Last night, the 2018 Billboard Music Awards took place. As usual, it was an unnecessarily long awards show where more lackluster performances were showcased than awards given out. I still believe that the Billboard Music Awards are the single most pointless awards ceremony; it’s just three laborious hours of shameless promotion for Billboard, Pepsi, and friends. Regardless, here is a ranking of the night’s strongest performances.
#15. Dua Lipa, “New Rules”
For her first big awards show performance in the U.S., Dua Lipa wasted the opportunity. Her top ten hit, “New Rules,” has dominated the American airwaves and became a millennial and Gen-Z anthem. From the minute she opened up her mouth, Dua sound flat and off-key. She eventually improved throughout the performance, but she is still using the same staging and concept from the video. The “New Rules” music video has been watched a staggering 1.2 BILLION times, we all know the concept so she should find new ways to reinvent the song. Also, she inexplicably used a head-mic and instead of dancing or doing any sort of choreography, she stalked onstage with a sliver of stage presence. She looked stunning though!
#14. Macklemore & Kesha, “Good Ol’ Days”
To start off, this song was a weird choice. “Good Ol’ Days” peaked outside fo the Top 40, it was kind of the song most people knew but didn’t care for. If anything, the song highlights the fact that Macklemore rarely switches his flow and the sounds the same on nearly every song. Kesha sounded fine and the staging and wardrobe were boring. It was a giant snooze-fest.
#13. Shawn Mendes, “In My Blood”
This was a standard Shawn Mendes performance. His vocals were a bit tamer than usual and he didn’t really deliver on that sublime climax in the chorus. The staging was pretty and he was as handsome as ever, I do wish he brought something new though. Read our full reviews of “In My Blood” and “Lost In Japan” here.
#12. Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, “The Middle”
The performance was run-of-the-mill, but Maren Morris looked like an absolute STAR! She did get a bit off during the second verse, but her stage presence was bubbly and she looked beautiful. Pretty standard performance, but there is something about “The Middle” that elevates the performance, the song is simply great.
#11. John Legend, “A Good Night”
John Legend’s new collaboration with Bloodpop, “A Good Night,” is kind of boring, but this performance brought it to life. John sounded great as always and looked like he was genuinely having fun. Ciara stanning in the audience when the jubilant choir came in made the performance, and the song, even better.
#10. BTS, “Fake Love”
K-Pop phenomenon, BTS, won Top Social Artist for a second consecutive year and debuted their new single “Fake Love.” The boys had by far the most fans in the Vegas audience, and the new song is solid. The language barrier becomes a minor issue because you can’t help but chant along to the hook and be mesmerized by their insane energy. That being said, at times their synchronicity was off and their lip-syncing was embarrassingly lazy. Read our full review of LOVE YOURSELF 轉 ‘Tear’ here.
#9. Jennifer Lopez & DJ Khaled, “Dinero”
Look, Jennifer Lopez has delivered the same song and the same performance for the better part of the past decade. Regardless, she is still an excellent entertainer. DJ Khaled needs to be left at home; at first, his spiel was kind of funny, but now it’s annoying, stupid, and distracting. Luckily, Cardi B’s virtual appearance somewhat made up for it. The fact the J-Lo shared her stage time was him is simultaneously admirable and concerning, though.
#8. Salt-N-Pepa & En Vogue, “Hits Medley”
Ah, good old nostalgia. Salt-N-Pepa still look great as ever and they had energy that embarrassed performers less than half their age. The Grammy-winning rap trio dished out the hits like “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Push It” with pure fun and ease. Their set culminated in a joint performance with the ladies of En Vogue, who are eternally fine. “Whatta Man” was a great way to close out the ceremonies featuring a quasi-feature from host, Kelly Clarkson.
#7. Camila Cabello & Pharrell, “Sangria Wine / Havana”
Camila and Pharrell debuted their interesting new collaboration, “Sangria Wine” but they seemed stronger apart than together, they lacked chemistry and the song didn’t translate very well live. After their performance, Camila gave a dance break that was just a whole lot of nothing. Even with a legion of backup dancers, the segment fell flat. Finally, it what seemed like an endless performance, she moved into a new arrangement of Havana and finished very strong. Visually, the performance was stunning. Read our reviews of “Real Friends” and “Never Be The Same” here.
#6. Normani & Khalid, “Love Lies”
Let’s get this out of the way now, Normani’s entrance and solo segment were easily one of the best moments of the entire night. Her stage presence and dancing were straight out of Beyoncé’s playbook, but her vocals definitely need work. I’m not sure what was up with Khalid but he was a wreck during the performance. His voice was shaky and he had absolutely zero chemistry with Normani. Nevertheless, Normani really saved the performance and elevated it; don’t believe me, just watch! Read our review of “Love Lies” here.
#5. Shawn Mendes & Khalid featuring the Marjory Stoneman Douglass Student Choir, “Youth”
Given the recent school shooting in Texas and the inspiring resilience of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass students, the lyrics of Shawn Mendes’ and Khalid’s “Youth” ring especially true and vital. The emotional performance was incredibly moving and everyone sounded great.
#4. Ariana Grande, “No Tears Left to Cry”
We can always count on Ariana for a solid awards show performance, and she did just that. For the second official live performance of her smash new single, Ariana stuck to the concept of the video this time highlighting the umbrella and staircase scenes. She nailed the climax and sounded beautiful throughout the track. Unfortunately, she had to hold back a bit because of the difficulty of the chorus, but it was still a stellar opening performance, she’s an undeniable star that shines brightly among the lackluster performers and “talents” of her generation. Read our full review of “No Tears Left to Cry” here.
#3. Janet Jackson, “ICON Medley: Nasty / If / Throb”
Janet still looks incredibly beautiful and she looked like she was having a ball on stage while performing her iconic hits and dance breaks. Janet Jackson was being honored with the Icon Award, and her performance proved that she has decades of hits and influence. The only gripe I have with the performance was the length, it was way too short. If I had to sit through more than a minute and a half of DJ Khaled’s fighting and constant obnoxious audience pans to Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello, I could have been given a Janet performance that was three times as long.
#2. Kelly Clarkson, “Whole Lotta Woman”
Kelly was a perfect host and her performance was the cherry on top. Even though she has nothing left to prove, she still showed out vocally, further cementing her as one of the top vocalists alive. Kelly brought all the fire and spunk and turned relatively simple staging into a canvas for a stellar performance. A true American Idol. Read our review of Kelly’s Meaning of Life here.
#1. Christina Aguilera & Demi Lovato, “Fall In Line”
This was a moving performance and seeing two vocal powerhouses collaborate on such an inspiring song was a sight to behold. Demi eventually overcame her nerves and their belting battle at the end was reminiscent of the classic 90’s vocal diva battles. I hope the song becomes a hit in some way, they killed it and reminded us what talent was on a night that was significantly lacking it. Read our review of Christina’s Liberation here.