A new crop of winners were crowned at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards in a night that was filled with explosive musical performances. Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lamar each took home six awards, including Top Artist and Top Male Artist for Sheeran and Top Billboard 200 Album and Top Rap Album for Lamar’s fourth studio album DAMN. Kelly Clarkson dazzled in her first-ever awards show hosting gig and a star-studded list of superstars hit the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to deliver some unforgettable moments, including Janet Jackson receiving this year’s ICON Award.
Here’s a look at five of the greatest moments from the 2018 BBMAs.
Overall, Kelly Clarkson did a fantastic job in hosting her first awards show. Her emotional, call-to-action opening message in response to the recent school shooting tragedy in her home state of Texas was one of the most memorable moments of the night. Instead of asking the audience to heed a request for a moment of silence for the victims, the “Stronger” singer fought back tears as she said, “I’m so sick of moment of silence. It’s not working, obviously. So, why don’t we not do a moment of silence. Why don’t we do a moment of action. Why don’t we do a moment of change. Why don’t we change what’s happening …” Our hearts and prayers are continually with the Santa Fe victims and their loved ones and Clarkson’s heartfelt message was a moving, unforgettable moment.
2. Janet Jackson Performs/Receives the ICON Award
Like her famous Jackson 5 brothers, Janet Jackson has been working in the music and entertainment industry at a very young age. Her prolific career spans over four decades and she has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. The seasoned music and dance diva hit the BBMAs stage to deliver an electric medley of some of her biggest hits “Nasty,” “If,” and “Throb.” It was her first live TV performance in nine years and she smashed it.
Jackson is notably the first black woman to receive the ICON Award and she seized her acceptance speech moment to talk about the gains women have made saying, “I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when at long last women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind.” The audience erupted into cheers and applause.
3. Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato Deliver TV Debut of “Fall in Line”
Speaking of divas and female empowerment, fans got a dazzling double dose when power vocalists Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato delivered their TV debut performance of their new collab hit “Fall in Line.” The pair of superstars were dressed in black leather and surrounded by soldiers on the stage as they vocally duked it out by doing mind-blowing riffs and runs. The track’s bold message rang loud and clear as they declared in the chorus, “I wasn’t made to fall in line/No, I wasn’t made to fall in line …” In short, they slew the song and created a fierce, inspiring BBMAs moment.
4. Shawn Mendes, Khalid and Parkland Student Choir Take a Musical Stand Against School Violence
Shawn Mendes kept the inspirational light emblazoned when he teamed with 2018 Billboard Music Awards Top New Artist winner Khalid and 12 members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from Parkland, Florida honored school shooting victims and anyone who has lost someone via gun violence by performing Mendes’ song “Youth” The 19-year-old Canadian native singer-songwriter played guitar as Khalid (who wore a Protect Our Children t-shirt) started off singing. They joined together on the chorus, along with the choir students who lined the stage on either side of them wearing shirts that said “Youth.”
It was impossible not to become emotional while watching everyone sing about fighting to preserve innocence in such dark and troubled times., “Pain but I won’t let it turn into hate/ I won’t let it change me/ You can’t take my youth away.” The performance was arguably the most moving performance of the night. (Watch the performance above).
5. Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue Revel in Retro Hip-Hop/R&B Bliss
Anyone who grew up in the Salt-N-Pepa era (and beyond) was ready to rock when the female rap pioneers took the stage and delivered a super hot medley of their iconic hits like “Shoop,” “Push It, “Let’s Talk About Sex” and their collab with En Vogue “Whatta Man.” While this BBMA ceremony was filled with many sad, beautiful, and powerful musical messages, these two supergroups delivered an infectiously danceable finale performance that could arguably be dubbed the most fun live set of an extraordinary night.