1. Emotional Tribute to Santa Fe High School Shooting Victims
Kelly Clarkson somberly opened this year's show with an emotional call to action in response to the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday. The 36-year-old singer fought back tears from the first moment of her powerful speech, where she rejected the idea of having a moment of silence in favor of calling for a "moment of action [and] a moment of change." The tragic shooting, which is believed to have been committed by a 17-year-old student who attended the high school, claimed the lives of 10 people, eight children and two adult teachers, and left 13 others wounded. "Mommies and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theaters, to clubs. You should be able to live your life without that kind of fear," Clarkson said "We need to do better. Because we're failing our children, we're failing our communities and we're failing their families. I have four children; I cannot imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door."
Our hearts go out to all the victims in the Santa Fe community and their families. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/7ejLAd8nKk— Billboard Music Awards (@BBMAs) May 21, 2018
2. Ariana Grande Kicks Things Off With a Splash
a rain-soaked, umbrella filled performance of her new single "No Tears Left to Cry," while rocking a black babydoll dress and thigh-high leather boots. The appearance marked Grande's first televised performance since her split from longtime boyfriend Mac Miller earlier this month, and it's clear the singer hasn't let it affect her stage presence. Grande didn't miss a beat during the stylish number, which was a beautiful live recreation of the song's psychedelic music video.
3. Kelly Clarkson Proves Why She's the Best Choice to Host
immediately kicked into an over-the-top medley of some of the nominated artist's biggest hits, including Maren Morris' "My Church," Sam Smith's "Too Good at Goodbyes," and Kendrick Lamar's "Humble." Clarkson continued with her cover of Imagine Dragons "Thunder" and Khalid's "Young Dumb & Broke" -- which Khalid himself couldn’t help but dance to in the audience -- and then performed Cardi B's verse from Bruno Mars' "Finesse" as well as Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," Shawn Mendes' "Nothing Holding Me Back" and Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do." As the explosive, acrobat-filed display of extravagance came to a close, Clarkson jokingly reiterated that she planned on "keeping it simple." Later in the evening, Clarkson stepped back from hosting for a live performance of her own music.
4. The Chainsmokers Honor Avicii
Before presenting the award for Top Hot 100 Song, The Chainsmokers' Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall joined Halsey to pay tribute to the late EDM artist Avicii.
5. Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera Belt Out Wild Duet
Lovato and Aguilera stole the spotlight with their insane diva-off when the pair took the stage to perform their girl-power duet "Fall in Line." Rocking matching black leather trench coats, the amazing number seemed to be set in a dystopian police state, with back-up dancers in fascist-like black uniforms and militaristic helmets. It gave the whole thing an emotional Handmaid's Tale/1984 vibe that really added some emotional weight to the defiant, feminist messages and themes of the powerful song.
6. BTS Has the Absolute Best Night
the seven K-pop megastars took the stage to perform their song "Fake Love." Kelly Clarkson came prepared while introducing the band, bringing out some fuzzy pink earmuffs to defend her ears against the deafening roar of the fans.
7. An Emotional Musical Call For Gun Control
an impassioned call for gun control via a performance by Shawn Mendes and Khalid of their emotional ballad "Youth."
The two stars were joined by the choir of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed and 17 others injured in a mass shooting that left the nation devastated.
📹 | Shawn, Khalid & the choir students from Stoneman Douglas High❤️ #BBMAsMay 20th,2018pic.twitter.com/Y9e9CAt6J9 — Shawn Mendes Updates (@ShawnMTrack) May 21, 2018
8. Janet Jackson Gets Real
was honored with the BBMAs' Icon Award -- presented by surprise guest Bruno Mars -- making Jackson only the seventh artist -- and first black woman -- to receive the award. To celebrate the honor, Jackson performed a medley of some of her biggest hits -- including "Nasty" and "Throb" -- in her first live, televised performance in many years. While her musical presence drew a standing ovation, Jackson really blew people away with her powerful acceptance speech in which she said Americans are living "in a glorious moment in history." "It's a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused," Jackson said. "I stand with those women, and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us. This is also a moment when your public discourse is loud and harsh."
9. Salt-N-Pepa Close Out the Show With Classics
who performed a selection of their greatest hits, including "Shoop," "Let's Talk About Sex" and "Push It." However, things became next-level epic when En Vouge came out to perform with Salt-N-Pepa for their 1994 super-hit "Whatta Man," which brought the entire audience to their feet to sing along. Check out the video below for a look at the most memorable moments from last year's Billboard Music Awards.