Chaka Khan, Debbie Gibson Make Cameos at Billboard Japan Awards

Billboard Japan held its second annual Music Awards at the Tokyo Midtown complex in Roppongi, in central Tokyo, with live performances taking place both at the ceremony and at the Billboard Live venue, which were broadcast on a large screen at the awards show.

Organizers estimate 1,000 attended in total.

Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde was present to offer opening remarks and to hand over a few of the glass obelisks. During his speech he spoke about the wealth of talented Japanese musicians and Billboard's commitment to covering the Japanese music industry.

For the second year running boy band Exile whose seventh studio album "Aisubeki Mirai e" topped the album charts took home Billboard Japan's Artist of the Year award. Matsu, one of the original five members of the band, accepted the prize. Exile has now grown to 14 members. The award was decided by popular vote.

The next most prestigious category, Billboard Japan Top Pop Artists of 2010, went to five artists: Exile, the phenomenally successful girl band AKB48, the eclectic J-pop'ster Kana Nishino and the raucous "visual-kei" (visual rock) band Sid," and Nana Mizuki, who records mainly for animation soundtracks, which are hugely popular in Japan.

The artists were eligible to win by topping one of the Billboard Japan charts, which include Billboard Japan Hot 100, Billboard Japan Singles Sales and Billboard Japan Top Albums. Internet voting determined the winners.

Nana Mizuki, adorned in a white sequined dress reminiscent of anime film, performed two of her hit tracks "Phantom Minds" and "Shin Ai."

In the international categories, Billboard Japan K-Pop New Artist of the Year 2010 went to the flashy Korean girl group 4Minute. Wearing skin-tight red and black leather jumpsuits they performed two of their well-choreographed dance pop tracks, "First" and "Muzik."

Debbie Gibson, who just released a Japan-only album, "Ms. Vocalist," made up exclusively of covers of famous songs from Japanese male singers, performed her hit "Shake Your Love" and the Yutaka Ozaki cover from her album "I Love You." Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys was on hand to perform "Just One Kiss" and called Japan a 'second home' when interviewed on stage.

Japanese R&B singer A.I. and American R&B legend Chaka Khan received the Billboard Japan International Collaboration Artists of the Year 2010 award for two tracks they recorded together for the Japanese vocalist's LP The Last A.I., released on December 1. Khan and A.I. closed the show performing "One More Try," as well as Khan's number "Through the Fire."


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