By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated July 30, 2020 at 04:40 PM EDT
Credit: Bieber: Kevin Winter/Nickelodeon, Rihanna: Kevin Mazur/KCA2010/WireImage

Image Credit: Bieber: Kevin Winter/Nickelodeon, Rihanna: Kevin Mazur/KCA2010/WireImageLast night’s Kids’ Choice Awards featured two big music performances from Justin Bieber and Rihanna. First up was Ri Ri — an interesting choice, given that her last album was very pointedly not kid stuff. How could she adapt Rated R for the Nickelodeon set?

Rihanna opened her medley with a few verses of militaristic jam “Hard,” sung while perched on a hot pink tank. “I’m so hard!” she cried. The camera cut to confused-looking children in the audience. This led into “Rude Boy,” whose aggressively flirtatious lyrics might have seemed more problematic here if they weren’t addressed to a pair of huge, friendly, asexual robots. After these two tunes, it wasn’t as if Rihanna could go back to Rated R‘s violent lead single “Russian Roulette.” Instead she and the automatons transitioned into 2007’s “Don’t Stop the Music,” always a good choice. Rihanna wasn’t a particularly impressive live vocalist in 2007, nor is she one now, but she is very good at dancing with robots. At a show like this, that’s six of one, half-dozen of the other. (Watch Rihanna’s performance after the jump; h/t Rap Radar for the clip.)

A while later, it was time for OMG JUSTIN BIEBER!!!! EW’s Lynette Rice, who was there on the scene, reports that “the mere mention of Justin Bieber’s name” drew scientifically remarkable levels of audience shriek volume, so I can only imagine how many eardrums were permanently damaged when the Canadian singer actually showed up on stage to sing his current hit “Baby.” In general I try not to judge Bieber too harshly, since he’s obviously doing something that a lot of fans appreciate. That said, the kid hit more than a few flat notes last night. He also attempted to rap a verse performed on record by Ludacris, which is an act that very few teenaged non-rappers would be wise to attempt in public. But, hey, the Kids’ Choice audience certainly seemed to love his act, so who am I to complain? I’ll stop snarking now and direct you to a YouTube clip of Bieber’s performance below so you can form your own opinion.

Did you watch the Kids’ Choice Awards last night? What did you think of Rihanna and Justin Bieber’s performances? Comment away!

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