This year’s Billboard Music Awards were packed with top-tier performances across genres. Now that we know who took home the hardware, it’s time to see who put on the best show — read on for the night’s top performances.
10) DNCE, “Cake by the Ocean”
DNCE had the crowd on their feet with its infectious hit “Cake By The Ocean” — with piles of red balloons and confetti, the quartet kept the party atmosphere in full effect as they bounced through the T-Mobile Arena. They even snuck in a few instrumental features, as guitarist JinJoo Lee took a brief solo and bassist Cole Whittle flung around his guitar to wrap up the performance.
9) Fifth Harmony, “Work From Home”
Fifth Harmony turned up the heat with their performance of flirtatious hit “Work From Home” — in sequined leotards, the quintet showed off their twerking (as well as a few more salacious dance moves) in front of a post-apocalyptic set. They were eventually joined by Ty Dolla $ign, who looked fairly amused by the whole endeavor.
8) Justin Bieber, “Company”/”Sorry”
Bieber brought kaleidoscopic neon visuals to his dynamic performance of “Company” and “Sorry,” putting a fresh spin on his Hot 100 chart-topper — he even took home the Top Male Artist award shortly after his set.
7) Britney Spears, medley
Britney brought down the house with a run through most of her classics — stripping down almost instantly from a military-inspired red jacket to a bejeweled red bikini, Spears went from “Work Bitch” to “Toxic” with an assist from a slew of leather-clad dancers.
6) Pink, “Just Like Fire”
A full-on Alice Through the Looking Glass theme made Pink’s jaw-dropping performance of soundtrack single “Just Like Fire” all the more impressive — from trapeze to the shoulders of her backup dancers to the hands of an oversized flaming clock (really), Pink certainly upped the ante for the performances that followed.
5) Ariana Grande, “Dangerous Woman”/”Into You”
Ariana Grande kicked things off with a Vocoder-only performance of title track “Dangerous Woman,” and quickly transitioned into the dancefloor anthem “Into You” — complete with a glut of backup dancers and pink (of course) smoke. Though the latter song has only been out a few weeks, members of the audience had no trouble singing along.
4) Rihanna, “Love on the Brain”
Rihanna brought out Anti deep cut “Love on the Brain” — reviving the same green fur scheme she used during the debut performance of “Bitch Better Have My Money” and the aesthetic of her “FourFiveSeconds” Grammys performance — and gave a top-notch vocal performance, flexing both her belt and falsetto to great effect (and leaving a few of the song’s more explicit moments, making the show’s censors a bit trigger happy).
3) Kesha, “It Ain’t Me Babe”
Kesha and Ben Folds quieted the entire T-Mobile Arena with their evocative rendition of the 1964 Bob Dylan classic “It Ain’t Me Babe” — stripped down with stately strings, the performance showed off Kesha’s powerful voice. She kept things Dylan-esque, low and steady, waiting until the end to stretch her voice (and show her range), earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
2) Celine Dion ft. Lindsey Stirling, “The Show Must Go On”
To celebrate her Icon Award, Celine Dion gave an emphatic revival of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” — complete with a full string orchestra and guest appearance by Lindsey Stirling. The performance was extra emotional, given that it was her first one on TV since the passing of her husband René Angélil.
1) Madonna & Stevie Wonder, “Nothing Compares 2 U”/”Purple Rain”
A solemn Questlove, wearing Prince’s love symbol on his lapel, introduced the evening’s tribute with a moment of silence. After Madonna slowly faced the arena from a purple throne, she began to sing “Nothing Compares 2 U” (famously covered by Sinead O’Connor). What the crowd wasn’t prepared for was when Stevie Wonder strolled onstage to help the pop icon lead “Purple Rain. Rihanna, dabbing in time, and The Weeknd were singing along as the whole arena waved their light-up wristbands, which were, of course, purple.