomas Rhett gave a dual his stamp of capitulation on Sunday when he introduced them as “a ideal compare in genuine life and onstage,” and a span achieved “Go Ahead and Break My Heart,” that seemed Friday on Shelton’s If I’m Honest album. A jewel-encrusted Stefani assimilated Shelton onstage after a initial hymn and rubbed a low finish of a harmonies. “How did we get me so into you?” she sang, throwing a large grin his way. The dual singers they done adult for their miss of transformation by progressing relentless eye strike via a whole performance, as if no one else mattered.
BEST: Ariana Grande Enters a Danger Zone
Ariana Grande’s new Dangerous Woman is a jump into mature domain for a onetime Nickelodeon star, and her opening Sunday reflected that ambition. She started off with a bracingly peculiar solo take on a pretension lane that felt desirous by an irritable after-hours bar (she plunked out accompaniment on a synth and altered her voice with a vocoder while hot-pink fume swirled around her) afterwards jumped into her slinky new single, “Into You,” as a phalanx of black-clad dancers and well-timed pyro underscored a song’s themes of dance-floor desire. As always, Grande’s challenging voice was a star of a show, doing difficult runs with an flexibility that done her opening feel electric.
WORST: Zendaya’s History Lesson
Best RB Song presenter Zendaya was given a tough assignment by a showrunners: explaining what RB is. Her introduction to a difficulty was academic – “in a late 1940s, a tenure ‘rhythm blues’ was indeed combined by Billboard repository to marketplace a genre’s rising artists” – nonetheless vague: “with a seamless mix of soul, funk, pop, hip-hop and even gospel, stroke blues is a difficulty all on a own.” Wiz Khalifa, her co-presenter, gave her small help, agreeable in usually to announce that singers like Stevie Wonder and Prince both counted as RB. On tip of that, 3 of a 5 entries in a difficulty were songs by a Weeknd, so torment about a intensity leader was minimal.
BEST: Pink Takes Flight
These days, Pink can seem reduction like a cocktail star these days than an acrobat who sings during awards shows – death-defying feats have turn as many a partial of her core act as ardent vocals. While she achieved her new single, “Just Like Fire,” a wire apparatus yanked her above a theatre and flung her out over a audience. Clad in a difficult outfit of black leather and tulle, and wearing her hair in a serious pinkish top-knot, Pink looked like a quite fearsome Power Rangers knave – generally during her finale, when she was carried skyward again, this time by a span of time hands, and a enormous watch behind her detonate into flames.
BEST: Nick Jonas, Sibling Superfan
Nick Jonas has no chill – and it’s implausible to watch. When his large hermit Joe’s band, DNCE, achieved their strike “Cake by a Ocean,” some assembly members danced a little, some mouthed along, though Nick put his phone out during arm’s length, holding long, unconditional shots of his kin as he swiveled and mouthed along with a song’s words. Demi Lovato, sitting subsequent to him, simply smiled as he fanboyed out. Even when Joe traipsed by a throng toward a finish of a tune, many fans awkwardly smiled, though when a camera cut behind to Nick, he was happily fist-bumping everybody in sight.
WORST: Lukas Graham’s Ballad Lasts 7 Years
Something contingency be decaying in a state of Denmark, where cocktail organisation Lukas Graham call home. The rope came out set adult for an romantic opening of their schmaltzy strike “7 Years” with a theatre in a round, a stripped-down, street-clothes look, and a thespian – Lukas Forchhammer – peaceful to blink uncontrollably and display so tough that his face incited tomato red. They even built a strain adult instrument by instrument, from a piano intro to a rocking outro. But they unsuccessful to strike it over a net, as a assembly hardly changed and cheered obligatorily during a end.
BEST: Shawn Mendes Stitches Together a Hit
Having come adult by Vine, a video-sharing use built on six-second clips, Canadian teen dream Shawn Mendes knows how to make pieces of songs work to his advantage. On Sunday night he showed off his ability to make tools of a lane into something larger than a whole; he started his stripped-down opening of his Top 10 strike “Stitches” on acoustic guitar before streamer into an adjacent room where a piano was set up. He finished off a strain there, tickling a ivories while a guitarist combined Edge-like riffing in a background. The performance, postponement and all, authorised a strain to breathe in a approach that a eager available chronicle doesn’t.
BEST: Go-Go’s Rock Like Bad Moms Made Good
The Go-Go’s reuniting to perform their balmy signature hit, “We Got a Beat,” felt like a truly poptastic event, with lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle moving while Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Abby Travis (the bassist after Kathy Valentine left a band) supposing gaseous support. Taking a theatre after a block for a film Bad Moms, this classical lineup of a all-female organisation – famous for epic in-fighting though looking legitimately bubbly on Sunday – came off like tangible deafening broads who haven’t mislaid their edge, generally when a camera cut divided to Wiedlin, rocking out on guitar with a bright-blue bob, ostensible as punk as ever.