Billboard Music Awards: Best Moments
The highlights of this year's show included dance-heavy routines and timely tributes to music icons.
Still, it was Usher who was the artist guilty of the night's oddest performance. Delivering a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde meets Little Red Riding Hood-themed performance of "Scream," the R&B superstar danced with a woman in a red hooded cloak. After an embrace, she wrapped herself in the garment. Usher then removed it, and she had disappeared and a male dancer who looked like the singer's doppelganger was dancing in her place. Weird.
The show's high points were the tributes to two recently deceased icons (MCA and Houston) and one living legend (Stevie Wonder). John Legend belted a bold rendition of "The Greatest Love of All" and Houston's Sparkle co-star Jordin Sparks came as close as anyone could to really doing justice to "I Will Always Love You." She sang beautifully. Period.
Whoopi Goldberg, flanked by the two singers, presented Houston's sister-in-law Pat Houston and daughter Bobbi Kristina with the late icon's Millennium Award. "Thank you to everyone who supported us through it all, not just when it was good but when it was bad," Bobbi Kristina said. "Thank you for showing that much love because she deserved it. I'm just blessed to have been in such an incredible woman's life. There will never be another one, ever."
Cee-Lo and Goodie Mob, as they were curiously described by co-hosts Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell (from Modern Family), sang their anthem "Fight to Win." Meanwhile a Cirque du Soleil one-legged dancer twirled around on crutches better than most people are able to do on two feet. Once the song finished, Goodie Mob rocked "Fight for Your Right to Party" in memory of the Beastie Boys' MCA, who died of cancer earlier this month.
Finally, Alicia Keys presented Stevie Wonder with the Billboard Icon Award. "We're in a place in life that we have to commit ourselves to one thing, and that is to love," he said. "I believe that love ultimately will always win over hate and peace over war. We have approximately 7 billion people in the world, and I would like for all of you today to commit yourselves to using your heart and joining me in putting your best love forward. Not only that but if we bring our hearts together for unity we can change the world by being as one." Wonder sang "Superstitious," backed by a choir and a full band, ending the night on a decidedly high note.
Hillary Crosley is a contributor to The Root.