You would not have realised it was filmed during a pandemic if you watch the first few minutes of the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) that took place on Wednesday, October 14.
Kelly Clarkson, who has hosted twice before, sang a cover of Higher Love by Steve Winwood, and a cappella (and cellist) group Pentatonix and drummer Sheila E. joined the stage. But there was no cheering in spite of a perfect start to the show, no cries were heard. And when an excited Clarkson, screamed the names of the upcoming performers of the evening, her words echoed.
She even realised that things were a little awkward. “There’s no audience, it’s just me. I’m my own hype girl,” she laughed.
While some of the BBMAs were reminiscent of pre-Covid awards shows, there were several things that would not have happened in any other year with live music performances from Los Angeles.
Here are the unforgettable moments of the night.
John Legend’s legendary performance
Legend, who publicly endured a pregnancy loss with Chrissy Teigen, appeared to perform Never Break on the piano in a white suit in Billboard Music Awards.
He dedicated the song with a whisper to his wife: “This is for Chrissy.”
What followed was a moving performance, the song, especially emotional in the wake of his family tragedy, on maintaining a strong relationship between life’s challenges. With tears in his eyes, he concluded the performance.
Clarkson told her Voice fellow judge, what all viewers were thinking: “John that was beautiful”.
Demi Lovoto and BTS power packed performance
Lovato and BTS are reliably powerful performers, and at the BBMAs they kept those reputations.
Lovato, in royal blue, performed her politically pointed ballad Commander in Chief on the piano after unveiling her latest single earlier in the day and urging her fans to vote.
“Commander in chief, honestly, if I did the things you do, I couldn’t sleep,” she sang, powerful as always. “We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying while you line your pockets deep.”
BTS boogied in a pre-recorded performance of Dynamite taped in South Korea in coordinating magenta suits. Of course, their movements were perfectly in sync, their hair was perfectly coiffed, and the lights and screens were perfectly over-the-top (including a band video).
Did BTS ever disappoint us?
Lizzo’s outfit matched her vote appeal
On Lizzo’s one-sleeve black minidress, the message was clear: “VOTE.” And she used her acceptance speech to talk about why she thinks it’s important to use your voice for top song sales artists.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about suppression,” she said, noting that she probably would not be onstage accepting an award “if it weren’t for the big Black women who refused to have their voices be suppressed.”
She continued: “Whether it’s through music, protest or your right to vote, use your power. Use your voice and refuse to be suppressed,” she told fans. “When people try to suppress something, it’s normally because that thing holds power. They’re afraid of your power.”
And then she stormed off stage triumphantly, yelling, “Bye, (expletive)!”
“Please vote. Please wear a mask. Please clean your hands. Be safe. Take care. In one of her two acceptance speeches (for best album and female artist), Billie Eilish implored and practised what she preached.
In the Billboard Music Awards the artist was in an army-green Gucci head-to-toe pattern, including a bucket hat and a matching mask. But during the pre-pandemic Grammys, she also wore a mask, though that was more for fashion than purpose.
Dancers who were part of several eye-catching performances were also wearing masks. The dancers of Bad Bunny wore matching masks and tutus and spun them on roller skates.
During her set, Alicia Keys, who was in a sequined bodysuit and hairdo in Cher style, had a masked band and modern dancers. The band En Vogue wore sparkly “VOTE” masks behind the group.
Doja Cat, who at one point danced in a flapper-esque outfit during a jazzy performance of ‘Juicy’ in front of projections of herself, also had actual dancers in masks.
Kelly Clarkson: Gorgeous host of Billboard Music Awards
Clarkson rocked long blonde hair during the night in a variety of styles, a glittering hair accessory, and outfit of gold and silver and sparkles. In her performance of Higher Love, which was a fitting show opener, she looked glamorous and sounded gorgeous because a version of the song remixed by Kygo and sung by Whitney Houston was nominated for top dance/electronic song.
The host was also her normal candid self, pointing out when she didn’t know the camera was on her, cuing her own jokes with forced laughter and boos, cracking up when she was told that in an early video she looked “too young” and acting genuinely stimulated for all the performers.
It’s been more than 20 years since Brandy released her Almost Doesn’t Count. But on the BBMAs, she played the hit and it sounded as good as new.
She sang it as part of a show that included choreography and a duet with Ty Dolla Symbol, in a gauzy white outfit and what seemed to be a corset around her waist.
Vogue, looking awesome in black, leather and glittering ensembles at the end of the show, did not hold back while belting their 1992 song Free Your Mind, even pulling credit cards for the “credit’s all bad” line out of their tops and remixing their song with This Is America by Childish Gambino.
Post Malone- the Top Male Artist
Malone was declared as the Billboard Top Male Artist after performing with Tyla Yaweh at an unspecified pyrotechnic-filled venue in LA. The man who famously used his acceptance speech to say “I love grapes” at the American Music Awards isn’t one to wax poetic onstage, but he said something very nice Wednesday.
“I want to thank everybody at home, my fans, beautiful mother, my very handsome father, my beautiful stepmother,” he said. “Stay strong and spread love.”
Ultimately, Malone collected a total of nine trophies (while Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande earned zero) including top artist. “Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen,” he said, accepting a cart of trophies slid to him “COVID-style” by Clarkson. “I appreciate it more than I can ever express.”
Last but not the least
A medley of his songs was performed on the Dolby stage by Brooks, who accepted the Icon Award from Cher. But his set had something different: there were cheers, and people were singing along.
The pre-recorded audio was jarring at first, because it was so clearly fake, but it was easy to forget that there were no stands of people watching him in person by the time Brooks took the mike to literally thank “all those people who filled the stands.”
With his Covid-19 performance, the man who crashed Facebook clearly knows how to navigate a show that is socially distanced.