Miley Cyrus cried, Drake broke a record, and Cher made everyone “Believe”: The 2017 Billboard Music Awards were filled with triumphant moments that celebrated both this year’s achievements in music and the moments that led us here. Ahead, check out nine highlights from the show, broadcast live from Las Vegas Sunday night. See the full list of winners here.
Nicki Minaj starts the party
A trio of male stars — David Guetta, Lil Wayne, and Jason Derulo — joined Minaj for the show’s opening number, but they couldn’t take the spotlight away from the magnetic MC, who brought the party to the arena with a medley including “No Frauds,” “Light My Body Up,” “Swalla,” and “Regret in Your Tears.”
Drake breaks a record…
Drake broke a record when he won 13 awards total, more than any other artist has won in a single year at the BBMAs. Although most of the awards were presented off-air, he was able to give three quick acceptance speeches during the televised ceremony, allowing him a chance to shout out fellow Canadian artists (“Canada strong!”), give Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj some love, and, most importantly, bring his father onstage — clad in a shiny purple suit, no less.
…and performs in a fountain surrounded by fire
It was a big night for the More Life rapper: Not only did he sweep the awards, but he also put on a fiery show in the middle of the iconic Bellagio Fountains, where he performed “Gyalchester” as water and fire danced around him.
Miley Cyrus cries at the end of “Malibu”
A few years ago, putting Miley Cyrus on an awards show’s list of performers was a way to guarantee viewers would be talking about said show, whether it was because she was wearing skin-colored latex and twerking on Robin Thicke or because she was dancing with a crew of drag queens. That’s all changed: This time around, Cyrus simply sang new song “Malibu” with zero theatrics, instead relying on her voice and backing band to deliver a calm performance that showed off her vocal talents — and that ended with Cyrus having her Justin Bieber moment of sorts when she began tearing up as the crowd applauded.
Lorde does karaoke to “Green Light”
Karaoke never looked so cool: Lorde performed Melodrama single “Green Light” in a faux private booth decked out in neon lights and extras who looked like dead-sober friends she dragged to the bar despite their protests. Although the New Zealand artist spent most of the song addressing the TV, she also took a couple breaks to joyfully dance around the stage as only Lorde can.
P. Diddy brings Biggie’s son onstage
To celebrate what would have been Biggie’s 45th birthday, P. Diddy delivered a sweet tribute to the late rapper by recalling when he first started Bad Boy Records in 1993 and subsequently teamed up with the Notorious B.I.G. “He changed the game,” Diddy said. “Biggie was the best rapper I ever had a chance to work with. Watching him and seeing him work is something that words can’t explain.” He proceeded to ask the audience to give his former collaborator a standing ovation before bringing out C.J. Wallace, Biggie’s son. “I know my father is looking down on all of us tonight,” he said. “My sister and I will continue to carry on his name with tremendous pride.”
Céline Dion revisits “My Heart Will Go On”
Twenty years ago, Dion introduced the world to “My Heart Will Go On” on the Titanic soundtrack, and the Canadian singer brought it back Sunday to celebrate the anniversary with a soaring, touching performance underneath a shining chandelier.
Chris Cornell gets a moment of silence
Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell died this past week at age 52, and the BBMAs gave a respectful tribute to the late musician by bringing Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds out to initiate a moment of silence. “He was a prolific songwriter, a legendary performer, a singer who had a voice for the ages, and a philanthropist,” Reynolds said. “Even though Chris is gone, his legacy endures.”
Cher proves why she’s an icon
Before Gwen Stefani presented Cher with the Icon Award, the music legend donned chains of sparkling diamonds for “Believe” and then changed into a flowing black wig and fishnet bodysuit for an exuberant rendition of “If I Could Turn Back Time” that felt straight from the ’80s. If that wasn’t enough to prove her status as a star, though, Cher also worked some light bragging into her acceptance speech: “I’m 71 yesterday. I can do a 5-minute plank, okay?” she joked. She then got serious to talk about how she got to where she is now. “I want to thank my mom because I was really young, my mom said, ‘You’re not going to be the smartest, you’re not going to be the prettiest, you’re not going to be the most talented, but you’re going to be special.'” Mothers do know best.