The 2011 Billboard Music Awards kicked off with a bang, as pop stars like Rihanna, Britney Spears and the Black Eyed Peas rocked the stage of Las Vegas' MGM Grand, while Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Taio Cruz and Lady Antebellum snagged the first awards of the night.
Britney Spears made a triumphant return to the Billboard Music Awards stage with a surprise performance alongside Rihanna on the latter's hit single "S&M." The pop star pairing featured stripper poles, jeweled handcuffs, sultry backup dancers and two iconic pop singers strutting their stuff.
Soon after, host Ken Jeong took the stage in a trim suit and injected some high-class comedy into the ceremony with a throwback song-and-dance number alongside Train's Pat Monahan and Nicki Minaj. "It's great to see you again in Vegas -- this time, with my clothes on!" Jeong told the crowd, nodding to his hilarious nude scene in the Sin City-set blockbuster comedy "The Hangover." Jeong and "Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet later played dueling Elvis impersonators, and the host was later shown cruising around Las Vegas and taking in a Celine Dion show.
"Glee" star Matthew Morrison presented the first award of the night -- the Billboard 200 Album Artist of the Year award -- to Taylor Swift, whose third full-length "Speak Now" topped the chart with over a million copies sold in its first week last year. "The impact of the album is all determined by the fans," the country star told the crowd, "and you've just given me another reason to be completely in love with you. Thank you so much!"
Justin Bieber took home the Digital Artist of the Year trophy, and embraced pop star girlfriend Selena Gomez when the award was announced. "I want to thank anybody who helped me get out of my hometown and live out my dream!" the pop star said.
Meanwhile, Taio Cruz, who topped the Hot 100 last year with "Break Your Heart" and "Dynamite," took home the Hot 100 Song of the Year trophy for "Dynamite," marking what the admittedly nervous singer described as "the first time I've ever received an award." Lady Antebellum followed by taking home the Country Song of the Year trophy for "Need You Now."
The Black Eyed Peas rocked the stage in futuristic attire with a high-octane medley of "Just Can't Get Enough," "The Time (Dirty Bit)," "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling," which was highlighted by an elaborate dance routine and Fergie attacking some impossibly high notes. Keith Urban followed with a performance of his country hit "Long Hot Summer" as wife Nicole Kidman watched on smiling.
The 2011 Billboard Music Awards will continue on ABC from Las Vegas with performances by Nicki Minaj, Lady Antebellum, Cee Lo Green, Taio Cruz, Far East Movement and Ke$ha, among others, while Neil Diamond will take the stage to deliver a not-to-be-missed performance.