It was family night at Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, as hip-hop superstar Drake was named Artist of the Decade and accepted the honor alongside his adorable 3-year-old son, Adonis Graham. Adonis seemed almost as awards-show-ceremony-shy as his father has been in the past, clinging tightly to Drake’s side as he clutched his dad’s BBMAs trophy and eventually breaking into toddler tears.
But another superstar offspring, P!nk’s daughter Willow Sage Hart, was a natural onstage — and she was the breakout star of both the three-hour ceremony and Twitter’s trending topics.
P!nk was another special BBMAs honoree this year, receiving the Icon Award, which has previously gone to Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Garth Brooks. At many past awards show, the “Glitter in the Air” diva has dazzled with her aerial act, and this time, Willow joined her for “Cover Me in Sunshine,” a song that features the 9-year-old’s vocals.
P!nk showed Willow the ropes, literally, and the mother-daughter duo glittered in the air for the delighted BBMAs audience. “Willow, you nailed it!” Pink later gushed during her Icon Award acceptance speech, which followed a medley performance of other hits like “All I Know So Far,” “Get the Party Started,” “So What,” “Blow Me (One Last Kiss), “Who Knew,” “Just Like a Pill,” and “Just Give Me a Reason.”
But perhaps the most amusing moment of P!nk’s speech was when she told the Icon Award’s presenter, Jon Bon Jovi: “I think you know this, but I didn’t come out of my room for a week when you married Dorothea! I was 8. I ripped your poster off the wall. I replaced you with Sebastian Bach. I’m very glad you found lasting love, but you broke my heart. I take this [award] as an apology.”
P!nk and Drake may have been the artists receiving official BBMAs lifetime achievement honors Sunday, but some legacy acts — two from Jon Bon Jovi’s era — nearly stole the show with their own career-spanning performances. New wave icons Duran Duran, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut on the Billboard chart, delivered an electric medley of “Notorious,” their first top 10 hit “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and the vibey lead single “Invisible” from their forthcoming 15th album Future Past — with that album’s collaborator, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, surprisingly joining in. (Call this new supergroup “Bluran Bluran,” if you will.)
Alicia Keys also celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album Songs in A Minor with a medley performance, which was introduced by Michelle Obama. And legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis introduced a 50th-anniversary Sounds of Blackness performance, featuring Ann Nesby, direct from Prince’s famous Paisley Park studio. Said Jam, “Our hometown of Minneapolis, Minn. [is] a place that musically has represented change to the status quo, combining races, genders, uptown and downtown, to give the world harmonious groove. Thanks to the people of this city and other peaceful participants, Minneapolis is in the midst of changing the status quo yet again.” Added Lewis, “Music is a powerful catalyst, and this next song that we wrote 30 years ago expresses our perspective that faith is key to make positive change,” before Nesby and the vocal ensemble belted 1991’s “Optimistic.”
Sounds of Blackness’s performance aired just two days before the one-year anniversary of Minnesotan George Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin. At Sunday’s ceremony, Houston rapper Trae tha Truth, a friend of Floyd, also received the second annual Change Maker Award for his philanthropy and activism; the award was presented by Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles Lawson, who called Trae a “modern-day superhero” and “true humanitarian.” Last year, Trae organized a protest march attended by 60,000 people to support Floyd’s family, and as he accepted his Change Maker honor Sunday, he concluded his powerful speech by saying, “Daniel Cameron, we’re still going to need justice for Breonna Taylor.”
The 2021 Billboard Music Awards took place Sunday, May 23 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Following his shocking shutout at the 2021 Grammy Awards, the Weekend was the BBMAs’ most-awarded artist this year — winning in 10 out of 16 categories, which now places him in the top five BBMAs winners of all time. The shapeshifting pop provocateur performed his latest hit single “Save Your Tears” while leading an intricately choreographed parade of red and white convertible muscle cars though a vacant parking lot, and he later joked that he was relieved that he didn’t “have to wear that red suit anymore.” He also hinted at new music, saying, “The After Hours are done, and the dawn is coming.”
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