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Taylor Swift and her 3.7 million-selling Red dominated the 2013 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, taking home eight trophies, as Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” swept four major song categories and Rihanna ruled R&B.
Swift received the night’s top honor, artist of the year, as well as top female artist and top Billboard 200 artist in ceremonies held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where awards were handed out in 45 categories, 10 of them on the ABC telecast. Swift also was named top country artist and top digital songs artist. Red was tops in the Billboard 200 and country albums categories; her “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was named top country song.
“Thank you for making my music the soundtrack to your crazy emotions,” she said in a thank-you to fans after being named artist of the year. “You are the longest and best relationship I’ve had.”
Prince, who performed a medley of his classic “Let’s Go Crazy,” Edgar Winter‘s instrumental “Frankenstein” and “Fix Ur Life Up,” was given the Icon Award for a career that includes 10 platinum albums and 30 top 40 singles.
Besides, Gotye, Rihanna was the only other artist to walk away with four awards, winning in the R&B artist, album and song categories, plus radio songs artist. Madonna, Nicki Minaj and One Direction won three each, while Justin Bieber, the late Jenni Rivera, Baauer and tobyMac secured two honors apiece.
“Somebody That I Used to Know,” the single from Gotye and Kimbra that has sold 7.3 million downloads, won in the categories of Hot 100 song, rock song, radio song and streaming song (audio). Billboard Music Awards are based on data tracked between March 12, 2012, and March 10, 2013.
The Milestone Award, voted on by fans and sponsored by Chevrolet, went to Bieber, who paused for about 20 seconds before speaking his mind about criticisms directed his way.
“I’m 19 years old, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job,” he said before thanking his family, fans and Jesus Christ. “It should be about the music, about the craft. This is not a gimmick. I should be taken seriously.”
The three-hour show, broadcast on ABC, featured 16 performances and included the TV premieres of Swift’s “22” and the new single from Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, “Live It Up.” Bruno Mars and his band, decked out in matching crimson suits and black shirts, opened the show with his new single, “Treasure.”
Among the current Hot 100 singles performed were will.i.am and Bieber doing “#Thatpower,” Pitbull and Christina Aguillera’s “Feel This Moment” with a guest solo from A-ha’s Morten Harket, Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” and, set in kung fu movie motif, Chris Brown’s “Fine China.”
Minaj gave Lil Wayne a lap dance during “High School,” and Miguel employed black-and-white and 3D imagery for his performance of “Adorn,” one of many elaborately staged performances. His ended in scary fashion, however, when he landed on a pair of fans during a leap from the stage.
“The crazy thing is, when you’re performing and you’re just kind of into it, you never know where it’s gonna go and where you’re gonna go with it,” Miguel told Billboard backstage. “And how that might turn out. So this is one of the less favorable moments.”
Kacey Musgraves and Ed Sheeran provided the evening’s quieter acoustic moments.
A two-minute, 20-second video of concert highlights from Madonna’s MDNA tour preceded the singer’s arrival to pick up her trophy for top touring artist.
“A showgirl needs her fans,” Madonna said at the conclusion of her speech, thanking the more than 2.2 million fans who made it out to her 88 shows. “Thank you for supporting me for three decades.”
David Guetta, who won in the new category of EDM artist and performed with Akon and Ne-Yo, explained his personal history with the magazine, noting that he read Billboard regularly while growing up in Paris.
“When they put me on the cover four years ago and said EDM would be big, I thought ‘These guys are crazy — this will never happen’,” he said. “Imagine how I feel today.”
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