By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Thousands of music fans and their favorite recording artists packed into the MGM Grand Garden Arena for one epic night of spectacular performances.
The night kicked off with the worldwide premiere of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video that featured an all-star cast of superstars such as Ellie Goulding, Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham, Karlie Kloss and Kendrick Lamar. Ms. Swift combined Charlie’s Angels, the Avengers and Kill Bill into one spectacular video. After the premiere, Ms. Swift introduced the audience to Van Halen.
Van Halen’s David Lee Roth strutted around the stage as the group performed their classic “Panama.” The iconic rocker’s vocals were superb and the band’s recognizable sound got everybody from Britney to J-Lo on their feet and dancing. It was a great way to start the show.
As the band left the stage, our illustrious hosts for the evening, Ludacris and Christy Teigen, cat-walked onto the stage, drank a shot and instigated a crowd duel. Christy even started a drinking game—every time Christy made Luda smiled…the audience drank.
Lily Aldridge and Charli XCX presented the first award of the night! One Direction beat out 5 Seconds of Summer, Florida Georgia Line, Magic and Maroon 5 to win Top Duo/Group. This award was the first time the group accepted award with Zayn Malik…who departed the group earlier this year. During their speech, Liam stated that they also shared this award with their brother: Zayn.
As Taylor talked to Laverne, Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa sang the praises of the Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction and Batman & Robin actress Uma Thurman. I loved seeing the dancers dress like Thurman’s Mia Wallace and reenact Thurman’s dance with John Travolta from the Quentin Tarantino film.
The Bachelorettes introduced Team Xtina advisor Nick Jonas, who performed his massive hit song: “Jealous.” While some performers might have relied heavily on auto-tuned microphones, Nick Jonas delivered a nice vocal and perfectly utilized his falsetto for his performance.
Chrissy introduced her husband, John Legend, and his duet partner: Meghan Trainor. The duo performed their collaboration, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” for the very first time. I loved seeing the “All of Me” singer away from his piano and he showcased terrific harmonies with the “All About That Bass” songwriter.
Idina Menzel had the honor of introducing Mariah Carey to the Billboard Music Awards audience. This marked the first time that the Las Vegas headliner returned to the Billboard stage to perform since her last appearance in 1998. While Ms. Carey performed “Vision of Love” in her lower register, the “Hero” singer reached to the skies when she performed “Infinity.” Welcome back, Mariah!!!!!
Danica McKellar presented Top Rap Song to Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX for their collaboration: “Fancy.” Ms. Azalea praised Charli for helping her have a successful 2014! Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson introduced Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth and Lindsey Stirling who paid tribute to the late Paul Walker with their hit: “See You Again.” From the first few notes, I knew that it was going to be an amazing tribute and all three performers delivered some of their best work.
Celine Dion returned to the BBMAs in style as she presented Top Male Artist to the absent Sam Smith, who is recovering from vocal surgery. Using cue cards, he thanked his fans and gave special requests for friends Taylor Swift (put $100 on black), Nicki Minaj (used a phrase of her hit-“Anaconda”) and Ed Sheeran (he arranged a special dance at Chippendales for the “Lego House” singer).
Ms. Cookie Lyon herself, Taraji P. Henson, introduced Empire castmates Yazz, Jussie Smollett and Estelle, who honored the music of the hit FOX show. Jamal’s portrayer kicked off the medley with Estelle on “Conqueror.” Yazz (Hakeem) joined Jussie on a quick but fantastic rendition of “You’re So Beautiful.”
As the trio exited, Hozier entered the arena and performed his groundbreaking hit: “Take Me to Church.” While he did not have Annie Lennox to back him up on stage, the Irish singer-songwriter delivered a fantastic vocal performance that brought the crowd to its feet.
The room got louder when Harry, Liam, Niall and Louis presented the Top Radio Song to John Legend for his superb goose-bump inducing “All of Me.” Mr. Legend thanked his inspiration, wife Chrissy Teigen, his teams and fans. As the quintet left the stage, Ludacris paid tribute to late Blues icon B.B. King.
Florida Georgia Line introduced their friends, Little Big Town and Faith Hill, who performed the group’s hit: “Girl Crush.” I loved hearing Faith Hill perform this hit with the group and it was one of the evening’s outstanding collaborations.
Dr. Meredith Grey herself, Ellen Pompeo, presented the Top Female Artist award to Taylor Swift herself. Ms. Swift named dropped her favorite famous girlfriends and her fans whom taught her teen slang. One Direction returned to the stage to collect the Top Touring Artist award, the quartet stated that they would be returning to Las Vegas in July.
Las Vegas’ future queen and American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez presented her buddies, Pitbull and Chris Brown, who brought “Fun” to the Billboard Music Awards. While Mr. Brown rocked a silk red suit and amazing dance moves, it seemed like he was lip-synching his latest hit.
Zendaya had the honor of introducing Ed Sheeran, who strummed his hit: “Bloodstream” for the audience. While he hit some bum notes during “Bloodstream,” he delivered one of the most artistic performances of the night. I am calling it now…he is the millennial generation’s Lindsey Buckingham!
50 Cent and Rita Ora teamed up to announce the winner of the Top 100 Song of the past year. Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” beat out John Legend’s “All of Me,” Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to win the award and was crowned one of the new Billboard queens.
As Meghan Trainor left the stage, the show headed over to Planet Hollywood’s the AXIS Theatre to where Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea performed their collaboration, “Pretty Girls,” live for the first time. The two blonde bombshells took the audience into their neon world filled with countless dancers.
Back at the MGM Grand, Prince Royce presented Taylor Swift for her third award of the night: the Billboard Chart Achievement Award. Taylor thanked her fans and gave a gracious shout out to Iggy and Meghan. As Ms. Swift triumphantly left the stage, Fifth Harmony introduced Nicki Minaj and David Guetta. The “Anaconda” singer hit the stage with her song: “The Night is Still Young.” Next, frequent collaborator David Guetta joined the rapper on stage for their duet: “Hey Mama.”
Rising pop star and Scooter Braun’s latest protégé Tori Kelly delivered a powerful rendition of “Nobody Love.” I loved hearing her vocals and I commend her for performing with only an acoustic guitar by her side. As Tori left the stage, iconic actress Molly Ringwald paid homage to the Breakfast Club and the late John Hughes by introducing Simple Minds. The band performed one of my all-time favorite songs from my birth decade: “Don’t You Forget About Me” I got chills and it was awesome to see Molly Ringwald sandwiched between Taylor and Ed.
The Pentatonix guys introduced their tour mate—Kelly Clarkson, who introduced her new single, “Invincible,” to the Billboard Music Awards audience. She brought the house down with her killer vocals. After Kelly left the stage, Florida Georgia Line received the Top Country Artist award and Las Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons performed their rendition of “Stand By Me” that honored the late Ben E. King.
The Entourage guys delivered the night’s biggest award—Top Artist to the Queen of the Night: Ms. Taylor Swift! She dedicated this award to the Class of 2015 and plugged the 1989 World Tour. After receiving a mixed reaction from the Billboard crowd, Kendall and Kylie Jenner introduced their brother-in-law Kanye West, who delivered an explicative and fiery cover of “All Day.” The censors must be having a field day because they were muting half of Kanye’s performance.