5 must-see moments from the 2021 Billboard Music Awards
1. DJ Khaled, HER and Migos
After a year without live music, DJ Khaled, HER and Migos have re-energized an impatient masked audience in 2021 Billboard Music Award. To kick off the awards ceremony hosted by Joe Jonas at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, the dynamic trio premiered “We Going Crazy” on stage.
Drummers and horn players enriched the live rendition of the song from DJ Khaled’s latest record which became his No. 1 third album on the Billboard 200 earlier this month. The album featured hip-hop headliners like Jay-Z, Nas, Drake and Lil Wayne. But, it shows the evolution of the genre, welcoming emerging and groundbreaking artists including Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, Roddy Ricch, and more.
2. Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Ann Nesby and the Sounds of Darkness
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their song “Optimistic”, legendary songwriter-producer duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis teamed up with soul and gospel singers Ann Nesby and the Sounds of Blackness for a moving rendition of the 1991 hit.
They performed the choral performance of Paisley Park in the duo’s hometown of Minneapolis, “a place that, musically, has always represented change to the status quo.” On the pitch, where George Floyd was assassinated in May 2020 and Daunte Wright in April 2021, the performance featured photos of the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept through the city and at times, in multiple countries, since.
“Faith is the key to making positive change,” the duo insisted. Today, three decades later, “Optimist” continues to help restore that faith in the future of a divided nation.
3. Jonas Brothers with Marshmello
Kelsea Ballerini hosted the Jonas Brothers and Marshmello on stage for the final performance. The country-pop crossover artist, who recently announced that she will join Kevin, Nick and Joe Jonas on the road this summer for their Remember this tour, joked that it was a suitable opportunity and expressed enthusiasm for their next race.
Disney debuts turned global pop phenomena kicked off their performance with their new song, “Leave Before You Love Me,” which they released on Friday, May 21 with Marshmello. They then returned to their iconic discography dating from 2005.
They also previewed their all-new “Remember This” – an upcoming feature for the 2021 Summer Olympics.
4. P! NK – Icon Award
After Bon Jovi introduced P! NK the BillboardIcon Award, the pop artist confirmed the accolade was well deserved with a theatrical blend of his hits spanning the past two decades. She started out suspended in the air with her daughter, Willow, to perform their recent duet, “Cover Me In Sunshine”. After her feet returned to the stage, she continued through other highlights of her career including “Get The Party Started” and “Give Me A Reason”.
P! NK is the tenth artist to receive the award – after Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Garth Brooks. The Icon Award “recognizes outstanding artists who have achieved excellence on the Billboard charts and left an indelible mark on the music itself.” At 41, P! NK is now the youngest recipient of the trophy.
The artist describes this honor as “a real ‘pinch me’ moment and I feel humble and blessed.”
5. Drake – Artist of the Decade
Nominated for Best Artist, Best Male Artist, Best Billboard 200 Artist, Best Top 100 Artist, Best Streaming Song (“Life Is Good”) and Best Rap Artist, Drake was honored as Billboard Artist of the Decade. The lasting rap act brought his son Adonis on stage to accept the award presented by his friends and family.
His next album Boy in love certified, announced last fall, is still in preparation. But he took care of other projects, including the one in March. Scary Hours 2– a follow-up of 2018 Scary hours EP.
“The truth is, I’m really bad at accepting compliments,” he said, his son clutching his left leg. “I am really embarrassed by my music. Even though I do a good job, I still wonder how I could have done it better.
His advice is to “continue in the hope of finding the formula”.
Catch more from the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, here.
Photos by NBC Universal