Delayed Billboard Music Awards occur despite pandemic

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Sabrina Grossman, Contributing Writer

COVID-19 has changed the entire entertainment industry. Award shows are one of the many aspects that have been forced to adapt to new safety guidelines.  The highly anticipated Billboard Music Awards are no exception.  After being postponed from its initial date, April 29, it was announced in Aug. that the show would finally take place on Oct. 14, after an almost six month delay.  

Many changes were made to the awards to adhere to  COVID-19 regulations.  The location of the awards ceremony was switched from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to The Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.  Unlike previous years, there was no audience at the awards due to pandemic.  Everyone who entered the theater was required to get their temperature taken and complete a health screening in order to ensure that the venue was virus free.  In past years, all performances were live, but this year, some were pre-recorded.  During some performances, background dancers and band members wore masks, and some artists wore their masks to receive their awards. 

“I was so excited that they found a way to conduct awards safely, even if some things were going to change.  It made me feel hopeful for the return of other live events that were interrupted by the coronavirus,” said junior Leah Schachter.

After releasing the nominees a month before the awards, winners were chosen based on a one year period of Billboard Charts, song sales, tour success, radio airplay, and more.  Some awards were fan-voted, such as Billboard Chart Achievement, Top Social Artist, and Best Collaboration.  Voting for these categories opened two weeks prior to the show and took place on the social media video platform TikTok, who sponsored the event.

Kelly Clarkson returned to host this year’s Billboard Awards, making it her third consecutive year.  In addition, Clarkson opened the awards performing “Higher Love,” by Whitney Houston and was accompanied onstage by acapella group Pentatonix. and Sheila E. any other singers collaborated on the performance virtually, harmonizing with the onstage performers. 

There were many other performances that left a mark on the night.  Demi Lovato performed and sang “Commander in Chief,” her newly released song in response to the 2020 US Presidential Election.  John Legend gave an emotional performance of his song “Never Break.”  He dedicated it to his wife, Chrissy Teigen, who had recently suffered a miscarriage.  Popular artists such as Alicia Keys, BTS, Sia, Post Malone were also included in the lineup.  Breakout artist Doja Cat performed a medley of her songs including her debut hit, “Say So.”  

“I think Doja Cat was smart to perform ‘Say So’ because it is a very trendy song right now, especially on Tik Tok, and everyone knows it.  I think the performance itself was very interesting and fun to watch.  I loved her silver costume and the white background with the flames,” said freshman Elina Sommer.

Post Malone swept the night, winning nine total awards, including Top Artist and Top Rap Artist.  The winner of Top Female Artist, Top Billboard 200 Album, and Top New Artist was Billie Eillish.  She promoted staying safe during the pandemic by keeping her mask on while accepting her awards.  She also urged her fans to vote, as did Lizzo, who won Top Song Sales Artist, and gave a very powerful speech when accepting the award.  Wearing a dress covered with the word “vote,” Lizzo spoke about the importance of making your voice heard.  She claimed that you need to use your voice and power to make yourself heard in this year’s important election.

Whether it’s through music, protest or your right to vote, use your power. Use your voice and refuse to be suppressed,” Lizzo stated.

“There were a lot of people who won more than one award which is really surprising,” said freshman Makena Romero.

The Top Country Artist was Luke Combs and the Top Duo/Group was the Jonas Brothers.  Harry Styles won the Billboard Chart Achievement Award, which was voted on by the fans  and the winner of Top Soundtrack was Frozen Two.  Some other winners were Panic! At the Disco for Top Rock Artist, BTS for Top Social Artist, Bad Bunny for Top Latin Artist, The Chainsmokers for Top Dance/Electronic Artist, and Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road,” won Top Hot 100 Song.  Garth Brooks was awarded the 2020 Icon Award and performed a medley of some of his hit songs at the award show to celebrate his achievement.

The night was certainly a big success for many artists and a small return to normalcy in the music industry.