It's been a huge year in music, and last night's 2016 Billboard Music Awards showcased the many achievements and talents of the top performers we love. Here are some of the highlights from the star-studded ceremony.
1. The Britney Spears Extravaganza
If you weren't already desperate to see Britney's "Piece of Me" Vegas show, her Billboard Music Awards opener was a totally OTT and amazing taster. Smoke, dancers dressed like dealers at the Goth Casino, and Brit's outfit—a red top hat and knee-high red leather boots that complemented body jewelry that looked like the genie's fanciest lamp—gave us every good feeling we could ever have hoped for.
Britney's Billboard medley drew from her abundant catalog of bangers, including snippets from "Work Bitch," "Womanizer," "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "Breathe on Me," "I'm a Slave 4 U," "Touch of My Hand," and "Toxic." We clapped, we squealed, we were irrationally happy. It was so fire that we are all burnt to a crisp.
2. Justin Bieber's the Best of Microsoft Screensavers Medley
The Bieb did what he does best, huskily singing "Company" and "Sorry" with the support of white-clad dancers, rhythmical smoke spurts, and a geometric light show that reminded us of nothing so much as Microsoft Windows screensavers.
3. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Are in Love
We'd already heard their new duet, "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," and seen Gwen Stefani try to stifle giggles at the thought of new beau Blake Shelton, but we got a glance at what we assume is a regular Sunday night for the couple: Blake playing guitar and hanging out stage left while Gwen sashays over in a full-length nude spangled gown, looking like the very shiniest Targaryen. It was all we could do not to rush in for a group hug.
4. Madonna and Stevie Wonder Pay Tribute to Prince
Madonna was a controversial choice to honor the Purple One at this year's ceremony. She paid tribute to the legend we lost earlier this year, wearing a metallic lavender suit. Beginning with an emotional version of "Nothing Compares 2 U," she was then joined by Stevie Wonder for "Purple Rain."
5. Céline Dion's Emotional Rendition of "The Show Must Go On"
The Canadian diva released a cover of Queen's "The Show Must Go On" as her first single after the death of her husband, René Angélil, in January. Céline, who received the Billboard Icon Award this year, shone in a one-shoulder sequined gown and even winked at the camera during the grand number. The singer was surprised during the ceremony by her son, René-Charles, who gave her the award. Tears filled her—and everyone's—eyes as Céline allowed the emotion to wash over her, before dedicating the award to her late husband.
6. Pink Goes Off
Pink is an typically a very physical performer, and her "Just Like Fire" segment did not disappoint. Wearing PVC fingerless, full-length gloves, and a black tulle bad-fairy outfit, Pink kicked off her spot by swinging high over the audience in a harness that frankly made us feel dizzy just looking at it.
7. Adele Is So Badass She Doesn't Even Have to Be There
Billboard's 2016 Top Artist Adele is such a star that even a screening of her new music video was a highlight of the event. After accepting her award for Top Billboard 200 Album via video message, we saw the new visual for "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," a minimal, hypnotic affair featuring the English singer in a gauzy Dolce & Gabbana floral dress, farewelling love lost, as she is wont to do.
8. Rihanna. Just Rihanna.
Ahead of winning the Billboard Achievement Award, RiRi treated us to the torchiest song from Anti, "Love on the Brain", clad in a tailored blue suit and an aqua off-the-shoulder fur. The rendition was at turns kittenish and rawly powerful—a gift to the Navy.
9. Some Men Actually Listen to a Woman, Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande's Dangerous Woman is set to be one of the biggest pop records of 2016, and she showed us why with new song "Into You." As well as the aural pleasures of her nimble, clear voice, we also got to see the incredible sight of a dozen dancing men listening intently to her, even though she is a woman.
10. OMG The Go-Go's!!!!
What? It was SO MUCH fun seeing '80s pop group The Go-Go's reunite to perform their hit "We Got the Beat." BELINDA. CARLISLE. EVERYONE.
11. Kesha Performs "It Ain't Me, Babe"
It was a welcome delight to see Kesha on stage. The singer had long intended to cover Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe," at the ceremony, but after Kemosabe Records withdrew its permission for her to perform, Kesha took to The Orpheum with Ben Folds to deliver a moving version of the song. But eventually the record label okayed the original plan, and fans were thrilled to see Kesha reprise the classic, again with Folds accompanying on piano.
12. Ciara's Many Outfit Changes
We knew Ciara would be surprising us with several outfits, and the gorgeous singer supplied us with a smashing variety of award-night-worthy looks, including our favorite, the Silver Sideboob Deluxe.
13. The Weeknd's Face
Despite being nominated for 19 awards and winning eight, Abel Tesfaye's face looked like this basically the whole time. You do you, The Weeknd.
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