Billboard Music Awards: The Weeknd wins big as stars rock out for a large live crowd
Los Angeles, California - The Weeknd claimed the biggest prize of the night at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, as fans and stars rocked out in one of the largest live award show audiences in over a year.
The BBMA ceremony, which celebrates music chart success, took place live at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night at a mix of indoor and outdoor stages and was hosted by Nick Jonas.
The Weeknd was honored as the year's top artist, gaining 10 awards out of his 16 nominations for his chart-topping album After Hours and single Blinding Lights – including top Hot 100 song, top Hot 100 Artist, and top Male Artist.
Accepting the ceremony's biggest prize, which he won over Drake, Juice Wrld, Pop Smoke, and Taylor Swift, The Weeknd delivered a brief speech for the masked, in-person audience and said: "I do not take this for granted. Thank you."
It was a stark difference from his beef and boycott of the Grammy Awards over their surprise snub and shutout of his chart-topping music this past year.
Machine Gun Kelly was named top rock artist and painted his tongue black for the occasion. Before accepting the honor, he heated up the red carpet with tongue-to-tongue posing with girlfriend Megan Fox, who wore a barely-there black cutout dress.
K-pop group BTS won top-selling song for Dynamite, Bad Bunny was named top Latin artist, and DaBaby took home the prize for top rap song for Rockstar – his collaboration with Roddy Ricch.
Late rapper Pop Smoke won top Billboard 200 album for his debut effort Shoot For The Stars, Aim For The Moon. He was shot and killed in Los Angeles last year at just 20-years-old with a promising career ahead.
Pop Smoke's mother, Audrey Jackson, accepted the award on his behalf and paid tribute to a "warrior."
Musical performances wowed in front of a live masked audience
Some of the industry's biggest names performed with a mix of live and pre-recorded segments.
Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Migos, Duran Duran, and The Weeknd all appeared, while BTS performed from Seoul.
The Jonas Brothers closed the show with a performance of their songs Leave Before You Love Me, Sucker, and Only Human.
Drake was joined by three-year-old son Adonis as he was named Artist of the Decade. The rap superstar was recognized for his remarkable chart dominance since 2010, including nine number one albums in the US and six number one singles, while he was also accompanied onstage by his parents and friends.
"I'm really bad at taking compliments," the 34-year-old, wearing a three-piece suit, told the audience. "I'm really self-conscious about my music and even if I do a good job I always wonder how I could have done it better."
"I rarely celebrate anything," he added. "Feeling so lucky and blessed that the fear of losing it keeps you up at night."
Pop star P!nk performed a medley of her biggest hits as she accepted the Billboard icon award, including a gorgeous mother-daughter aerial acrobatics duet with nine-year-old daughter Willow Sage to their song Cover Me In Sunshine.
Accepting the award, P!nk said: "I love what I do and I love the people I get to do it with. And we're pretty good at what we do but it wouldn't matter if no-one came to see us and play with us. So all you guys out there and around the world, thank you for coming out. Thank you for letting us all heal together. I cannot wait until we can do it again, until we can just sweat all over each other."
"Dream big," she added in a seemingly sentimental nod to music's biggest celebration since the pandemic hit, "because what if it comes true?"
Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/Instagram/meganfox & Screenshot/Instagram/comedianlilrel