The 2018 Billboard Music Awards are in the books, with Ed Sheeran the night's big winner, taking home six awards including the evening's most coveted award, Top Artist, as well as Top Male Artist, Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Song Sales Artist, Top Radio Artist, and Top Radio Song for “Shape of You."
Other multiple winners included Bruno Mars who nabbed five R&B honors, Imagine Dragons who won three awards, including Top Group and Taylor Swift, making her first award show appearance in two years, who took home trophies for Top Female Artist and Top Selling Album for “reputation.”
Other notable awards went to Luis Fonsi's "Despacito," which nabbed Top Hot 100 Song, Khalid, who won Top New Artist and Camila Cabello, who won the Billboard Chart Achievement honor. Click here for tonght's winners list.
The night kicked off with host Kelly Clarkson holding back tears as she talked about the shooting tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Being a Texan, Kelly was upset that “once again we are grieving over more children who died for absolutely no reason at all.” She then said that the show wanted her to do a moment of silence, but she shared, “I’m so sick of a moment of silence, it’s not working,” and then asked that we instead have a “moment of action” or a “moment of change.”
Kelly didn’t attempt to make any jokes as host, but instead did what she does best, sing, opening with a spectacular medley of covers including Maren Morris’ “My Church,” Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” (surrounded shirtless men) Khalid’s “Young Dumb and Broke,” Bruno Mars’ “Finesse,” Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” Shawn Mendes’ "There's Nothing Holding Me Back” and Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” with cameras catching Taylor singing along and mugging for the camera.
Janet Jackson was this year’s recipient of the Icon Award, with Bruno on hand to do the honors. Janet returned to the TV stage for the first time in nine years, wowing the crowd with a dance-heavy performance of “Nasty” “If” and “Throb,” although cameras kept pulling so far back into the audience you barely saw her half the time. In her speech she praised the time we are living in, a time when “women will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused.” She also acknowledged that we are in “a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh,” and said she looks to God during this time, noting, “everything we lack, God has in abundance."
The show also took time to pay tribute to an artist we lost this year, Swedish DJ Avicii, with The Chainsmokers and Halsey talking about the DJ and calling on folks to be aware of friends and family that may be struggling with mental issues.
Of course more than the winners, the night was about performances and there were certainly plenty of them. The night's performances included:
Ariana Grande opened the show with “No Tears Let To Cry,” which she started from on top of floating umbrellas, and had her dancing all around the stage as cameras followed close up.
Dua Lipa performed her hit “New Rules” surrounded by a bevy of female dancers and one giant flamingo.
Shawn Mendes performed his latest single “In My Blood,” surrounded by a sea of lights masquerading as flowers, which got Taylor and Camila Cabello on their feet (cameras, of course, caught it).
Khalid and Normani Kordei took the stage for a steamy performance of their collaboration “Love Lies.”
John Legend performed the tune “A Good Night” and sounded great although his young dancers may have stolen his spotlight, as did the adorable picture of his new son Miles at the end.
Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato brought their high-powered voices for a Diva-off on their collaboration “Fall In Line,” surrounded by dancers dressed as soldiers. The performance certainly left the audience wowed and on their feet. Even Tyra Banks could be seen saying it was “powerful.
Ed Sheeran performed “Galway Girl” live from his huge show outdoor in Dublin and was joined by Irish folk band Beoga, who helped co-write the song.
Jennifer Lopez debuted her new single “Dinero,” with an appearance by a cigar smoking DJ Khaled doing his usual crowd hyping and throwing money into the crowd as as J.Lo worked her butt off on stage surrounded by dancers. Cardi B also made an appearance but only by video.
Shawn Mendes and Khalid returned to the stage for a powerful performance of “Youth” and were joined by the show choir from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey performed their hit “The Middle” together live for the first time, which was marred by an overzealous confetti cannon. In fact there was so much confetti you could barely see them. (And that wasn't the only time it was an issue during the show.)
Macklemore & Kesha gave off a campfire vibe for their performance of “Good Ole Days” from outside the T-Mobile Arena.
Host Kelly Clarkson showed off her powerhouse voice with the funky “Whole Lotta Woman."
Camila Cabelo and Pharrell debuted their new track “Sangria Wine,” on a set that looked like two big pink lumps on the stage, with Pharrell once again making a fashion statement in a strange floral top and basketball shorts. Camila followed up that performance with a sultry take on her hit “Havana”
BTS performed the world premiere of their single “Fake Love,” which resulted in deafening screams from the crowd, with many female members in the audience near tears.
Finally Salt-N-Pepa closed the show with a celebration of their 30thanniversary of becoming the first female rap artists to land in the “Billboard” Hot 100 Top 40. The grop had the audience dancing as they performed a medley of some of their biggest hits including “Shoop,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “Push It,” and “Whatta Man,” featuring En Vogue and an appearance by Clarkson.