Drake won multiple honors at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards and encouraged the audience of musicians to give their peers their flowers while they’re still alive.
“We’ve obviously had like an unfortunate series of losses within our business, and I just want to encourage everybody to let other artists know how you feel about them,” Drake said as he accepted top male artist Wednesday. “Let them know that you love them (and) respect them while we’re all still here.”
Drake could have been referring to a number of deaths in the music industry, from Nipsey Hussle to Aretha Franklin.
The rap star, who walked into Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena with 17 nominations, also won top Billboard 200 album, beating out Cardi B, Travis Scott, Post Malone and the late XXXTentacion.
BTS was also having a major night. At the Billboard Awards and American Music Awards, the K-pop band had only previously won “social” awards based off their fanatic fan base, but on Wednesday BTS picked up top duo/group, besting Grammy-winning groups like Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and Dan + Shay.
“I still can’t believe we’re here on this stage with so many great artists,” RM said as fans screamed loudly. “We’re still the same boys from six years ago, we still have the same dreams … we still have the same thoughts. Let us keep dreaming.”
Imagine Dragons did pick up top rock artist, and band leader Dan Reynolds used his speech to highlight the dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. He earned rousing applause.
The show was a family affair: Ciara’s husband, NFL player Russell Wilson, and young son danced along while she worked the stage, and Nick and Joe Jonas gave kisses to Priyanka Chopra and Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame when they sang in the audience before hitting the stage.
Cardi B, the night’s top nominee with 21, locked lips with husband Offset on the red carpet and the couple sat closely inside the venue. She will compete for top artists along with Drake, Scott, Malone and Ariana Grande.
Taylor Swift kicked off the show when she brought her new music video to life with a colorful, eye-popping performance of her song “ME!” She was backed by dancers wearing bright, pastel colors and her featured guest — Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco — descended from the ceiling holding an umbrella
A marching band kicked off Swift’s performance — like most of the world, maybe Swift was inspired by Beyonce’s new Coachella film? Dancers also spun in the air holding umbrellas.
Swift is the most decorated winner in the history of the Billboard Awards with 23 wins. She is nominated for two awards at the show airing live on NBC — top female artist and top touring artist.
Kelly Clarkson is hosting the show for a second time — and sang a medley of hits following Swift’s performance, from Cardi B’s “I Like It” to “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai, who won the first award of the evening, top R&B artist.
Clarkson will also perform later in the show. Other performers include Madonna with Maluma, BTS with Halsey, Paula Abdul, Panic! at the Disco, Lauren Daigle, Ciara and Mariah Carey, who will receive the Icon Award.
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