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The 2020 Billboard Music Awards has been fittingly rife with messages of social justice, and along with acceptance speeches that encouraged change and performances of new, enlightened anthems, En Vogue came together on Wednesday night to bring their forward-thinking top 10 smash “Free Your Mind” to a new generation of listeners, as part of a rapturous throwback performance that closed out the telecast.
The veteran R&B trio rocked the stage, quite literally: “Free Your Mind” was given a snarling rock arrangement at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, with En Vogue clad in black, displaying the word “vote” in their attire, and making sure their harmonies were drifting above the guitar riffs. Thirty years after debuting, En Vogue hadn’t lost a step, delivering lock-step choreography and to close out the awards ceremony with a song that host Kelly Clarkson called “just as relevant now as it was then.”
“Free Your Mind,” which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1992, was one of several En Vogue hits during the early ‘90s: “Hold On,” “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” all reached the chart’s top 10. While En Vogue won a Billboard Music Award in 1990 for top R&B single thanks to “Hold On,” “Free Your Mind” has endured as a call for respect and acceptance: “Free your mind, and the rest will follow / Be color blind, don’t be so shallow,” goes its chorus.
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards is produced by dick clark productions, which is owned by MRC Entertainment, the parent company of Billboard.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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