Wednesday night’s Billboard Music Awards 2020 was unlike any previous installment of the show: Instead of a huge arena in Las Vegas, it took place at the more intimate Dolby Theater, and there was no live audience at all. The artists gave it their all, but backstage, some remarked at how odd the whole situation was.
“I’m just having to really use my imagination and just think about the fans at home watching,” admitted Swae Lee, who took the stage with Khalid and Kane Brown to perform their hit “Be Like That.”
For his part, Khalid, who won multiple awards last night, admitted that it felt so “surreal” to be performing live, adding, “I’m so lucky I wasn’t there by myself…that was amazing. It’s good to be back. I loved being on that stage.” He also gushed over Brandy‘s performance: She performed on the BBMAs for the very first time last night.
Chart-topping A cappella group Pentatonix opened the show by performing “Higher Love” with host Kelly Clarkson and drummer Sheila E. Backstage, group member Scott Hoying said, “We were so excited to sing something and bring joy to people and spread a beautiful message at a time when we really, really need it.”
And speaking of spreading messages, iconic girl group En Vogue closed the show with a fierce performance of the anthem “Free Your Mind,” which is still relevant in these days of injustice and inequality.
By performing that song, the group said they hoped fans took away a message of “freeing our minds about that, and finally, hopefully, evolving into the next greatest version of who we’re capable of being.”
Addressing the problems of injustice and inequality is part of Stephen “tWitch” Boss‘ new job as co-executive producer of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which had been damaged by reports of toxic workplace culture.
Backstage, he talked about the changes the show has made, explaining, “It’s been incredible. It’s been an awesome feeling to get back to the happiness we’ve always instilled, but then also the way that has matured and evolved: We’re bringing on voices that need to be amplified.”
Meanwhile, country superstar Luke Combs, also a multiple winner last night, had some advice for other artists who’ve been sidelined as COVID-19 has shut down the touring industry. “It’s the perfect opportunity to write the best songs you’ve ever written, to be engaging with your fanbase more than you’ve ever done…that’s all that any of us can do.”
By Andrea Dresdale
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