Swift, fun. and Maroon 5 all led the way heading into the Las Vegas ceremony with 11 nods each, but it quickly became clear that the night belonged to the blonde star as she dominated the prize giving from the offset. She entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena a six-time winner from the pre-show announcements alone, claiming accolades such as Top Country Artist, Top Country Album for Red and Top Country Song for We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, while she beat Adele, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Carly Rae Jepsen to be named Top Female Artist.
The singer added a further two trophies to her impressive haul during the big event itself, hosted by Tracy Morgan, but she wasn’t the only one celebrating – Justin Bieber was another main Billboard honouree. The Baby hitmaker fought off competition from Drake, Bruno Mars, Flo Rida and Jason Aldean to claim the Top Male Artist award, in addition to the Top Social Artist title and the inaugural Milestone Award, which was voted for by fans.
Other multiple winners included Rihanna, Gotye, One Direction and late Latin singer Jenni Rivera, while Madonna was feted as the Top Touring Artist. Accepting her honour for her Mdna world tour, the Material Girl said, “They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it took several international villages to put my show together and I would be here all night if I was to specifically thank all the people who were there to walk through the fire with me.”
Thanking her fans, she added, “Without you I wouldn’t have a show to do and a showgirl needs her fans so thank you for supporting me for three decades. Without you, I truly wouldn’t be here.” Music highlights on the night came from the likes of Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne and Chris Brown, while Pitbull doubled up for two sexy performances – first teaming up with a slimmed-down Christina Aguilera for Feel This Moment, with A-ha’s very own Morten Harket as their special guest, and then joining Jennifer Lopez for an energetic rendition of Live It Up.
Bieber also hit the stage twice, much to the delight of his fans, performing his solo hit Take You and showing off a robotic dance routine with will.i.am for ThatPower. Prince, the 2013 recipient of the Icon Award, closed the show in style, rocking out with a medley of his hits, including a slowed-down version of his classic Let’s Go Crazy to bring the curtain down on a night of celebrations.