The pair started off the show in colorful fashion, bringing their whimsical "ME!" music video to life with a marching band, pastel outfits and even Mary Poppins-styled umbrellas. Though the song came out just days ago, Urie and Swift performed “Me!” as if they’ve been practicing it for months. Even if they have, their energy was infectious.
Kelly Clarkson's second annual medley
A perfect case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The superstar kicked off her second BBMAs hosting gig with a medley of the year’s biggest hits from Florida Georgia Line’s “Meant to Be” to Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up,” and it was just as fun to watch as last year’s opening. Round three next year, Kelly?
Dan Reynolds' call to end conversion therapy
Many of the night’s winners' used their acceptance speeches to spread a positive message, starting with Imagine Dragons. Frontman Dan Reynolds used their top rock artist win to inform about the negative impacts of conversion therapy, calling on fans to urge their state legislators protect LGBTQ youth. “I just want to take this moment to say there are still 34 states that have no laws banning conversion therapy … on top of that 58 percent of our LGBTQ population live in those states,” he said. “It needs to change.”
Ciara’s son stealing her show
Unsurprisingly, Ciara crushed her performance of “Thinkin Bout You,” nailing every second of the choreography and sounding great. But it was her son, Future Zahir, that had everyone’s attention, as he danced atop Russell Wilson’s shoulders in a stylish jumpsuit and aviator sunglasses. Even prior to the performance, though, Future was the talk of Twitter, as he posed with BTS on the red carpet.
Drake’s props to Arya Stark
During Drake’s first of three acceptance speeches, the rapper thanked those who helped make Scorpion – for which he won top Billboard 200 album – a triumph. Before leaving the stage, he made sure to thank the real MVP: "Shout-out to Arya Stark for putting in that work last week,” he said, even using his trophy as a sword. (If you didn’t watch Game of Thrones this week, take Drake’s call-out as a sign that you probably should.)
Tori Kelly showing Dan + Shay some competition
It’s almost hard to imagine anyone else singing a Dan + Shay song as flawlessly as crooner Shay Mooney, but the country duo met their match with Tori Kelly. The singer-songwriter performed Dan + Shay’s Country Airplay-topping single “Speechless” with the guys, hitting every power note and delivering awe-inspiring runs almost effortlessly.
The J Sisters getting down to “Sucker”
The Jonas Brothers had fans going crazy as they performed their smash hit “Sucker,” but it was their real-life leading ladies who were the most excited about their first award show performance since their reunion. Priyanka Chopra, Sophie Turner and Danielle Jonas – who refer to themselves as “the J Sisters” – danced and sang every word together, having as much fun as the guys were on stage.
BTS’ genuinely shocked reaction to winning top group
Though the Korean boy band have become phenoms over the past year, even they couldn’t believe they beat out the likes of Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Panic! At the Disco and Dan + Shay for top duo/group. Their jaw drops and fist pumps made the moment particularly special to watch.
Ariana Grande proving her place as the current pop queen
Even after delivering two wowing performances at both weekends of Coachella, Grande managed to bring the house down with her pink-drenched performance of “7 Rings.” She didn’t need *NSYNC or Justin Bieber this time, hitting every pop and lock while also nailing every note.
Cardi B’s no-filter acceptance speeches (with honorable mention to her abs)
There was hardly any contesting the energy Cardi B brought to the stage as she accepted her two awards. In her first acceptance speech for top rap song – during which her six pack was on full display – the “I Like It” rapper hilariously called out an audience member for cutting her off. Later, while accepting the top Hot 100 song trophy on behalf of “Girls Like You” collaborators Maroon 5, she celebrated with a classic Cardi cackle.
Maluma’s starry eyes for Mariah
After tearing up the stage with Madonna for their new collab “Medellin,” Maluma showed that he was just as excited to be in the presence of another legend, Mariah Carey. Cameras caught the Latin star singing along, but what viewers particularly noticed was the way he looked at her:
Mariah’s quick-ditch of the tissue
Mariah Carey gave a heartfelt and inspiring speech while accepting her Icon Award. But perhaps the best – and most Mariah – part of her appearance was her solution to having nowhere to put her tissue after crying:
Brendon Urie’s literal “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” experience
Not long after Urie performed his high-energy hit “Hey Look Ma, I Made It,” the Panic! At the Disco singer’s boastful tune came to fruition as he accepted the award for top rock song (ironically for “High Hopes”). The Las Vegas native’s parents were in the audience, giving him the chance to literally say, “Look ma, I made it!”
Paula Abdul’s impressive dance moves
Closing out the show with a medley of throwback jams, Abdul showed that you can still dance like Ciara when you’re in your fifties. As the superstar delivered hits like “Opposites Attract” and “Forever Your Girl,” she flaunted her fearlessness by jumping off platforms and serving as a human pendulum, wowing everyone watching in the process – and proving that once you’re a Billboard star, you’re always a Billboard star.