Billboard Music Awards 2013: The Aftermath
A honest look back on an evening you may have missed and you probably wished you didn’t
Some of you didn’t watch the Billboard Music Awards this past Sunday. Some of you didn’t care to watch it. And some had no other choice but to watch it (that’s for avid fans of Prince and Madonna).
Just a quick recap on what’s most important: Taylor Swift took home the bulk of trophies by winning eight of 11 awards, including top artist and top Billboard 200 album for Red. She told the crowd: “You are the longest and best relationship I ever had.” The statement seemed like a reality-check for critics who bash her short relationships with boyfriends and her creative choice to talk about them in her music. Clearly, her hit regimen is working. Being crowned the leading artist at the Billboard awards only validated that assertion. Swift performed her newest single, “22,” using her now-famed circus-like sideshow. My estimation is that the song will probably become one of the summer’s biggest hits. And that has a lot to do with the show’s ratings. This year’s televised presentation of the Billboard Music Awards from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas generated a high volume of viewers, posting their highest numbers in 12 years.
Swift also won in all country categories, beating out all of her competition. A little light was shown on The Band Perry, on the other hand, when they performed live.
Lots of pop and electronica filled the air – typical for a Top 40 hit parade in 2013. David Guetta, the evening’s winner of Best EDM, performed with Ne-Yo and Akon on the light show spectacle, “Play Hard.” That performance was matched with Pitbull and Christina Aguilera‘s rap-sung duet on the synth-studded “Feel This Moment.” The song, which samples a-ha’s “Take On Me,” finally made the switch at the end to its original inspiration. As a surprise, a-ha lead singer Morten Harket emerged to the platform, reprising his high notes on the ’80’s throwback. Typical from most black kids who poke fun at anything this retro or New Wave-ish, one of the camera shots instantly glued to the unimpressed face of an unknown person in attendance. If you didn’t grow up in this era of great music, you wouldn’t understand. Eighties babies were raised on MTV, today’s generation is being raised on Real Housewives of Atlanta. One has talent, the other doesn’t.
In other news, Chris Brown showed off his best MJ impersonation, but he clearly proved he’s a better dancer than singer. Opting to sing live, his vocals started to crack immediately and never regained confidence. At times, the performance was unbearable to watch. Still, Brown groupies tried to salvage his reputation online by posting comments like, “At least he’s singing live.” At the show, Kid Rock – who presented the award for Best Rap Song, even added to the comical gesture by saying “Let’s give it up for people lip-synching under pre-recorded music.” Not sure if that was a jab at Selena Gomez, who showed how bad lip-synching looks on her ode to porn music on “Come and Get It,” or a stab at Chris Brown’s attempt at live singing, but Kid Rock got a few giggles with his joke.
Justin Bieber, the evening’s most obvious lip-syncher, performed the fan voted “Take You” and also dueted with will.i.am. on “Power.” But his mic was definitely on when it came time for him to pick up his win for the Milestone Award, which is a fan voted trophy. He bested his competition, Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. And that may have gotten more than a few people rallied up. While Bieber was prepping his speech, the room was lit with a dark electricity. He decided to face the brutal weeks of controversy before the crowd. Clearly, this was not the place for this kind of rant, which probably explains the roar of boos coming from the audience.
“I’m 19 years old; I think I’m doing a pretty good job. And basically from my heart I really just want to say it should really be about the music, it should be about the craft that I’m making. This is not a gimmick…I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously and all this other bull [inaudible] should not be spoken.”
And right then and there, Bieber was confronted with a surprising sea of disapproval. Bieber looked uncomfortable, thanked Jesus and his Beliebers and then left the stage.
The Bieber moment was just one of the evening’s odd moments. When rapper/singer Nicki Minaj performed “High School” with her Cash Money protege Lil Wayne, she decided to whip out a very risque Showgirls lapdance on him, even tossing out suggestive quirks with her fingers alluding to even more X-rated banter. If you see a swarm of Nicki Minaj video circulating on the Net with “Billboard 2013” attached to it, be reminded that it should be marked with [NSFW] tags. That lapdance was so raunchy that it explains how she got signed to American Idol. Just follow the money trail.
R&B/soul singer Miguel also exposed one of the evening’s most talked about odd moments, when he decided to do an Olympic jump from one end of the stage to another. He seemed to have landed part of his body on one fan named Khyati, who walked away, and kicked another, who held her head low. The singer tried to fake off the fall by posing as if nothing happened. But the fall on his ass – which should attract the attention of Vince McMahon at WWE – had Twitter lit like a Christmas tree. Funny jokes and GIF files were popping up everywhere. It has been reported that the injured are recovering and no one was seriously hurt. As for Khyati, she should change her name – clearly “karate” is not her best friend.
On a much lighter note, Madonna showed off her best Madeline Khan-in-Blazing Saddles moment when she took to the stage to accept her victory for Best Touring Artist:
Her LiveNation-sponsored MDNA tour grossed over $305.2 million, becoming the tenth highest-grossing tour of all time and surpassing Celine Dion’s Taking Chances Tour as the second highest-grossing tour among female artists, behind Madonna’s own Sticky & Sweet Tour.
The evening’s best performances, although Beliebers will appraise anything he does as being colossal, were geared towards the evening’s opener and closer. Bruno Mars, who electrified the audience with his eye-piercing disco inferno lighting, took to the stage with “Treasure,” while Prince, the recipient of the Icon Award, showed off some Led Zeppelin riffing on a rock-fueled “Let’s Go Crazy” and then sliding into “FixUrLifeUp”. His hair was picked into a Hendrix-tinged natural and his ten-minute performance resurrected the power of rock using Prince’s electric guitar solos.
The Billboard Music Awards gave the bulk of their trophies during a pre-telecast show with Swift, One Direction, .fun, Gotye and Maroon 5 taking home honors, but the telecast is really all about the live performances. While we’ve cherry picked the very good, some were pretty decent. Ed Sheeran showed off a more intimate and acoustic version of “Lego House” while Jennifer Lopez showed the world she’s still got her Fly Girl dance moves on her Pitbull-guested “Live it Up.” Korean rap star PSY managed to pull of an impromptu duel with show host Tracy Morgan on a pre-recorded “Gentleman.” Breakout rap act duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis showed off their “Thrift Shop” hit, which won the award for Best Rap Song, beating Kanye West, PSY and Flo Rida. He thanked the fans who took his indie hit to the top of the charts, while also giving out some shout-outs to some unpredictable company: “First of all, we gotta thank Goodwill, we gotta thank Value Village!” Their live performance of “Thrift Shop” was taped in another building and aired during the live broadcast.
For those who seriously care to read who won big this year, here’s a list of the award winners.