The 2021 Billboard Music Awards were hosted by Nick Jonas Sunday night, and aired live from the Microsoft Theater in L.A. on NBC. Because this is 2021 and we’re just emerging from a rampaging pandemic, the festivities were a little different this year. Still, they were several bedazzled steps up from last year, and featured a mix of remote and in-person performances.
This time around, the party got started courtesy of an energetic performance from DJ Khaled. Jonas then welcomed the audience, celebrating the fact that “we are all back together again” with COVID precautions in place.
Going in, The Weeknd was a finalist in 16 categories, including Top Artist, with DaBaby following in 11 categories, including as a multi-finalist in the Top Streaming Song category for “Rockstar” and “Whats Poppin.” The late Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD were up for posthumous nods.
Ultimately, The Weeknd won big. His bag of awards included Top Artist, Top Male Artist, Top 100 Artist, Top 100 Song, Top R&B Artist, Top R&B Album, Top R&B Song and Top Radio Songs Artist.
HIGHLIGHTS & PERFORMANCES
Presenters included Lena Waithe, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Henry Golding, Dixie D’Amelio, Lil Rel Howery, Gabrielle Union, Kelsea Ballerini, Chelsea Handler, Kathryn Hahn, Padma Lakshmi, Tina Knowles-Lawson and Swizz Beatz.
Doja Cat and SZA performed a smoking “Kiss Me More.”
21 Pilots hit the stage to rock “Shy Away.”
Alicia Keys was honored two decades after the R&B became a household name by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Keys then performed a medley of her hits from her star-making album, Songs in A Minor.
AJR came out with a “Bang!”
Bon Jovi toasted Pink‘s artistry before presenting her with the Icon Award for 2021. She joined the ranks of Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson; she also performed a medley of her hits and then thanked her fans and reminded everyone to “dream big.”
The Weeknd thanked his fans and said “the dawn is coming” as he accepted the award for Top 100 Song.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis performed “Optimistic” with Sounds of Blackness and Ann Nesby.
Karol G performed a medley of her hits “Bichota” and “El Makinon.”
Rapper and social activist Trae Tha Truth snagged the second annual Change Maker Award. He said: “Me, I come from the streets. We’ve got to protect our women, our children and our elders.”
BTS beamed in from South Korea to perform “Butter.”
Bad Bunny performed “Te Deseo Lo Mejor” from his 2020 album El Último Tour Del Mundo, which made history as the first all-Spanish-language album to hit No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.
Machine Gun Kelly reminded fans to not let the “universe take a dream from you.” He also thanked his “twin soul” for showing him “love,” presumably a reference to girlfriend Megan Fox. (The pair packed on the PDA on the red carpet; he painted his tongue black ahead of the show).
Glass Animals delivered “Heat Waves.”
The Weeknd brought “Blinding Lights.”
Pop Smoke’s mother, Audrey Jackson, accepted the award for Top Billboard 200 Album posthumously.
Duran Duran performed a medley including “Hungry Like a Wolf” and “Notorious” from London.
Drake accepted the Artist of the Decade Award with humility and grace. He holds the record for the most Billboard Music Awards, with 27, and breaking several Billboard records, including have nine No. 1 albums and 33 top 10 songs on the Hot 100. “Being so unsure how you get it done … feeling so lucky and blessed, the fear of losing it keeps you up at night.”
Billboard 2021 Winners Include:
Top Artist: The Weeknd
Top 100 Artist: The Weeknd
Top Selling Song: BTS “Dynamite”
Top 100 Song: The Weeknd “Blinding Lights”
Top Billboard 200 Album: Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon
Top Rap Song: DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch, “ROCKSTAR”
Top Rock Artist: Machine Gun Kelly
Top New Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Male Artist: The Weeknd
Top Female Artist: Taylor Swift
Top Duo/Group: BTS
Top Billboard 200 Artist: Taylor Swift
Top Streaming Songs Artist: Drake
Top Song Sales Artist: BTS
Top Radio Songs Artist: The Weeknd
Top Social Artist (Fan Voted): BTS
Artist of the Decade: Drake
Top R&B Artist: The Weeknd
Top R&B Male Artist: The Weeknd
Top R&B Female Artist: Doja Cat
Top Rap Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Rap Male Artist: Pop Smoke
Top Rap Female Artist: Megan Thee Stallion
Top Country Artist: Morgan Wallen
Top Country Female Artist: Gabby Barrett
Top Country Male Artist: Morgan Wallen
Top Country Duo/Group: Florida Georgia Line
Top Latin Artist: Bad Bunny
Top Latin Male Artist: Bad Bunny
Top Latin Duo/Group: Eslabón Armado
Top Latin Female Artist: Karol G
Top Dance/Electronic Artist: Lady Gaga
Top Christian Artist: Elevation Worship
Top Gospel Artist: Kanye West
Top R&B Album: The Weeknd
Top Rap Album: Pop Smoke, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon
Top Country Album: Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album
Top Rock Album: Machine Gun Kelly, Tickets to My Downfall
Top Latin Album: Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG
Top Dance/Electronic Album: Lady Gaga, Chromatica
Top Christian Album: Carrie Underwood, My Gift
Top Gospel Album: Maverick City Music, Maverick City Vol. 3 Part 1
Top Streaming Song: DaBaby ft. Roddy Ricch, “ROCKSTAR”
Top Radio Song: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
Top Collaboration (Fan Voted): Gabby Barrett ft. Charlie Puth, “I Hope”
Top R&B Song: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
Top Country Song: Gabby Barrett, “I Hope”
Top Rock Song: AJR, “Bang!”
Top Latin Song: Bad Bunny & Jhay Cortez, “Dákiti”
Top Dance/Electronic Song: SAINt JHN, “Roses (Imanbek Remix)”
Top Christian Song: Elevation Worship ft. Brandon Lake, “Graves Into Gardens”
Top Gospel Song: Kanye West ft. Travis Scott, “Wash Us In The Blood”