The Billboard Music Awards took place in Las Vegas yesterday, with Justin Timberlake taking home a massive seven awards, including Top Artist and Top Male Artist. Other big winners were Imagine Dragons, who notched up five awards including Top Group and Top Rock Artist and Pharrell, Robin Thicke and T.I who each scored four awards.
The ceremony also played host to a plethora of musical performances including a far out performance of The Beatles hit Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds from Miley Cyrus featuring Flaming Lips, the beautiful All Of Me sung by John Legend, and the final ever TV performance of Counting Stars from One Republic after lead singer Ryan Tedder told Billboard the group were retiring the song from future TV performances.
Jason Derulo performed a medley of his hits including Talk Dirty, and Katy Perry performed her new single Birthday via satellite from London, where she is currently on tour, and also accepted the award for Top Female Artist. Jennifer Lopez gave two performances as well as being honoured with the Icon Award; she looked sensational and delivered a very passionate acceptance speech, but really the main focus of the awards was the performance from none other than the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
It took six months of planning, filming and choreography, but boy was it worth it. A hologram figure of Jackson took to the stage with 16 truly incredible dancers to perform Slave to the Rhythm, a track the late star recorded back in 1991 with L.A Reid and Babyface during sessions for the Dangerous album. The track now features on Jackson’s posthumous album, Xscape, which looks set to top the Billboard 200 next week.
The performance opened with Jackson seated on a gold throne, on a set very reminiscent of the Dangerous album artwork, with Michael himself dressed in red leather pants and a gold jacket. Apparently the look designed for him was based on how he looked for the HIStory tour in 1997.
Dancers moved through the aisles as Jackson rose from the throne and made his way to the front of the stage before going into several of his trademark dance routines – the moonwalk included.
Talking to Billboard, BBMA Director and Producer Larry Klein says that while they were working on the piece, the actual process was still being developed; indeed producers of the awards didn’t even see any of the film until a week before the show.
“We’ve been talking about it for the last five months and while we were talking about it they were still inventing the process,” Klein says. “It was really strange talking about something that did not exist.”
Klein was happy with the end product – as well he should be – explaining that the team set out to shoot the whole piece to give the feel of a live performance. “You were watching the magic of Michael Jackson just like you would have when he was performing.”
Jackson’s lawyer and adviser John Branca added that the decision to use Slave to the Rhythm came about because it was “something people could dance to, a potential club song.”
He also went on to explain that although the demand for the hologram was considerable, the family felt as though it needed to be shown with a live audience. “It’s so important to experience Michael Jackson in a live setting,” Branca says. “This is something where we wanted a live performance in front of a live audience and nothing speaks to that more than an awards show.”
Read our full list of winners below:
Top Artist: Justin Timberlake
Top New Artist: Lorde
Top Male Artist: Justin Timberlake
Top Female Artist: Katy Perry
Top Duo/Group: Imagine Dragons
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Justin Timberlake
Top Hot 100 Artist: Imagine Dragons
Top Digital Songs Artist: Katy Perry
Top Radio Songs Artist: Justin Timberlake
Top Touring Artist: Bon Jovi
Top Social Artist: Justin Bieber
Top Streaming Artist: Miley Cyrus
Top R&B Artist: Justin Timberlake
Top Rap Artist: Eminem
Top Country Artist: Luke Bryan
Top Rock Artist: Imagine Dragons
Top Latin Artist: Marc Anthony
Top Dance/Electronic Artist: Daft Punk
Top Christian Artist: Chris Tomlin
Top Billboard 200 Album: Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
Top R&B Album: Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
Top Rap Album: Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Top Country Album: Luke Bryan, Crash My Party
Top Rock Album: Imagine Dragons, Night Visions
Top Latin Album: Marc Anthony, 3.0
Top Dance/Electronic Album: Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Top Christian Album: Alan Jackson, Precious Memories: Volume II
Top Hot 100 Song: Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Top Digital Song: Robin Thicke, Featuring T.I. & Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Top Radio Song: Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Top Streaming Song (Audio): Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
Top Streaming Song (Video): Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
Top R&B Song: Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell, “Blurred Lines”
Top Rap Song: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton, “Can’t Hold Us”
Top Country Song: Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly, “Cruise”
Top Rock Song: Lorde, “Royals”
Top Latin Song: Marc Anthony, “Vivir Mi Vida”
Top Dance/Electronic Song: Avicii, “Wake Me Up!”
Top Christian Song: Matthew West, “Hello, My Name Is”
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