Justin Bieber sang his hits “Company” and “Sorry” at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards with the help of a backing track as bright laser lights beamed throughout the performance. He walked from side to side, performing a few dance moves but didn’t match the energy of his backup dancers.
Bieber was named top male artist at the show airing live on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, beating Drake, the Weeknd, Ed Sheeran and Fetty Wap.
“I’m not really a talker, but I’ll say thank you to my family. I want to thank God. I want to thank everyone that believed in me and believes in me,” Bieber said.
Britney Spears — clearly lip syncing — kicked off the show with a performance that featured several of her hits and some of her signature dance moves.
Spears performed songs like “I’m a Slave 4 U” and “Toxic” in a shimmery red number, removing her jacket to reveal her toned body. She walked from stage to stage, grinding on top of a large guitar during “I Love Rock N Roll.”
Others made a stronger showing, including Demi Lovato, whose performance of “Cool for the Summer” with one of the night’s best. She also made a statement by wearing a shirt featuring an inclusive bathroom symbol, taking a stance against North Carolina’s recent law addressing LGBT rights and bathroom use by transgender people. Lovato, who is on tour with Nick Jonas, recently canceled shows in North Carolina in protest of the state’s law.
Pink also impressed with her performance — featuring her signature high-flying moves — while she sang her new song, “Just Like Fire.” Girl group Fifth Harmony gave a seductive performance of their hit, “Work from Home,” while Meghan Trainor worked the crowd when she sang “No.”
The show promises to feature emotional performances as well.
Madonna will pay tribute to Prince, who died last month; Kesha will now sing live Sunday after her performance was initially canceled by her former mentor; and Celine Dion — who recently lost her husband and brother — will perform Queen’s “The Show Must Go On.”
Madonna was met with criticism online after Billboard and dick clark productions announced she would pay homage to Prince, who died on April 21 at age 57. The icons collaborated on “Love Song” in 1989. Kesha was also in the heat of drama after Dr. Luke rescinded his decision to let her perform at the show. The hitmaking producer and his record label reversed the decision after Kesha said she would not use the stage to discuss their ongoing lawsuit. Kesha will sing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.”
Other performers include Rihanna, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, Ariana Grande, the Go-Go’s and Troye Sivan.
Ciara and Ludacris are hosting the show, and the rapper opened the show by poking fun at the recent Academy Awards, which featured all-white acting nominees.
“Unlike the Oscars we actually have black nominees,” Ludacris said to laughs.
The first award of the night — for top hot 100 artist — went to The Weeknd, the night’s top nominee.
“I wanna dedicate this award to the late, great Prince,” he said after accepting the award. “I love him so much. I didn’t know him, but he was so close to me. He will always be an inspiration.”
The Weeknd is nominated for the night’s big prize — top artist — and his competition includes Adele, Taylor Swift, Bieber and Drake. Swift and Adele — who is premiering her new music video for “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” at the awards show — won’t attend.
Adele, Swift, Bieber and the Weeknd are also nominated for top Billboard 200 album, along with Ed Sheeran’s “x.” Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” won top hot 100 song.
“Whoa,” Khalifa exclaimed as his mother cheered him on from the audience.
Thomas Rhett won top country song for “Die A Happy Man.”
“This is incredible. I got to thank God. I got to thank my wife,” he said.