15 Awesome Billboard Music Award Performances

Beyonce lets the world soak in her performance of "Run the World (Girls)" at the Billboard Music Awards.

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Before the BBMAs hit Las Vegas, check out 15 of the most memorable moments from the show's history.

Like the Billboard charts themselves, the Billboard Music Awards have a history of celebrating a diverse cross-section of the music landscape. From the girl-powered punch of Beyoncé’s “Run the World” to the pitch-black rock of Metallica's "Unforgiven II" to the seductive snap, crackle and pop of Britney Spears and Rihanna's "S&M," the ceremony has always collected music's biggest stars in one place and let their hits shine in front of millions.

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That legacy will continue on ABC on May 18, 2014, when a slew of stars will strut their chart-topping stuff on the Billboard Music Awards stage. But before that chapter is written, take a look back at 15 of the most memorable performances in the show’s history.

Rihanna and Britney Spears (2011)

Soon after releasing her fifth studio album, Rihanna took to the stage and opened the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, enticing the crowd with a high-octane performance of one of her most controversial singles, “S&M.” Clad in white pleather, chains and little else, the seductress paraded around the stage, hands groping at her sides before being joined by Britney Spears, who donned a matching black bondage suit, complete with bunny ears. The pair even shared a smooch and had a pillow fight later in the set, making for one of the steamiest sets in BBMA history.

‘N Sync (2000)

‘N Sync's 2000 performance of their "No Strings Attached" hit "Just Got Paid" demonstrates everything you should fondly remember about the boy band era: colorful costumes, elaborate set pieces, lock-step dance moves, and of course, the sweet pop harmonies. Watching Justin Timberlake and the rest of the guys shimmy in their pimp suits and play-fight with another group of dancers is a perfect snapshot of the era.

Katy Perry (2012)

Katy Perry enjoyed five number one hits on her 2010 album "Teenage Dream," tying a record set by Michael Jackson. For her big year, Perry won the Spotlight Award at the 2012 BBMAs and treated the audience to a performance of her brand-new single "Wide Awake,” which she debuted on the show. You might say she was literally "falling from cloud nine" during this one!

Beyoncé (2011)

Before being honored with the Millennium Awardat the 2011 Billboard Music Awards, R&B superstar Beyoncé took to the stage for an empowering performance of “Run the World (Girls).” After a video montage featuring shout out from like-minded ladies like Michelle Obama, Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga, Bey stunned the audience with a jaw-dropping performance that featured an interactive video screen, 100 dancers and enough pyrotechnics to light up the Vegas skyline.

Taylor Swift (2013)

Taylor Swift opened the 2013 Billboard Music Awards with a... well, a happy-go-lucky stroll, which turned into a spectacularly choreographed dance party through the halls of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, which morphed into a ride on the back of a bicycle through the crowd, which transformed into a soaring rendition of the back half of "22" when she finally reached the stage. Swift would go on to win Top Artist of the Year later that evening for an incredible run behind her "Red" album, but really, she would have been a strong contender based solely on that on-the-go opening show.

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