Last night the 2015 Billboard Music Awards took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and the show was action packed from start to finish! Co-hosted by Ludacris and Chrissy Tiegen, the show recognized top sellers across a variety of genres from 2014. After debuting her “Bad Blood” music video (in which she plays a bad ass femme fatale) Taylor Swift was the big winner of the event, taking home awards in several of the fourteen categories she was nominated in. Meghan Trainor, Sam Smith, One Direction (who made their first Zayn-less appearance), and many others took home awards, but we all know that the focus of the show was on the performances.
The Billboard Music Awards featured powerful performances from a variety of talented musicians across a plethora of genres. Rockers Van Halen provided the first live performance of the night, while country act Little Big Town teamed up with Faith Hill for a set later on. Rappers, pop princesses, R&B hit makers, rockers, and many others hopped onstage to show off their exceptional skills.
Which performances rose above the others as true standouts from the evening? Check out our list of the Top 10 2015 Billboard Music Awards performances to see which stars made our list!
Number 10: “Invincible” Kelly Clarkson.
After an introduction from her Piece By Piece tour mates Pentatonix, the original American Idol Kelly Clarkson (http://ppcorn.com//top-ten-kelly-clarkson-music-videos/) took the stage at the Billboard Music Awards for the debut performance of her Sia co-penned single “Invincible (http://ppcorn.com//kelly-clarkson-invincible-single-review/).” Per usual, the big voiced musician brought the house down with her emotional performance and traditionally simple staging. Clarkson’s vocals were strong throughout the performance, but she absolutely took it to church as she moved into the song’s bridge (SANG GIRL). The final moments were filled with octave defying vocal runs, all of which were executed to spine tingling perfection. The song has huge hit potential for the “Heartbeat Song” musician, and this was a wonderful debut on the Billboard Music Awards stage.
Number 9: “Pretty Girls” Britney Spears and Iggy Azaliea.
For her first televised performance in more than four years, “Pretty Girls (http://ppcorn.com//britney-spears-and-iggy-azalea-pretty-girls-single-review/)” Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea beamed us to Britney’s home stage at Planet Hollywood for the premier performance of their new single. The intergalactic sirens transformed the stage into “Pretty World,” a fantastical planet known for their excessive use of neon as well as their late night dance parties. The twosome magically appeared onstage in the midst of a lightshow (quite an impressive entrance) and immediately hopped into the dance heavy set. Dressed in a very sheer black bodysuit Britney Spears danced with her crew, giving her most energized performance in years. Admittedly Britney Spears’s vocals were pre-recorded, but the performance remains one of the most spirited of the Billboard Music Awards and is the most animated Spears has appeared onstage in recent memory. Spears and Azalea make for a great team, and the pretty girls have a lot to celebrate after their fun performance.
Number 8: “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” Meghan Trainor and John Legend.
Billboard Music Awards Co-Host Chrissy Tiegen got a little jealous when her hubby, the smooth voiced John Legend, hopped onstage to take us all back to our senior prom while performing a duet with “All About That Bass” starlet Meghan Trainor. The twosome slowed things down for a live rendition of their sweet ballad “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” from Trainor’s Title (http://ppcorn.com//meghan-trainor-title-track-track-album-review/). Dressed all in black (but still bedazzled in the appropriate amount of sequins) Meghan proved her artistic versatility with her song choice and styling. The performance proved that she isn’t a one trick pony who needs to rely on a multitude of color and a 60s-influenced swing to produce a hit. The performance established her as a legitimate talent in the industry, and her voice effortlessly blended with Legend’s as they approached the soulful track.
Number 7: “Stand By Me” Imagine Dragons.
Imagine Dragons performed an exceptional rendition of Ben E. King’s (http://ppcorn.com//stand-by-me-singer-ben-e-king-dies-at-76/) iconic “Stand By Me” in honor of the late musician. The “Radioactive” rockers kept things light and emotional, performing while seated on boxes in front of a series of lights. Their stripped back performance placed a heavy emphasis on the lyrics and instrumentation, and the rendition almost seemed to call King’s spirit down to the stage, especially as a photo of him was projected onto the screen behind the band. King’s daughter and granddaughters seemed to appreciate Imagine Dragons’ tribute, as they could be seen signing along in the audience.
Number 6: “Jealous” Nick Jonas.
Lights, camera, action (with an emphasis on the lights) on Nick Jonas as the youngest Jonas Brother hopped onstage to perform a rocking rendition of his chart topping “Jealous” http://ppcorn.com//nick-jonas-is-jealous/ during the Billboard Music Awards. Dressed in a (slightly unfortunate, but I kind of still love it) metallic jacket Nick Jonas performed in front of a cutting edge light show, opting to focus his attention on the music instead of a more physical stage show. His vocals were strong and Nick also showed off his skills on the guitar before tossing it aside to a waiting stagehand for one final strut down the stage. Huge props to Nick Jonas for trying something a little different from his previous awards show performances, which placed a heavier focus on staging.
Number 5: “Nobody Love” Tori Kelly.
