The red carpet at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, held Sunday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, was tinged with sadness — while it was in progress, word came that Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees had passed away. But most artists agreed that the group’s music would live forever.
“It’s a very, very sad thing that Robin Gibb has passed,” Taio Cruz said. “I’m definitely going to be listening to their music for years to come. I think they will live on through their music and so that’s a good thing.”
Carrie Underwood won the prize for the best red carpet look, sporting a blue-grey confection of a dress that featured what seemed to be an entire fabric store’s worth of chiffon and tulle. Taylor Swift was similarly striking, sporting a bright-red column of a gown and bangs. In general, most stars dressed very well — the only one in a scandalous outfit was Miley Cyrus. She was wearing what looked like a white, oversized man’s suit jacket with nothing underneath. If she had moved suddenly, the world would have gotten an eyeful.
Miley, who said she’s been working on new music, told ABC News Radio that she loved coming to the show because it covers all musical genres.
“It’s amazing — there are so many unique artists,” she said. “It’s so nice when you get away from something that’s specifically country or hip-hop or pop or whatever it is, you know, and it’s just all the different artists and celebrating them.”
She added, “Especially now [that] a lot of the artists have passed away, being able to celebrate them and their life and the music, and carrying that on, is awesome.”
Justin Bieber was extremely low-key, chatting with everyone on the carpet about his new album “Believe”. Noting that he, his mentor Usher, his protegee Carly Rae Jepsen and his buddies The Wanted were all performing on the show, he told ABC News Radio, “I think it’s great, you know all of us together here and having a good time — I don’t think I [could] be in a better place.”
Jordin Sparks, who walked the red carpet with her boyfriend Jason Derulo, told ABC News Radio how nervous she was to sing “I Will Always Love You” as part of a tribute to the late Whitney Houston.
“I’m very nervous to sing, but I’m excited that I get to honor her in this way,” she said. “The family will be here, so to be able to see them, and show them that we all still love her and we’re honoring her and she deserves the award…I’m excited.”
Nelly Furtado, who’s been out of the pop spotlight for a while, performed her new song “Big Hoops” on the show, despite the fact that she was not wearing big hoops on the carpet — she was wearing mirrored geometrical earrings instead. Speaking about getting back into the swing of things in preparation for the release of her new album The Spirit Indestructible, she told ABC News Radio, “It actually feels amazing. I’m ready, you know, I took a break, and, you know, I made a Spanish album that was great fun. But I feel very refreshed and very ready for all this again.”
The telecast included performances from pop powerhouses like Katy Perry, Usher, The Wanted and Kelly Clarkson. R&B was represented by Chris Brown and country by Carrie Underwood, but there was only one rock act on the bill: Linkin Park. On the red carpet, the band’s Mike Shinoda told ABC News Radio, “Coming to the show I didn’t know we were the only rock band. I thought there would be at least one more that’s kinda simultaneously sad and exciting, but we’re excited to hold it down for the rock audience.”
The 2012 Billboard Music Awards were heavy on performances, but only a handful of actual trophies were handed out during the show.
Ty Burell and Julie Bowen of ABC’s “Modern Family” hosted the three-hour ABC broadcast and kicked off the show with profanity-laced spoofs of R&B, country and children’s videos. Ty and Julie paid tribute to the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb, who died earlier on Sunday.
LMFAO opened the show with a medley of their hits “Party Rock Anthem,” “Sorry for Party Rockin’” and “Sexy and I Know It.” They later accepted the Hot 100 Song of the Year trophy for “Party Rock Anthem” and the Duo/Group award.
Justin Bieber took the first award of the night, taking the Social Artist of the Year trophy. He spent more than 50 weeks on Billboard’s Social 50 chart. Justin thanked everyone for their support over the last five years as he’s grown up in the public eye. Justin delivered his latest hit, “Boyfriend,” later in the show using neon pops of color to accentuate his big production performance.
Lisa Marie Presley presented the Spotlight Award to Katy Perry, who scored five No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 from her album “Teenage Dream”. Michael Jackson is the only other artist to pull that off. Perry said she was honored to be in that company, but added she didn’t feel she compared to Michael though.
Perry took her 91-year-old grandmother as her date. Her grandmother actually lives in Las Vegas, and Perry said she couldn’t wait to do shots with her after the show.
Perry returned later in the show to sing her new single “Wide Awake,” which will be featured in her new concert movie, “Katy Perry: Part of Me”, later this summer. She called the song the most personal, intimate song she’s ever released. There’s little doubt it was inspired by her failed marriage to Russell Brand. Perry performed the song while flying above the stage in a Cirque du Soleil-inspired production number.
A newly svelte Kelly Clarkson took the stage to sing her brand-new single, “Dark Side.” She was introduced by Robin Thicke — her fellow mentor on ABC’s upcoming music competition series, “Duets”.
UK boy band The Wanted were on hand to sing “Chasing the Sun” before moving on to their new big hit “Glad You Came.”
Miley Cyrus wore a white and very revealing man’s suit jacket as a dress to present the New Artist award to Wiz Khalifa. Wiz admitted he was shaking as he accepted the trophy. He later paid tribute to the late Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of the Beastie Boys. Wiz also presented the Duo/Group trophy to LMFAO.
Chris Brown sang his new hit, “Turn Up the Music,” after an introduction from Brandy. The performance featured Chris dancing with a group of backup dancers and people riding bikes with lighted spokes on a ramp behind him. Chris later accepted the R&B Artist trophy, thanking his fans and the radio stations that played his records.
Natasha Bedingfield gave the evening’s tribute to the late Donna Summer with a performance of “Last Dance.”
Whoopi Goldberg was on hand to introduce the Whitney Houston tribute portion of the show. John Legend kicked it off by singing “Greatest Love of All,” and Whitney’s Sparkle co-star Jordin Sparks delivered the late legend’s signature hit, “I Will Always Love You.”
Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown and sister-in-law Pat Houston were in the audience for the tribute and later came onstage to accept the Billboard Millennium Award on Houston’s behalf.
Kris Kristofferson opened the tribute to Billboard’s Woman of the Year, Taylor Swift, who was honored for her record breaking career. Zooey Deschanel came out to recognize Taylor’s philanthropic efforts too and introduce her to accept her Woman of the Year trophy.
Taylor thanked her fans for the trophy saying, “I’m so humbled and honored by this.”
Usher opened his performance of “Scream” in a top hat and tuxedo, dancing with a masked woman in red dress and cape. The woman suddenly disappeared, and a man who looked just like Usher wearing the same outfit appeared onstage. They performed the same dance routine side-by-side before the real Usher finished out the song in command of the stage.
Carly Rae Jepsen gave the first big awards show performance of her big hit “Call Me Maybe.”
Luke Bryan introduced Carrie Underwood’s dramatic performance of “Blown Away,” the title cut from her bestselling new album.
Linkin Park delivered a fiery performance of their new single, “Burn It Down,” from their upcoming album Living Things.
Cee Lo Green reunited with his group Goodie Mob to sing “Fight to Win” before launching into the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” in tribute to Yauch.
Taio Cruz introduced the winner of the Billboard Battle of the Band contest, Patent Pending, for their performance on the show.
Gavin DeGraw introduced Nelly Furtado to perform her new single “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better).”
Alicia Keys honored Stevie Wonder with Billboard’s Icon Award, teaming up with him for a medley of his hits “Higher Ground” and “Overjoyed.” Stevie celebrated his birthday last week and asked Alicia to sing “Empire State of Mind” as his birthday present. After a speech asking for worldwide unity, Stevie sang a new song called “Join Our Love” before closing out the night with “Superstition.”