Highlights of the 2021 Billboard Music Awards

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The annual Billboard Music Awards (BBMA’s) premiered on May 23. Hosted by Nick Jonas, the award show featured fourteen performances including Alicia Keys, BTS, Doja Cat & SZA, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, P!nk, The Weeknd, and Twenty One Pilots. Presenters included Dixie D’Amelio, Gabrielle Union, Henry Golding, Leslie Odom Jr., and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. This year, the ceremony took place in the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California and was broadcasted by NBC. 

Since the 90’s, the Billboard Music Awards have been held annually and are awarded for outstanding chart performance. Awards are given out by Billboard, a reputable music industry publication known for reporting the music business and popularity charts. Some of the biggest awards of the night include Top Artist, Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Song Sales Artist, and Top Streaming Songs Artist. 

The Weeknd was the top contender of the night, taking home an outstanding total of ten awards including Top Artist, Top Male Artist, and Top Hot 100 Artist. He performed his hit single “Save Your Tears” later on in the night. Winners of other main categories include the late Pop Smoke for Top New Artist, Taylor Swift for Top Female Artist, BTS for Top Duo/Group, and Drake for Top Streaming Songs Artist. 

The show opened up to a breathtaking performance with Doja Cat and Sza, two amazing artists with trending tracks. They performed their hit “Kiss Me More,” clad in a stylish clothing ensemble and executed a show-stopping dance break. From the amazing voices of the powerful duo to the fashionable outfits of everyone on stage, Doja Cat and Sza opened up the annual award show and left  fans excited for what was next. 

Freshman Aiden Clarke said the “Kiss Me More” performance was his favorite of the night because it “featured two fantastic artists and performers that commanded the stage along with amazing background dances who helped to enhance the entertainment of the performance.” Additionally, Aiden said “It was one of the most ‘unique’ performances of the night and showed viewers and fans a better look at what we’ll be expecting during Doja Cat’s highly anticipated album and her ‘Planet Her’ era.”

One of the most highly anticipated performances of the night came with Alicia Keys, who performed a medley of hits from her Grammy award winning R&B debut album “Songs in A Minor.” Introduced by former first lady Michelle Obama, Keys took to the piano to sing “Piano & I” followed by “A Woman’s Worth,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” and one of her most famous songs to this day “Fallin.” The performance came two decades after her debut album was released, proving that Keys is what it means to be an artist who withstands the test of time. 

Out of all the performances, one of the most notable ones was P!nk’s, who showcased her captivating stage presence and appealed to nostalgia with some throwback tunes. She performed a medley of her previous decade’s hits “Get the Party Started,” “Just Like a Pill,” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss),” and “Just Give Me a Reason” with her more recent songs “Cover Me in Sunshine” and “All I Know So Far.” Fans were surprised to see P!nk’s 9-year old daughter Willow join her in the “Cover Me in Sunshine” aerial performance, carrying out wonderful vocals. Presented by rock star Jon Bon Jovi, P!nk also won the Icon Award and left fans with heartfelt messages. Before she walked off stage, she even left an inspiring message behind exclaiming, “Dream big, because what if it comes true?” 

Global superstars BTS performed their new single “Butter” whose music video broke their own record of most views within just 24 hours. Straight from South Korea, BTS put on a spectacular performance even modeling the Billboard Music Awards red carpet. The worldwide group then went on to receive 5 awards that night. 

The final performance of the night was the Jonas Brothers with Nick Jonas transitioning from host to performer and joining his brothers Joe and Kevin Jonas in front of a live audience outside the Microsoft Theater. They wrapped up the show with a medley of their latest hits, including the live debut of their newest collaboration “Leave Before you Love Me” with Marshmellow. Also included in the medley were “Only Human,” “Remember This,” “What a Man Gotta Do,” and their mega chart-topping hit “Sucker.” The energetic performance was topped off with a beautiful view of the Los Angeles sunset and bursts of fireworks from the stage. 

Whether you watched all three hours of the BBMA’s or caught your favorite artist’s performance later on YouTube, the Billboard Music Awards are a large part of pop culture and the music industry as a whole. The award show reflects what’s on the top of the charts right now, which is largely impacted by Generation Z and social media trends (specifically trending songs on TikTok). The diversity in genre and style within popular music today is a testament to the ever-changing nature of music consumption. With more award shows coming up this summer, it will be interesting to see which artists remain in the spotlight and what new ones come along.

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