Billboard Music Awards 2022: Best Achievements, Winners

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The “Billboard” charts are all about certainty, which provides definitive answers about music’s popularity. This year’s Billboard Music Awards was all about confusion, thanks to the random appearances and antics crammed into a show that felt disheveled at times. Sure, there were standout moments, as there always are (especially when Megan Thee Stallion is in the building). But just as often, the ceremony has left us with more questions – starting at the top, thanks to host Diddy. That said, it was a music awards show, albeit one where the awards themselves (based on this year’s “Billboard” charts) don’t generally mean much. Here are the highs, lows and whoas of the 2022 Billboard Music Awards.

WHOA: A fever dream of an opening.
Diddy set the tone for the night with his opening performance and monologue – and that tone was confusion. The host began with some choreography before ceding the stage to Bryson Tiller and Jack Harlow for truncated performances (of Diddy’s new “Gotta Move On” and Harlow’s hit “First Class”). Next, Teyana Taylor came out to sing the hook to “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” which was a highlight. But did we understand why she was there? Of course not! Then DJ Khaled introduced Diddy’s opening monologue – in which the host claimed he was “a tonal frequency now” and attempted a stale slapstick joke.

HIGH: Silk Sonic glides to “Love Train”.

Will we ever tire of watching these guys perform at awards shows? If they remain so polite, the answer is no.

LOW: Diddy turns off the teleprompter.

To keep up the chills of his opening, Diddy made a big deal out of telling the crowd he was leaving the teleprompter – only to deliver a moment that screamed “scripted” in which he had his assistant, Frank Rauw, introduce Alejandro. But hey, congratulations to Frank!

LOW: NBC and Peacock audio issues.
A music awards show is the last place you want audio interference. But the BBMAs were plagued by an awful mix that swallowed big voices like Florence Welch, complete with repeated glitches in the Peacock stream.

HIGH: The chemistry of Miranda Lambert and Elle King.

Want to know how “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” became such a hit? Just watch the performance of Miranda Lambert and Elle King, where their electricity radiated off the stage as the two strutted and weaved their way through their dance country hit.

WHOA: Latto brings great stage presence.

After some simpler stagings of Florence + the Machine and Lambert and King, Latto gave us the excess we were looking for, performing a dramatized rendition of “Big Energy” with a troupe of shimmering dancers. The backing track drowned out her live vocals, but at one of her first sets for an awards show, she knew there was more to the performance than what we hear.

LOW: What Megan Thee Stallion got during her performance.

Megan Thee Stallion’s performance at the BBMAs was the best of both worlds. She opened with a simple “Back-up plan” and spat her new single from the top of the stage (well, all the words she could say on prime-time TV). Then the dancers came out and Megan dropped it for “Sweetest Pie,” turning to show off her black lingerie.

HIGH: Mary J. Blige is an icon, and she knows it.

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul herself was this year’s Billboard icon, and she had the same confidence. After accepting her trophy from Janet Jackson, the icon of yesteryear (well, and always), Blige was sure to tell the producers not to play it off until she thought about her career and embraced her status. “Every artist that came into play wanted to do everything I did—and still does to this day,” she said.

LOW: The Bad Men Awards with Morgan Wallen and Travis Scott.

The BBMAs were the culmination of a long return to the public eye for Morgan Wallen and Travis Scott. Sure, Wallen has won awards since saying the N-word in a video in early 2021, and Scott is making a comeback after his Astroworld set left ten dead by a crush in November 2021, but the show was their first performance since those events — “uncancelling the canceled ones,” as host Diddy put it before the show. Wallen went the emotional-acoustic performance route, but didn’t have the voice to sustain those stripped-down renditions of “Don’t Think Jesus” and “Wasted on You.” Scott’s rendition of “Mafia” didn’t hit the spot either, since it was so high-profile (featuring fur-clad dancers) that it felt almost irreverent as a return.

WHOA: Machine Gun Kelly had some breaking news.
When it comes to awards shows, the BBMAs generally don’t do any news, aside from a few hilarious performances. Machine Gun Kelly changed that with his performance of “Twin Flame,” which he dedicated to his “wife,” news for the world who thought he was just engaged to Megan Fox. (Kelly also later dedicated the song to her “unborn child,” which could be a hint that Fox is pregnant, or a possible miscarriage, fans have theorized about the song.) And on the blood moon, no less?

HIGH: Changemaker Award winner Mari Copeny has nothing to be ashamed of.

The Changemaker Award is a respectable gesture, if somewhat confusing as to why we recognize activists at a music awards ceremony. Still, Mari Copeny, aka “Little Miss Flint,” made the most of her award with a sweet, entertaining, and stirring speech that not only touched on her activism surrounding the Flint, Michigan water crisis, but also the impending fall of the Supreme Court roe v. Wade. At one point in the speech she faltered, pausing and exclaiming, “That was so embarrassing!” Far from it, we say.

WHOA: Doja Cat remains relatable.

Downing her drink and squeezing her vape before accepting her two awards.

LOW: A tribute to thrillerkeep hitting.
Michael Jackson’s thriller is an album famously packed with hits, all of which would have been perfect for the BBMAs’ somewhat casual tribute to the album’s 40th anniversary. Instead, performer Maxwell chose the closing track, “The Lady in My Life,” which lacked the energy we needed to get through the third hour of an awards show.

WHOA: Burna Boy goes out with a bang (a drum).
Watching Burna Boy’s final performance in isolation from the other BBMAs, you wouldn’t believe it came after three long hours of an awards ceremony. The Afrobeats star worked the crowd with a smile on her face, and the crowd responded, standing up and dancing. And to top it off, a brass band? This is called the extra “kilometer”. Billboard Music Awards 2022: Best Achievements, Winners

Lindsay Lowe

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