05.20.13 4:00 AM ET
Billboard Music Awards 2013 Best Moments: Taylor Swift & More (VIDEO)
The Band Perry Hits the Drumline
The Band Perry hit it big with the stirring ballad “If I Die Young” but proved Sunday night they could do more than just stand on stage and sing prettily. For the country group’s performance of “Better Dig Two,” siblings Kimberly, Reid, and Neil traded in banjos for drumsticks for a surprisingly lively marching band–infused performance. The Perry clan is doing just fine in Nashville, but if things ever go south they definitely have a future marching at the Rose Bowl. Or as “before” hair models in flat-iron commercials. Look at those manes.
Tracy Morgan and Psy Have a Dance Off
When it was announced that Psy would be at Sunday’s show, it wasn’t a matter of if Tracy Morgan was going to tease the Korean meme turned music star but when. Dressed in his own pompadour and mustard-colored tuxedo, Morgan mocked Psy’s “Gentleman” dance moves, ribbing the unlikely music titan, saying, “You show that even guys with a little bit of meat on their bones can be sex symbols.” Debatable … and yes, the bit fell a little flat. But at least know we know what Tracy Morgan would look with a full head of hair—and we know we never want to see it again.
Chris Brown Cuts a Rug
Like all things pertaining to Chris Brown, the highlight of his performance Sunday night happened when he shut his mouth. (Sample Twitter review of his “Fine China” performance: “Chris Brown coulda lip-synced instead of torturing our ears like this.) But to give credit where credit is due, Brown’s impressive dance breaks—is this guy jointless?—that bookended the performance prove just how much star power he has ... icky as it feels to pay the polarizing R&B singer a compliment. Fitting that his shining moment was as an unrecognizable shadow behind a screen.
Taylor Swift Charms the Crowd
With so many female artists writhing across the Billboard stage in barely there dresses and their male counterparts strutting back and forth with exaggerated (and obnoxious) braggadocio, the infectiously adorable and fun staging to the beginning of Taylor Swift’s performance of “22” was almost jarring. But T-Swift—who went on to pick up the big Billboard 200 Album award—is clearly onto something. Once she navigated the backstage halls, she sang the opening verse from the big stage, with the entire audience already out of their seats, unabashedly singing and dancing along to the refreshingly chaste—and catchy—earworm. Watch and try not to smile.
Pitbull’s A-ha Moment
The booming announcer man teased that Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s laughingly lip-synced performance of “Feel This Moment” would boast a special guest. Your mind may have searched for the logical possibilities: perhaps J.Lo, Adam Levine, Flo.Rida … hell, anyone who makes music in 2013. Silly goose. That special guest was, of course, Morten Harket of ’80s one-hit wonder A-ha, who sang a sample of “Take on Me” to close out the Pitbull set. Utterly weird, random, and amazing, yes, but the best part of the cameo was the slack-jawed cluelessness on the faces of everyone in the audience at Harket’s “big” reveal. You could almost hear the collective “Who is that?” racing through the minds of those in the crowd.
Miguel Goes Against the Grain ... and Sings
No, your ears don’t need to be checked. That strange sound you heard during Miguel’s performance of “Adorn” was a singer actually, you know, singing. Aside from the country contingent and a typically energetic Bruno Mars opening the show, this year’s Billboard musical acts were all proud graduates of the Hollywood School of Miming, with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Christina Aguilera lip-syncing their big numbers. Miguel’s live crooning paid off, too, as his lively, sexy, and soulful vocals on “Adorn” were 10 times as entertaining as any kitschy, over-choreographed numbers the mouthing musicians put on earlier in the show. The performance would have been flawless had he not nearly decapitated a poor mosh pit dweller with a jaunty dance move at the song’s climax.
Hi, It’s Nicki Minaj’s Butt
On Wednesday night, Nicki Minaj judged the final two American Idol contestants, acting as an expert on who has the vocal prowess needed to be the country’s next great musical artist. On Sunday night, she gave Lil Wayne a lap dance while a camera filmed, like, up her butt. Talk about range.
Prince Earns His Royalty
Winning some meaningless, made-up Millennium Award about how powerful he is on the Facebook or the Twitter or something, Justin Bieber used his acceptance speech to hoot and holler about how he’s an artist and needs to be taken seriously or some laughably narcissistic nonsense like that. How ridiculous it all seemed minutes later when Prince, rocking a groovy Hendricks-esque afro, took the stage to close out the show, outshining in one guitar lick the two juvenile performances Bieber gave earlier in the night, let alone the litany of noisy, lip-synced, smoke-and-mirror efforts put forth by all the other acts that preceded. After three hours, finally, the Billboard Music Awards put some real music on the stage.