Billboard Music Awards: 8 Memorable Moments From the Show

8:28 PM 5/21/2017

by Farnoush Amiri and Kaeli Wells

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Billboard Music Awards aired live from Las Vegas on Sunday night.

With 16 performances and 10 televised awards presentations, the audience nearly didn't stop dancing and cheering.

Some of the most memorable moments from the night ranged from Celine Dion's powerful performance of "My Heart Will Go On," Vanessa Hudgens' impromptu rendition of Dion's "The Power of Love" and charming acceptance speech and record-breaking wins.

  • Nicki Minaj's 9-Minute Opening Performance

    Nicki Minaj opened the show with a nine-minute performance featuring special guests Lil Wayne, Jason Derulo and David Guetta. Manaj began her performance with dancers before making her grand entrance in a black leather and silver bedazzled costume. Lil Wayne took the stage first, rapping on "No Frauds." Guetta then performed with Minaj, performing "Light My Body Up." Derulo was the last special guest of the opening act performing on "Swalla."

  • Vanessa Hudgens Channels Celine Dion

    After praising Nicki Minaj's opening act and rapping as a "test" for co-host Ludacris during the Billboard Music Awards, Vanessa Hudgens aced another one of his "pop quizzes" by performing a Celine Dion song. The actress chose to perform "The Power of Love," the song originally recorded by Jennifer Rush in 1984 before several other artists went on to cover the tune, including Dion in 1994.

  • Drake Says Vanessa Hudgens "Looks Incredible Tonight" in Acceptance Speech

    The 2017 Billboard Music Awards was set to be a big night for nominee and winner Drake before the live show even began, with the rapper winning 11 awards in the pre-show ceremonies, but things really heated up upon accepting his 12th award of the evening, for top 200 album for Views, when the rapper took the moment to mention his fans and naysayers.

    "I had a close friend of mine that didn't support my album but supported other people's stuff and I asked him 'Why?' and his response was 'I don't want to look thirsty and you get enough love as it is,' and it made me think that it's crazy that we're all here on Earth for a limited amount of time and we got to show love while we're here," the rapper said.

    Drake then went onto mention that co-host Vanessa Hudgens "looks incredible tonight" (as an incredulous Nicki Minaj reacted from her seat in the audience) and that even though he and Hudgens' fellow BBMA co-host, Ludacris, haven't always gotten along, that he is a "big fan."

    The Grammy winner then moved onto his Young Money label mates, Lil Wayne and, yes, Minaj, saying, "I want to say Nicki Minaj, I am so happy we found our way back because I love you and I could never ever see it any other way." And he thanked Lil Wayne for bringing them all together.

  • Celine Dion Gives Powerful Performance of "My Heart Will Go On"

    Celine Dion took the stage to perform her hit song "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. The music icon performed the infamous ballad while scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet from the Oscar-winning film played in the background. She also wore a white gown with enormous sleeves as she sang in the middle of the T-Mobile Arena, earning a long standing ovation at the end of her powerful performance celebrating the 20th anniversary of the song, after which she became visibly emotional.

  • Drake Performs Inside the Bellagio Fountains

    Drake performed his new song "Gyalchester" in the middle of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. As the rapper performed, blasts of fire and water emerged around him, with fireworks going off in the background in unison with the rhythm of the beat. "Gyalchester" is just one of the many Billboard hits from Drake's latest project, which hit No.1 for three weeks on Billboard 200 chart.

  • Moment of Silence for Chris Cornell

    After performing his band's song "Believer" at Sunday's Billboard Music Awards, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds took the stage once again but this time to pay tribute to his friend and fellow musician, the late Chris Cornell, who died last week at age 52.

    "Although tonight is a time to celebrate the music and artists of the past year, it is also a time to recall a member of our community we lost this past week," Reynolds said. "Soundgarden and Audioslaves' Chris Cornell was a true innovator, a musical architect and a pioneer on the Seattle grunge movement."

    After his touching tribute, the rock star lead the audience in the T-Mobile arena in a moment of silence to honor the life and career of the pioneering rock star. Cornell's death was ruled a suicide by a medical examiner. The late musician is survived by his three children and a humble legacy of philanthropy through his foundation, which has helped impoverished, abused and homeless children around the world.

  • Cher Performs "Believe," "If I Could Turn Back Time"

    Cher delivered a heartfelt speech after performing two of her biggest hits when she accepted the Icon award at the Billboard Music Awards. The acclaimed singer received the prize, presented by Gwen Stefani, after performing "Believe" and "If I Could Turn Back Time." For the latter she wore an outfit reminiscent of the one from her video for the song. Although viewers may have expected the outspoken critic of Donald Trump to go after the president, she refrained from even mentioning him. Instead, she delivered a heartfelt speech, thanking her mom and Sonny Bono for seeing something "special" in her.

  • Diddy Pays Tribute to the Notorious B.I.G.

    Sean "Diddy" Combs made a surprise appearance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards this evening in Las Vegas, on what would have been The Notorious B.I.G.'s 45th birthday. The flagship artist of Diddy's Bad Boy Records, which he started in 1993 as a vehicle for Big and Craig Mack and which went on to a wildly successful run as one of hip-hop's most historically significant record labels, B.I.G. was killed 20 years ago this March, just weeks before the release of his sophomore album, Life After Death"It all started with the Notorious B.I.G.," Diddy said, referencing Bad Boy's creation and its 500 million albums sold over the past 20-plus years. "Big sold over 25 million records worldwide; his Ready to Die album, his Life After Death album, classics... Biggie was the best rapper I ever had the chance to work with.

    Watching him and seeing him work is something that words can't explain." Diddy then led the crowd in a standing ovation and ran a clip of himself presenting Big's mother, Ms. Voletta Wallace, with a special award at the BBMAs shortly after her son's death. He then introduced Big's son, CJ Wallace, himself an aspiring actor and artist, who delivered a short but poignant tribute to his dad, saying, "I know my father is looking down on all of us tonight." But then Diddy referenced the 20th anniversary of Bad Boy, which he celebrated with a tour last year alongside his former artists Faith Evans, 112, The L.O.X. and Ma$e, among others. A documentary about the label's history, Can't Stop, Won't Stop, will be released June 25 via Apple Music, and the mogul debuted the trailer for the film live on the BBMAs.

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