Billboard Music Awards: 10 moments you missed, from Kesha to Rihanna

By Emily Yahr

The 2016 Billboard Music Awards proved to be an emotional night. Photo / AP
The 2016 Billboard Music Awards proved to be an emotional night. Photo / AP

R&B star the Weeknd was the big winner at the Billboard Music Awards, taking home eight awards out of a field-leading 16 nominations. However, following in the proud tradition of music award shows everywhere, no one really cared about the winners. As usual, it was all about the performances and potential viral moments - here are 10 moments you missed.

1. Kesha's much-discussed song

"You may have heard a lot of stories this past week about whether or not our next artist would perform on this show," host Ludacris informed the audience, just before Kesha appeared to sing an emotional cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me, Babe.

It's true: First, it was announced that the Billboard Music Awards would feature Kesha in her first televised performance since her lawsuit against uber-producer Dr. Luke went public. (She alleges he drugged and sexually assaulted her; he's denied all allegations and countersued.) Then, word got out from Billboard that her Dr. Luke-owned record label wouldn't allow her to perform because of rumours she might make a statement about the legal fight.

Finally, after Kesha promised she just wanted to sing a tribute to Dylan, Dr. Luke "allowed" her to perform again. And so she did, with a big standing ovation at the end.

2. Celine Dion's emotional speech

The powerhouse singer belted out Queen's The Show Must Go On before producers presented her with the Icon Award. And who did they enlist to carry out the trophy?

Dion's 15-year-old son, René-Charles, which meant Dion broke down crying on stage. Dion, whose husband and brother both died within days of each other this year after battling cancer, proceeded with a very emotional speech as her son stood next to her. She thanked her late husband, René Angelil, "who I know will continue to watch over me from up above." "René, this one's for you," she said.

3. Ludacris' crack about the Oscars

Ludacris, who co-hosted with Ciara, boasted about the show's prestige. "The Billboard awards is like the Oscars of music," he started. "Except, unlike the Oscars, we actually have black nominees this evening." The audience didn't quite know how to react to that one.

4. Demi Lovato's shirt

The 23-year-old pop star, known for her social activism, sported a T-shirt in support of the transgender community with a sparkly, gender-inclusive bathroom symbol as she performed her hit Cool for the Summer.

5. Nick Jonas being a very supportive brother

Nick played the part of Very Serious Singer as he crooned his solemn duet Close with Tove Lo. But when his big brother Joe's band DNCE performed Cake By the Ocean, Nick had a full-out dance party in the audience.

6. Pink singing from a trapeze

As she tends to do at award shows, Pink defied gravity with some terrifying aerial stunts, courtesy of her new single Just Like Fire.

Reaction from some viewers: Bor-ing!

7. Rihanna's show-stopper

Rihanna didn't need any fancy choreography or back-up performers for Love on the Brain, a ballad that showcased the star's powerful voice as she was surrounded by a set that looked like a haunted cave.

8. Questlove and Madonna's Prince tribute

Before Madonna took the stage, Questlove, drummer for the Roots, gave a touching monologue about Prince, who died almost exactly a month ago. "No matter our race, our colour, our creed, sexual orientation, all of us live in the land of music. And his departure from it was an earthquake," Questlove said. "But his departure leaves behind so much work still to do: We can follow his example, we can be fierce, we can be uncompromising, we can be experimental. We can also listen to all those songs that he left for us."

Cue Madonna sitting on a purple throne, as she belted out Nothing Compares 2 U. Afterwards, Stevie Wonder joined her on stage for a rendition of Purple Rain.

9. Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman

Grande is hit or miss during awards, but she looked like she was having a blast during her set of Dangerous Woman and new single Into You - and her energy was infectious.

10. The Britney Spears medley

The highly hyped show opening featured Spears going rapid-fire through her multiple hits, from Circus to Toxic to Womanizer. Curiously, there was no sign of ... Baby, One More Time or Oops! ... I Did It Again, the two hits that launched her to pop superstardom back in the day.

- Washington Post

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