Highlights of the Billboard Music Awards from the inside

  /  05.22.2017

At this point I’ve covered countless awards show red carpets for REVOLT TV, but this is the first time I’ve actually gone inside the show itself. (Usually, we fall back to a hotel room and produce a special from the footage, or go in the press room and hear the winners give even longer acceptance speeches than they did on stage.) And being inside the room is an interesting experience! There are performances and speeches, obviously, but it is very much a television production, and that creates some strange energy.

Like, when Nicki Minaj did a nine-minute montage to begin, all of the cuts to her videos took up the big screens, so when Minaj popped up on the massive and dancer-packed stage, it was hard to know where to look. Lose a focal point, lose the audience. Which again, is fine for the TV folks at home, but if you’re in the room, it can be confusing.

On the other hand, being in the room at a show like this means you find yourself involuntarily standing as Celine Dion sings “My Heart Will Go On” as the screens display iconic scenes from Titanic and literally everybody in the room has goosebumps. This was legend status, and there wasn’t a person in the house in their seat or silent. Celine may not be the “coolest” singer in our culture, but her radiance and place in the conversation is forever; add to this her importance to the Vegas entertainment complex (her residency here was a game-changer for the city) and her personal struggles with death and illness, and you get a monumental moment even Luda had to pause to acknowledge. You don’t forget moments like this.

There were a few other moments which lit up the room. One was our chairman Sean “Diddy” Combs taking the stage to honor BIG on his 45th birthday. It was an occasion to hail the legendary Bed-Stuy spitter, and also to unleash the trailer to his Tribeca-premiering documentary about the Bad Boy 20th Anniversary tour (and so much more), Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. People actually shut up to watch this thing. Real big. Real BIG.

Other highlights: Drake’s acceptance speech after winning for “Fake Love,” spreading real love around the room, singlehandedly upping the vibe quotient. Cher getting a standing O after her performance of “Believe” and looking exactly the same as she did all those years ago with a quippy and sassy acceptance speech for her lifetime achievement award. There was the moment K-Pop phenoms BTS won and got the loudest crowd response by far – we’re talking like Beatles at Shea vibe here. And then there was Drake taking this Vegas showmanship thing to the next level performing inside the iconic Bellagio fountains like whoa. Granted, that wasn’t in the room, but we felt him even inside, while he was outdoors on the strip.

Overall, it was Drake’s night: The man gave quotable speeches, had a performance which lit up the strip, and won the big Best Artist award while simultaneously setting the record for most wins in a single year – bringing Weezy, Nicki, and his father up on stage with him, a proper Young Money moment which cemented the rise and reunion of some of this era’s absolute finest. Salute.


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