Nicki Minaj kicked off the 2017 Billboard Music Awards with an explosive nine-minute performance of her hit songs alongside her mentor Lil Wayne and frequent collaborator David Guetta.
Minaj recently broke Aretha Franklin’s record for most songs placed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by a female artist. The rapper-singer, who was also joined by Jason Derulo at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, performed “No Frauds,” her song that was a response to fellow rapper Remy Ma’s infamous diss track against Minaj.
Minaj, sporting all black, was backed by a group of male and female dancers, some of whom were children. Minaj also performed “Light Up My Body,” during which she danced seductively on the floor. She also sang “Regret In Your Tears.”
Vanessa Hudgens, who is hosting the show on ABC with Ludacris, imitated Minaj’s rap onstage, which earned applause from the crowd. Hudgens also sang some of Celine Dion’s “I’m Your Lady” (Dion was set to perform later in the show).
Drake walked into the Billboard Awards an early winner, picking up 10 awards in an announcement made Sunday morning. Other early winners included Beyonce, who won five, and twenty one pilots, who won four.
The Chainsmokers and Halsey won the first televised award — top collaboration — for “Closer.”
“Honestly we wrote this on the back of a tour bus,” said Andrew Taggart, adding that Halsey “made this a hit song.”
Drake and the Chainsmokers are top contenders with 22 nominations each. The rapper and the electronic dance duo are two of the few top-nominated acts who plan to attend the show. Beyonce, Rihanna, Adele, Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, twenty one pilots and Shawn Mendes did not attend.
Some are on tour, while Beyonce is pregnant with twins. It was unclear if Justin Bieber would attend the show.
All 10 of those acts are nominated for the night’s biggest award — top artist. Performers include Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Drake, the Chainsmokers and Cher, who will receive the Icon award.
Some of Drake’s early wins included top Billboard 200 artist, top Hot 100 artist, top rap artist, top rap album (“Views”) and top R&B song (“One Dance”). Beyonce’s wins included top female artist, top touring artist and top R&B album for “Lemonade,” the visual project that won a Peabody Award on Saturday at its 76th annual event in New York.
The Chainsmokers, named top dance/electronic artist, are nominated twice for top Hot 100 song with “Closer,” which spent 12 weeks at No. 1 last year, and the Grammy-winning “Don’t Let Me Down,” which peaked at No. 3. Other nominees include Drake’s “One Dance” (10 weeks at No. 1); Justin Timberlake’s Oscar-nominated “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (a week at No. 1); and twenty one pilots’ “Heathens,” which peaked at No. 2.
Nominees for top Billboard 200 album are Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” Drake’s “Views,” Rihanna’s “Anti,” twenty one pilots’ “Blurryface” and the Weeknd’s “Starboy.”
Imagine Dragons, who will perform during the show, will pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell in words before they hit the stage. Cornell died Thursday after performing with Soundgarden in Detroit.
Others set to perform Sunday include Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, John Legend, Halsey, former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello and Julia Michaels, the singer who has also co-written hit songs for Bieber, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Nick Jonas, Hailee Steinfeld and more.