Billboard Music Awards: What You Didn’t See on TV
THR spotted Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and others backstage and on the white carpet.
It must be said: even in this day and age, when a glut of awards show clutters network TV for a good quarter of the year, the Billboard Music Awards, just back from a five-year break, was missed.
Maybe it’s because of all that Grammy brouhaha this past February where show producers were confronted with the fact that music’s most popular artists struggle to get recognized. That certainly wasn’t the case on Sunday’s show where Justin Bieber walked away with six trophies, while Grammy favorites Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift nabbed three.
Add to that a risqué performance by Rihanna (joined by Britney Spears), a gravity-defying stunt by Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and a giant chicken, and this was certainly not your run-of-the-mill awards show. (Billboard - like The Hollywood Reporter - is owned by Prometheus Global Media.)
What didn’t you see on the broadcast? Read on for THR’s report from the white carpet, backstage and beyond…
• Drummer Travis Barker is among the first to hit the carpet with his three adorable kids in tow. While he’s sold many millions of albums as a member of Blink-182, the economics have changed dramatically as a solo artist. “The days of the big diamond records are gone,” he says. “It's more about people connecting to your music. YouTube - that's the new MTV, that's the radar, though I was happy to sell 50,000 in my first three weeks. I didn't expect that just being a drummer.”
• At around 3:45 p.m., Lady Antebellum huddle with Glee’s Matthew Morrison on the carpet. Asked about the pressure of following up such a massive album as Need You Now, vocalist Dave Haywood tells THR, “We definitely recognize the pressure in some respects but we try not to overthink it, like, is this going to cross over? We were about making great music and let it take us down whatever road.”
• Neil Diamond has done more than his share of touring around the globe, but even he recognizes the importance and impact of U2’s live show. “They're very real live, I think that's their secret,” he says. “People shell out hundreds of dollars because they want a real live experience and U2 provides that.”
• Fergie would swap places with Dev, the featured vocalist on Far East Movement’s hit “Like A G6” in a heartbeat. “When ‘G6’ came out, I wished we had done that song,” she says. “I just wanted to say that part.”
• Word trickles down the carpet that Bieber and Selena Gomez have arrived in the same car. Alas, Gomez would walk the carpet solo while Bieber headed inside.
• A girl-heavy start to the show forces the likes of Rihanna and Minaj to book down the carpet in order to get to the stage in time.
• Late carpet arrivals include Swift, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, who were among several power couples in attendance, including Bieber and Gomez and Jay-Z and Beyonce.
• Following her opening performance of "S&M" (with Spears), a wide-eyed Randy Jackson stops Rihanna on the backstage ramp to tell her, “You’re amazing.”
• Backstage was buzzing in anticipation of Cee Lo’s flying piano trick, with crew members gathered around monitors to watch or sneaking a peek from the side of the stage. Said Kelly Rowland following the spectacle: “I was, like, how is this happening? This is cool!”
• After finger-picking a banjo alongside country star Urban, surprisingly musical host Ken Jeong trashes it backstage. He later tells reporters that, having not played classical piano since he was a kid, he practiced for a month straight.
• Following another win for Rihanna, this time radio artist of the year (presented by Joe Jonas), she’s spotted running in six-plus inch heels backstage towards the artist trailers.
• Ryan Tedder and Far East Movement team up for “Rocketeer” followed by OneRepublic’s “Good Life,” during which Tedder loses the sound in his in-ears after the first line. “I sang the entire thing flying blind,” he tells THR after the performance, clearly concerned about how it sounded. “Unfortunately, there was no audio on stage so I was hearing the reflection off the back of the arena. I have decent enough pitch, so hopefully it wasn't terrible. I guess I'll find out when I watch it on YouTube.”
• It’s a near melee backstage after U2 accepts its honor for highest grossing tour. Joined by Interscope Geffen A&M chairman Jimmy Iovine, the four band members are surrounded by dozens of well-wishers, including Justin Bieber and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am.
• Back in the press room, Snoop Dogg is both surprised and delighted to hear a question asked by Robin Leach, who now lives in Vegas and reports on entertainment.
• Following Spears’s second stage appearance, joining Minaj for “Til the World Ends,” Spears’s longtime manager Larry Rudolph looks pleased with how the night has turned out for the pop star as colleagues stop to congratulate him.
• The night ends with Neil Diamond doing what he does best: getting the audience on its feet and singing along to his hits (on tap: “Sweet Caroline” into the crowd-pleaser “America”). “The feeling of performing live, he told THR, is “the best, scariest, most thrilling thrill ride there is.” As is the experience of seeing it.
• Attending the official Billboard Awards after-party at Tao at the Venetian were Joe Jonas, Tim Allen and Ken Jeung. At midnight, Rihanna, wearing all gold, arrived at the adjacent Palazzo for an event she was hosting at Lavo Nightclub. Bieber joined his manager Scooter Braun, girlfriend Gomez, Morrison, Rowland and members of The Killers for an Island Def Jam post-show dinner and celebration at Blue Ribbon Sushi at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.