Taylor Swift’s night at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas was a success. She led all artists at the Sunday night ceremony with eight wins, including top artist and top Billboard 200 album, for “Red.”
During her top artist acceptance speech, Swift thanked her fans for making her music about her crazy emotions the soundtrack to their own crazy emotions. She added that her relationship with her fans was the longest and best relationship she’s ever had.
Swift found out she won the top Billboard 200 album category when fans in the mosh pit held up smartphones that spelled out the album title in big letters. She said, “I’m really happy about this” and went on to thank her fans for the “magical” award.
Swift also delivered one of the more memorable performances of the night, singing her hit “22? in an elaborate production that began backstage and featured several dancers, a bicycle ride and plenty of red balloons.
Rihanna and Gotye each received four awards. Several artists, including Justin Bieber, picked up three. Bieber made a bid for musical relevance while accepting the first-ever Milestone Award for musical ingenuity and innovation. During his acceptance speech, Justin took the opportunity to address all the tabloid headlines saying, “I’m 19 years old. I think I’m doing a pretty good job, and basically, from my heart, it should be about the music and the craft that I’m making it.”
Bieber added, “This is not a gimmick. I’m an artist, and I should be taken seriously, and all this bull should not be spoken of.”
Bieber also accepted the top male artist award from Miley Cyrus. Her new song, “We Can’t Stop,” comes out June 3.
Prince closed out the night performing a rocked out version of his classic “Let’s Go Crazy” backed by his all female band, 3rdEyeGirl. The Purple One was dressed in a fringe jacket and wore his hair in an afro.
It was the first full-on rock performance of the show, and he went into the new song, “FIXURLIFEUP,” after an extended guitar and bass solo.
Here’s a rundown of the rest of the night’s performances and winners:
Bruno Mars kicked off the night with a finely choreographed performance of “Treasure.” Bruno’s set looked like it was lifted from classic “Soul Train” footage with its multiple disco balls and gold flashing lights. Bruno worked the stage with him and his band all wearing matching ’70s-inspired, red suits.
Selena Gomez heated things up performing a Middle Eastern-inspired dance routine as she sang “Come and Get It.” Gomez returned later to introduce Swift’s performance of “22.” Swift kicked the song off singing in her dressing room before continuing the performance with a choreographed romp through the backstage area. An entire crew of dancers, showgirls and masked men accompanied Swift as she entered the arena on the back of a bicycle during the second verse. She then took the stage to finish the song out with a dance remix breakdown of the song as red balloons rained down on the crowd.
Country star Jennifer Nettles was on hand to introduce The Band Perry’s performance of their No. 1 country hit, “Better Dig Two,” which featured a dramatic laser light show. The sibling trio broke it down towards the end with all three members playing individual drums in synch before returning to the chorus.
Carly Rae Jepsen introduced new Swedish pop duo Icona Pop to sing their debut U.S. hit, “I Love It.” Psy and host Tracy Morgan had a dance off before Chris Brown hit the stage for a performance of “Fine China.”
Brown’s Chinese-inspired set and costuming were accented by a martial arts-style dance breakdown. Brown even tapped Michael Jackson’s former guitar player, Orianthi, to play as he closed the performance with moves reminiscent of Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean” routine.
“Nashville’s” Hayden Panettiere introduced Macklemore & Ryan Lewis singing “Thrift Shop” live from the Tryst nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas. Country duo Florida Georgia Line introduced fellow country newcomer Kacey Musgraves’ acoustic performance of her debut hit, “Merry Go ‘Round.”
Bieber emerged from an airplane cockpit to sing and dance his way through “Take You,” the song his fans chose via Twitter for him to perform. Bieber returned to perform “That Power” with Will.i.am from Will’s new album #Willpower.
Ke$ha introduced Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s performance of “Feel This Moment,” which included a sample of the ’80s hit “Take on Me” by Norwegian band A-ha. A-ha actually showed up to sing a chorus of the original song to close it out. Pitbull returned later for his latest collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, “Live It Up.”
Miguel crooned his breakthrough hit “Adorn” behind a screen projecting evocative images to go along with the sexy song. Once the screen went up, Miguel danced around the smoke-filled stage and even jumped over the fans in the mosh pit to the catwalk, accidentally landing on top of one girl and kicking another in the head.
Ed Sheeran turned in an intimate, solo performance of “Lego House” from the arena’s b-stage. David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon transformed the MGM Grand into a giant rave with their high-energy performance of “Play Hard,” and Nicki Minaj gave Lil Wayne a full-on lap dance during their performance of “High School.”
Vegas headliner Shania Twain noted how odd it was that she was presenting the evening’s first trophy, top rap artist. Nicki Minaj took that award and admitted she didn’t expect to win it in her acceptance speech.
Will.i.am confessed his favorite Madonna song is “Like a Virgin” before introducing Madonna herself to accept the top touring artist award for her blockbuster MDNA tour. An extended highlights reel of the show, including a shot of Madonna’s bare backside, aired before she took the stage. She joked that it took longer to negotiate whether she could show her bottom in that trailer than it took to rehearse for the actual tour. Madonna took off what she called her “pretentious sunglasses” to thank a few key people in her touring organization, her four children and her fans.
Avril Lavigne and Alyssa Milano presented the digital song award to Jepsen for “Call Me Maybe,” which has seven million downloads.
Kid Rock got a jab in at people lip-synching to pre-recorded music on the show before presenting the top rap song award to “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Macklemore thanked Goodwill and Value Village for the win.
Kelly Rowland and Austin Mahone handed the top EDM artist award to David Guetta. Fun. took the top rock artist award, and Psy’s “Gangnam Style” won honors for top streaming video. Rihanna was named top radio artist, and One Direction won new artist honors