Billboard Music Awards 2020: En Vogue Implores You to 'Free Your Mind,' Nearly 30 Years Later

Rhona Bennett, Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron of En Vogue rehearse at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on October 14, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA.
Rhona Bennett, Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron of En Vogue rehearse at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, broadcast on October 14, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA.
Photo: Kevin Winter/BBMA2020/Getty Images for dcp (Getty Images)

It’s time for yet another (virtual) awards show! This time, it’s the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs)!


The presenters, performers and some of the winners rented out The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. I say “rented out” because it was just the stars—no audience. Host Kelly Clarkson even had to make her own audience cheer noises. Awkward!

Now, on to the Black-ass BBMAs highlights!


Lizzo won for Top Song Sales Artist. “Would I be standing right here if it weren’t for the big Black women who refused to be suppressed?” Lizzo mused during her acceptance speech, rocking a statement dress with the word “VOTE” printed all over it.

Khalid took home the Top R&B Artist Award.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms presented Killer Mike with the inaugural Change Maker Award. “This is our award,” the rapper-activist said to his wife during his acceptance speech.


The performers’ list was a hodgepodge of different genres and groups of folks who you wouldn’t expect to perform together—but this is 2020 and it happened. For example, Kane Brown, Swae Lee and Khalid performed on one stage together—when does that happen other than in 2020-ville?! OK OK, they have a song together, but still!


Alicia Keys (who was rockin’ a bayang...not the bayang!) performed her new song, “Love Looks Better.” Brandy performed “No Tomorrow Part 2" with Ty Dolla $ign and did a rendition of the emotional jam, “Almost Doesn’t Count.” This was a big deal since it was Brandy’s first time ever performing at the BBMAs.

Doja Cat gave vintage vibes with her performance of “Juicy” and “Say So” while SAINt JHN bopped around the stage to “Roses.”


John Legend took the stage to perform “Never Break,” which, of course, was very emotional and layered given his and Chrissy Teigen’s recent loss.

En Vogue closed out the show with their iconic revolutionary hit, “Free Your Mind,” which really had me reminiscing about their legendary appearance on A Different World. Plus, as Clarkson said, this song remains very, very relevant right now.


Everything Else

Viral social media influencers were a part of the show, too, such as Tim and Fred Williams. If you don’t know their names, you know their reactions. The YouTuber twins went extra viral when they reacted to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” which absolutely is forever a bop.

First Time Hearing Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight Reaction / YouTube

What did the twins do during the show? They reacted to it, of course!

Later on in the show (particularly when Garth Brooks performed), they inserted sounds of the crowd, which was pretty damn jarring after watching winners walk out onto the stage to accept their award to complete silence for over an hour.


Finally, I just want y’all to revel in Lil Nas X’s bayang...


To view the complete winner list for the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, head to

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.