Chris Haston/NBCDrake walked off with 12 trophies — including Top Male Artist, Top 200 album for Scorpion, and the biggest award of the night, Top Artist — at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, airing live Wednesday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on NBC.
Drake’s wins last night bring his career BBMA wins to a record-breaking 27. The previous record of 23 was held by Taylor Swift, who was front row to witness Drake’s wins.
While picking up the Top Artist award, the “God’s Plan” rapper thanked his mom for “all the times you drove me to piano when I didn’t want to take piano, all the times you drove me to basketball and hockey. That clearly didn’t work out. You know, all the times you drove me to Degrassi.”
He added, “You were always there to give me a ride and now we’re all on one hell of a ride.”
Earlier, while picking up his male artist award, Drake called attention to the “unfortunate series of losses within our business,” referring to artist deaths. He encouraged everyone to “let other artists know how you feel about them. Let them know what you love them, respect them…while we’re all still here.”
Cardi B, Maroon 5, Ella Mai, country star Luke Combs and Lauren Daigle were among the night’s other big winners.
Top Rock Artist winners Imagine Dragons used their acceptance speech to address the fact that 34 states, containing 58 percent of the LGBTPQ population, have no laws banning conversion therapy.
“This can change, but it’s going to take all of us talking to our state legislation, pushing forward laws to protect our LGBTQ youth,” said the band’s frontman, Dan Reynolds.
Cardi B, who won six awards overall urged her fans, “If you have a favorite artist, support them and their music, listen to their music, tell a friend to tell a friend about their music to get them on the charts.” She also teased a new fashion line and new music on the way.
Billboard Icon Award winner Mariah Carey delivered a medley of her hits, including “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions,” “We Belong Together,” and “Hero.” After opening her speech with a shout-out to her kids Monroe and Moroccan in the audience, Mariah confessed, “Icon? I really don’t think of myself in that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself, and I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing.”
Taylor Swift opened the show with the broadcast premiere of her new song, “ME!,” featuring Panic! At the Disco‘s Brendon Urie. Ushered out by a drum line dressed in pink, Taylor took the stage, along with backing dancers in pastel colors — continuing the theme from the song’s music video. Urie literally dropped in, holding an umbrella as he flew down from the ceiling a la Mary Poppins. The number ended with aerialists hovering above the stage.
Kelly Clarkson, hosting the BBMAs for the second year in row, spoofed her seat filler mix-up from the Academy of Country Music Awards last month. Clarkson was seated next to Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Terry Crews last night when a security guard, played by former pro football player Rob Gronkowski, asked her to move so that Florida Georgia Line‘s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard could have the seats.
Kelly attempted to prove who she was by tearing into a medley of songs by Maroon 5, Cardi B, and Panic! At the Disco, among others, but even former American Idol judge Paula Abdul — who launched Kelly’s career by crowning her the first American Idol — couldn’t seem to identify her.
Adbul made it up to Clarkson later, following a high-energy medley of her classic hits — including “Straight Up,” “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me,” “Opposites Attract,” “Cold Hearted” and “Forever Your Girl” — when the two embraced.
Another performance featured the recently reunited Jonas Brothers, who performed a medley of their hits, both solo and as a band, including Nick‘s’ “Jealous,” “Cake by the Ocean” by Joe‘s band, DNCE, and the sibling trio’s latest hit, “Sucker.”
Ariana Grande, winner of two trophies, including Top Female and the Chart Achievement Award, was in Vancouver, Canada on her Sweetener tour and couldn’t make it to the show. However, she still managed to delight the crowd with a performance of her hit “7 Rings”, live via satellite.
Madonna and Colombian singer performer Maluma performed their new song, “Medellin,” from Madonna’s upcoming album, Madame X, debuting June 14. The performance, which reportedly cost $5 million to stage, featured changing sets and holograms of multiple Madonnas in various outfits, who magically appeared and disappeared, while videos played on a giant screen behind them. The performance ended in a big finish that seemed to feature a cast of hundreds.
Other performances included BTS and Halsey performing their new collabo “Boy With Luv,” Dan + Shay singing “Speechless” with Tori Kelly, Lauren Daigle singing “You Say” and Panic! at the Disco singing “Hey Look Ma, I Made It.”
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