By Sara Seibel
Returning for its twenty-first year in Vegas, The Billboard Music Awards, or the BBMAs, brought the house down with their spectacular lineup. The annual event presented nominees with awards and showcased newcomers and veteran artists on Sunday evening, May 21 at the T-Mobile Arena.
Before entering the arena, artists had a chance to show off their latest fashion skills on the Magenta Carpet held in front of the New York, New York Casino parking lot. Hundreds of fans gathered early in the morning to reserve a spot for the perfect photo opp to see their favorite artists walk the carpet.
Among the entertainers attending the party that celebrates the most successful artists of the year were Bebe Rexha, JoJo from Dance Moms, Ty Dolla Sign, Hailee Steinfeld, YH boys, Rita Ora, and Ansel Elgort.
This year’s hosts were “High School Musical” alumnus Vanessa Hudgens and hip hop recording artist Ludacris. Nicki Minaj kicked off the night with a nine-minute banging performance of hit songs “No Fraud,” “Swalla,” and her latest solo single “Regret in Your Tears,” featuring appearances by Jason Derulo, David Guetta, and Lil Wayne.
The most heartwarming and best act of the night was Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” for the 20th anniversary of the 1997 classic “Titanic.” The set was stunning with a huge, crystal chandelier surrounding the well-respected veteran artist as clips from the film played on the big screens. There was not a dry eye in the room; the performance even made Hudgens spill some tears and stumble over her next lines.
Another significant point of the night belonged to Cher, who received the Icon Award. She brought to the stage two of her most famous songs, “Believe” and “If I Could Turn Back Time” in her burlesque costumes and blonde and black wigs. Cher revved up the audience and had everyone dancing in their seats.
Other highlights included Vanessa Hudgens attempt at rapping Nicki Minaj’s 2010 “Monster” and Sean “Diddy” Combs special appearance to honor what would have been Notorious B.I.G’s 45th birthday. Drake’s firework-invaded performance of “Gyalchester” in the middle of the Bellagio fountains was purely jaw-dropping as well.
Miley Cyrus revealed a new, lighter vibe than usual with her debut single “Malibu” with a beach backdrop. Wearing a white flowy top and denim shorts, her stage was easily the most subdued performance of the night. Rather than putting style in the forefront, Cyrus chose to showcase her vocals.
The BBMAs welcomed diversity this year, and South Korean pop boy band, BTS, didn’t leave without first making history. They beat Justin Bieber’s six-year streak of Top Social Artist, obtaining the most votes on social media in Billboard history with over 300 million votes using their hashtag #BTSBBMAS, and became the first Korean group to clinch a Billboard Music Award. The first-time BBMA nominees not only got their hands on the trophy, but also received the loudest cheers throughout the whole night, as many fans attended to support their foreign idol’s first American award ceremony.
Many more awards were announced throughout the ceremony, but Drake was the biggest winner of the night, claiming 13 awards altogether. The most prestigious award for Top Artist was announced last, and as expected, Drake took it home as the final winner of the night, surpassing Adele’s record of wins in one day. During his acceptance speech, he invited his collaborators, father Dennis Graham and Nicki Minaj to the stage to show his appreciation.
After Drake’s acceptance speech, the Billboard Music Awards came to a close. The audience exited the stadium and left with sore throats and blown minds. The BBMAs garnered much media attention once again and will be sure to bring in more crowds next year if the lineup is as good as this one.