In the music award show hierarchy, the GRAMMYs are a formal gala compared to Billboard’s popularity contest. Instead of relying on secret academies and votes, Billboard winners are selected by the numbers (sales, downloads and radio play that make up the charts), making the ceremony more of a party than a competition.
Here are 10 moments that social media is buzzing about from last night’s show.
1. Unofficial Nicki Minaj Concert
Nicki isn’t waiting for anyone to hand her a Lifetime Achievement Award. Instead, she put on her best BDSM-chic lewks and killed for nine straight minutes, dropping hits and special guests (like Lil Wayne and David Guetta). It’s boss performances like this that make Nicki a respected hip-hop and pop crossover powerhouse.
2. Camila Cabello’s First Solo Performance
From Fifth Harmony to party of one. Camila Cabello had a lot to prove on her first outing without her former girl group, and she gave a passionate performance of “I Have Questions” and “Crying in the Club.” But we have to wonder if Camila took the Las Vegas setting a little too literally—the set and aesthetic looked straight out of Caesar’s Palace.
3. Drake Cleans Up (with his Cash Money fam in tow)
Drake had a huge night—he gave a flashy performance of Gyalchester from the center of the Bellagio’s water fountain (you know, the one featured in Ocean’s 11) and set the Billboard record for most single wins in a year with 13 awards (Top Artist, Top Male Artist, and Top Rap Artist, to name a few). During one of his speeches, Drake took the time to compliment co-host Vanessa Hudgens, clear up his old beef with Ludacris, show gratitude for his reconnection with Nicki Minaj and his relationship with Lil Wayne, and shout-out his dad’s purple suit with purple shoes.
4. Miley Cries for Malibu
Introduced by sis Noah and dad Billy, a newly reinvented Miley gave a teary-eyed performance of her folksy Liam Hemsworth tribute, Malibu. No nipple pasties or foam accessories, but a bunch of balloons were dropped from the ceiling. (The slyest part of the performance was when the camera cut to Nicki Minaj, who smiled and clapped. What’s good?)
5. Next Gen B.I.G.
For years, Diddy has carried The Notorious B.I.G. torch. On what would have been Biggie’s 45th birthday, Diddy had family on the brain as he presented a clip of Voletta Wallace at the BBMAs shortly after the rap icon’s death. He went on to introduce Biggie’s son, CJ Wallace, as an up-and-coming recording artist and actor. (PS: After seeing the trailer, who else can’t wait for Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story?)
6. K-Pop Gets Mainstream Love
In a legit heartwarming moment, BTS became the first ever K-Pop band to win a Billboard Music Award. Their fandom, know as ARMY, took to Twitter and the BMA website to ensure the band’s Top Social Artist prize, using the hashtag #BTSBBMAS over 30 million times.
7. Céline’s Heart Goes On
Flawless, dramatic, gut-wrenching—as expected, Céline Dion delivered a pitch-perfect performance with all the feels. Her Stephane Rolland dress was like a couture cloud fit for our Quebecois Queen. It felt like the loudest and longest standing ovation of the night.
8. Chris Cornell Tribute
After a performance with Imagine Dragons, lead singer Dan Reynolds returned to the stage to pay tribute to Chris Cornell, who died suddenly and tragically just last week. His thoughtful words about Cornell and his musical legacy were heartfelt, genuine and respectful—not the easiest thing to pull off in front of a made-for-TV crowd.
9. Cher Shows Millennials How It’s Done
Introduced by Gwen Stefani for the Icon Award as a trailblazer, fashion trendsetter, cultural influencer, activist and humanitarian, Cher blazed onto stage to perform her ageless hit, “Believe.” (Just TRY not singing along to that song—it’s impossible.) The party continued with “If I Could Turn Back Time” (yes—she wore the outfit!). Her list of accomplishments is astounding (GRAMMYs, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar) and, according to her acceptance speech, at 71 she can still slay a five-minute plank. #goals
10. Honourable Mentions
He couldn’t be in Las Vegas in person, but that doesn’t mean Ed Sheeran wasn’t there in spirit. He gave a live satellite performance of Castle on the Hill to an enraptured crowd in Chile. (You could practically hear the screams from Santiago. South American crowds could really show uptight North American concert goers how to scream.) On the other end of the spectrum, Lorde went meta, tricking the stage out like a cheap karaoke bar, which felt like peeking in on a private night with friends.