Mother’s Day is in a couple weeks, but rap star Drake gave his mom an early gift with a heartfelt speech when he won the night’s top honor at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards.
Drake picked up top artist — besting Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Travis Scott — in Las Vegas on Wednesday night.
He looked up to the ceiling as he held the trophy, then saying: “I just want to thank my mom for her relentless effort in my life.”
“I want to thank my mom for all the times you drove me to piano. All the times you drove me to basketball and hockey, that clearly didn’t work out. All the times you drove me to ‘Degrassi.’ No matter how long it took me to figure out what I wanted to do, you were always there to give me a ride, and now we’re on one hell of ride,” Drake said.
Drake, who walked into MGM Grand Garden Arena with 17 nominations, also won top male artist and Billboard 200 album for “Scorpion.”
“Shout-out to Arya Stark for putting in that work last week,” he said of the Game of Thrones star who shined in last week’s episode.
BTS was also having a major night. At the Billboard Awards and American Music Awards, the K-pop band had only previously won “social” awards based off their fanatic fan base, but on Wednesday BTS picked up top duo/group, besting Grammy-winning groups like Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and Dan + Shay.
“I still can’t believe we’re here on this stage with so many great artists,” RM said as fans screamed loudly. “We’re still the same boys from six years ago, we still have the same dreams … we still have the same thoughts. Let us keep dreaming.”
Imagine Dragons did pick up top rock artist, and band leader Dan Reynolds used his speech to highlight the dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. He earned rousing applause. Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard followed suit, telling the audience after winning top country song: “In the spirt of so much truth being spoken tonight by so many talented artists, I think we should speak some truth.”
“As artists we all get to experience so many unbelievable things, but in our opinion, at the end of the day, it’s all for nothing if you’re not using your platform for better … to spread love, to help those in needs, to be a light to your community,” he said.
The show was a family affair: Ciara’s husband, NFL player Russell Wilson, and young son danced along while she worked the stage, and Nick and Joe Jonas gave kisses to Priyanka Chopra and Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame when they sang in the audience before hitting the stage.
Mariah Carey’s twins cheered her on as she sang a medley of her hits and accepted the Icon award. She was in diva form before taking the award from Jennifer Hudson, throwing her napkin on the floor after dabbing her face with it.
“Icon? I really don’t think of myself that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself and I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing,” she said. “Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career … I guess I always felt like an outsider, someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, and I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed at anything at all in this world. But, and this is the truth, I did believe because I had to. The truth is I dedicated my life to my music — my saving grace — and to my fans.”
Cardi B, the night’s top nominee with 21, locked lips with husband Offset on the red carpet and the couple sat closely inside the venue. She competed for top artist along with Drake, Scott, Malone and Ariana Grande.
“I remember when I first hit the Billboard (chart) at No. 85 with ‘Bodak Yellow’ — I celebrated that the same way I celebrated all my No. 1s on the Hot 100,” she said after winning the top rap song honor for “I Like It.”
Taylor Swift kicked off the show when she brought her new music video to life with a colorful, eye-popping performance of her song “ME!” She was backed by dancers wearing bright, pastel colors and her featured guest — Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco — descended from the ceiling holding an umbrella
A marching band kicked off Swift’s performance — like most of the world, maybe Swift was inspired by Beyonce’s new Coachella film? Dancers also spun in the air holding umbrellas.
Kelly Clarkson is hosting the show for a second time — and sang a medley of hits following Swift’s performance, from Cardi B’s “I Like It” to “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai, who won the first award of the evening, top R&B artist.