With so many remarkable artists taking the stage at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night in Las Vegas, it was very difficult to pick favorites.
Below, we’ve rounded up the 10 performances that left us ecstatic, breathless and even a little misty-eyed. (FYI, Kanye might’ve made this list, but since 20 percent of his audio was censored from the TV broadcast, it was kind of hard to objectively judge.)
10) Simple Minds
After an introduction by Molly Ringwald, Simple Minds played the iconic “Don’t You Forget About Me” to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Breakfast Club (and pay homage to the late auteur John Hughes). Honestly, this is a song that’s always welcome in our lives. Plus, seeing Taylor Swift and Molly watch the performance arm-in-arm was a highlight.
9) Tori Kelly
Playing an awards show before most people know who you are is a daunting task. Thankfully for viewers, Kia’s One to Watch artist Tori Kelly — armed with just her powerhouse vocals, a great song and an acoustic guitar — slayed at the 2015 BBMAs. Nicely done.
8) Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy’s Pulp Fiction-referencing, Munsters-sampling “Uma Thurman” is irresistible on its own merits. But throw in a dozen dancers dressed like Mrs. Mia Wallace and Wiz Khalifa, and you have one of the best BBMAs performances.
Who would have thought the “All of Me” balladeer and the “All About That Bass” hitmaker would sound so stellar together? John Legend and Meghan Trainor trading vocals on their “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” duet was one of the night’s quiet victories: Not a show-stopper, but a performance that stuck with you.
6) Mariah Carey
Yeah, that note at the end sounded a little shrill, but before that, Mimi’s voice was impeccable during her chill-inducing medley of “Vision of Love” and “Infinity.” And hey, maybe she tossed in that final vocal run as a hat-tip to any dogs watching at home.
With shades of a ’50s prom dance and Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” “Girl Crush” is one of the lovelier tracks Little Big Town has recorded. At the BBMAs, Faith Hill joined the group for an elegantly dressed, gorgeously harmonized take on the single.
When it was revealed Imagine Dragons would pay homage to the late Ben E. King at the 2015 BBMAs with a version of the oft-covered “Stand By Me,” fans of both artists could be forgiven for being skeptical. But the rock outfit owned their subtler side, turning out a gently heartbreaking version of the 1961 classic. It was a fitting tribute to his beautiful voice.
The boys behind the Hot 100 No. 1 — Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth — teamed with iconoclastic violinist Lindsey Stirling for a heartfelt take on the Furious 7 single. During their performance, footage of the late Paul Walker played in the background. Oh yes, there were tears.
2) Ed Sheeran
The evening’s most impassioned performance came from Ed Sheeran, who put the Gentle Ginger persona on hold for an all-out version of “Bloodstream.” In addition to slapping his guitar like a subway busker, he pulled off the unique trick of shout-singing into the mic without actually sounding hoarse or rough-around-the-edges. Hats off to Sheeran, for real.
1) Nick Jonas
We were expecting Nick Jonas’ BBMAs performance to be great, but damn, he absolutely dominated the MGM Grand during his neon light-drenched, Miami Vice-esque performance of “Jealous.” In a night filled with performances from pros (some of whom have more years and Billboard hits to their name), the already-ascending JoBro was the evening’s biggest live standout.