2019 Billboard Music Awards: Highs And Lows

The 2019 Billboard Music Awards were handed out Wednesday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena during a three-hour live broadcast hosted by Kelly Clarkson.

Click here for coverage of who won what (Spoiler alert: It was a big night for Drake!).

The show itself kicked off with a drumline (that included the likes of Diplo) marching down the aisles before Taylor Swift’s performance of “ME!” with Brendon Urie.

Anyone who has heard the song since it was released last week knew there was no way a marching band wouldn’t be part of Swift’s BBMAs performance but that didn’t stop a lot of folks from taking to social media to unfairly accuse the pop star of ripping off Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella performance. (Come on, marching bands and choirs are staples of awards show performances.)

The show ended with extraordinarily talented 56-year-old dancer Paula Abdul mouthing the words to some of her big hits. Straight up, we’re going to love her forever.

The BBMAs are not the place for surprises, of course, given that winners are determined by sales, airplay, touring and social media numbers. The show also avoids the awkward  “I’ll accept this award on his behalf” because the only categories announced on air are ones where the winners are present.

Here are some of the highs and lows, in no particular order, of the 2019 Billboard Music Awards:

Spread The Love

We were definitely feeling the love during the acceptance speeches at this year’s BBMAs.

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons used his time at the mic to shine a light on conversion therapy in the U.S. and the harm it causes LGBTQ youth – a message that apparently resonated with Julia Michaels, who was on her feet.

Cardi B urged people to support their favourite artists. “Stream their music, listen to their music, tell a friend to tell a friend about their music,” she said. “Be the biggest fans that you can be.”

Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley also encouraged positivity. “At the end of the day, it’s all for nothing if you’re not using your platform for better, if you’re not using your platform to spread love,” he said, “to help those in need, to be a light to your community … Let’s create a life that’s bigger than ourselves.”

Drake showed love for Arya Stark of Game of Thrones and his mother Sandi Graham (for wildly different reasons). He also urged his fellow artists to be kind to each other. “Let them know that you love and respect them … while we’re all still here,” said Drake. “Just show somebody some love. Tell somebody you love their music or love what they do.” Sure, it was a bit rich given the public beefs Drake has been a part of… but we’ll take it.

And, Mariah Carey got us feeling emotions when she praised her loyal fans as “unlike any other entity that I've ever known.” She gushed: “They’ve lifted me out of the depths of hell and brought me back with their devotion and love.”

When Do Tickets Go On Sale?

The Jonas Brothers gave fans a preview of what to expect on their just-announced tour with a sizzling BBMAs performance.

Nick and Joe started by singing each other’s songs – “Jealous” and “Cake By The Ocean” – before joining Kevin on stage to do their comeback banger “Sucker.”

(Oh, tickets for the Happiness Begins Tour go on sale May 10.)

That Syncing Feeling

Look, we get it: Dancing and singing on live TV is not always easy if you want to sound perfect – but can you at least try to look like you’re not lip-syncing?

It was obvious that most of the BBMA performances were either mimed or sung over a vocal track. BTS threw in a few live raps, and Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie briefly went live to shout-out the Billboard Music Awards.

But, Madonna and Paula Abdul didn’t even make an effort to pretend they were actually singing. (Madonna gets a pass because her hologram effects were admittedly cool.)

It’s no wonder the biggest ovations from the industry crowd were for Mariah Carey, Dan + Shay with Tori Kelly, Lauren Daigle, and Kelly Clarkson – all of whom sang.

Show Up Or Don’t

Can we stop inserting pre-taped performances into awards shows?

Before the show, Ariana Grande shared on Instagram: “So wish we were there with u in person tonight.” She thanked the BBMAs “for having us perform for u remotely” from her Sweetener World Tour.

In fact, Grande’s performance of “7 Rings” on the BBMAs was taped last week during her Vancouver concert.

Swift Reactions

Taylor Swift was one of the biggest stars at this year’s BBMAs so it was no surprise the camera cut to her in the audience numerous times.

Viewers got a lot of shots of the reigning queen of ham (sorry, Céline) singing along, laughing, dancing, holding her hand over her mouth… well, you get the idea.


At least it was more tolerable than the frequent shots of BTS in the front row, which sparked shrieks from the young fans in the nose-bleed seats.

That’s Miss Jackson, If You’re Nasty

Ciara’s new song “Thinkin Bout You” has major Janet Jackson vibes so it’s no wonder she channeled the pop star for her BBMAs performance. The look, the moves, the dancers – it was all so Rhythm Nation.

Girl Power

A certain rapper formerly known as Jimmy Brooks may have dominated the BBMAs this year but the night truly belonged to female artists.

The show was a veritable celebration of women: Madonna, Paula Abdul, Taylor Swift, Halsey, Lauren Daigle, Tori Kelly, Ciara, Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey and Cardi B. And, of course, Kelly Clarkson who not only hosted the show but belted out a 12-song medley at the top of the show and her new single “Broken & Beautiful.”