After receiving the coveted “One to Watch” title, Tori Kelly proved her massive talent with an acoustic performance of her breakout single “Nobody Love http://ppcorn.com//tori-kelly-nobody-love-single-review/.” Armed with only a guitar and her voice, Kelly kept her staging exceptionally simple (but for real), opting instead to wow with her voice and entirely succeeding. Home girl can sing, and she absolutely sang the hell out of the track. My only complaint with the performance is that I found myself waiting for the production and energy to pick up into the full body of the track’s official release. “Nobody Love” is such an upbeat track, and while the acoustic performance proved her vocal prowess it could have benefitted from a small jolt of energy. Regardless, huge congratulations are in order for the talented chanteuse on her hugely successful performance! Now if I could simply stop singing the song long enough to get my congratulations out…
Number 4: “Conqueror” and “You’re So Beautiful” Jussie Smollett, Yazz, and Estelle.
After topping the Billboard 200 Album’s chart http://ppcorn.com//empire-is-number-one-on-billboard-albums-chart/ with the Empire soundtrack, Empire cast members Jussie Smollett and Yazz took the stage for a medley of hits from the show. Smollett kicked things off with a passionate performance of “Conqueror” alongside British songstress Estelle. The duo’s voices rose in power and emotion as they progressed through the fighter’s anthem. As the song came to a close Yazz made his big entrance with a crew of backup dancers for a dance friendly performance of “You’re So Beautiful.” The infectious track picked things up and even featured a shout out to Taylor Swift, encouraging her to dance along! It’s always a good idea to get Swift dancing during the awards show performances, and it looks like the Empire was pretty successful at getting the whole crowd moving!
Number 3: “See You Again” Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth, and Lindsey Stirling.
Currently topping the Billboard Hot 100 http://ppcorn.com//goodbye-uptown-funk-well-see-you-again/, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth teamed up with dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling for their stirring performance of “See You Again.” This was Khalifa’s second time onstage during the event (he featured on a performance with tour partners Fall Out Boy earlier in the show), and the rapper left it all on the stage during his tribute to the late Paul Walker. The Furious 7 cut showcases the exceptional talent of both Khalifa’s flow and lyricism and Puth’s emotional vocal delivery and piano playing. Puth’s vocals were in his highest register and were filled with a sense of hope and longing as he sang about meeting Walker again in the future. Stirling’s addition to the track added another level of depth and dimension to the tribute performance, and Khalifa could be seen dancing alongside her as the track came to a close. During the last few moments of the performance, two cars could be seen driving side by side along an open road, a fitting tribute to the late actor and a beautiful way to close a powerful performance.
Number 2: “Bloodstream” Ed Sheeran and Rudimental.
Ed Sheeran is evidence that sometimes simplicity is the key to a truly fantastic performance. The soulful UK crooner (and Taylor Swift bestie) took the stage on his own for his performance at the Billboard Music Awards, and he absolutely commanded the audience’s attention. Performing in front of an abstracted image of himself, Sheeran sang, played guitar, and utilized a beat maker with his feet nonetheless (we’re all unworthy of his musicality). The performance rose in power as it progressed, reaching a bittersweet cacophony as the singer begs us to tell him when “it” kicks in before slowly petering out. It is amazing that Sheeran was capable of creating such a frenzied performance on his own, and he truly delivered a perfect performance.
Number 1: “The Night Is Still Young” and “Hey Mama” Nicki Minaj and David Guetta.
“Hey Mama?” More like “Slay Mama!” Nicki Minaj took things to the next level while performing a mash-up of her current single “The Night Is Still Young http://ppcorn.com//nicki-minaj-posts-the-night-is-still-young-pic/” and the David Guetta-assisted “Hey Mama” onstage at the Billboard Music Awards. Nicki pulled out all the stops for her performance, showing off her dance skills (who would have guessed that she can body roll with the best of them) alongside her crew of backup dancers while working her way through the high-energy set. As the performance moved into “Hey Mama,” things ratcheted up to even higher levels as additional dancers bum rushed the stage. Minaj utilized a backing track throughout the performance, but her verses were live and displayed her impressive live flow. The only thing missing was an appearance from up and coming pop princess Bebe Rexha, who sings the chorus on “Hey Mama,” but that didn’t stop Nicki Minaj from stealing the show with her performance!
Honorable Mention: “Take Me To Church” Hozier.
Hozier delivered some of the best vocal work of the evening during his performance of his breakout single “Take Me To Church http://ppcorn.com//hozier-take-church-music-video-review/.” Joined by a full band, the rocker kept things simple in terms of staging but sold the audience with his passionate performance. Even Meghan Trainor was singing along!
What did you think about the 2015 Billboard Music Awards performances? Do you agree with our list, or are there any other performances that you think deserve recognition? Let us know in the comments below!
FDRMX Eyes: Cheek Mountain Thief is an indie rock band from Iceland. Their music video “Cheek Mountain” uses a combination of live shots and animation to create a surreal visual experience. Check the video out here: