While Taylor Swift might’ve dominated the iHeartRadio Music Awards in terms of the actual awards, the standout performer of iHeart 2016 was less obvious. The three-hour awards show, broadcast live from The Forum in Inglewood, California, on Sunday (April 3) with Jason Derulo hosting, was stuffed with an eclectic roster of performers. From knockout vocal showcases to dirt bikes as backup dancers, here are all the performances at the iHeartRadio Music Awards ranked from worst to best.
Honorable mention: Jason Derulo’s choreography-heavy opener — where the “Talk Dirty” singer gave his pipes a rest while he danced to other people’s 2015 hits — gets special props. A Derulo dance is always a good thing.
13. Maroon 5, “Animals”
Playing live but not actually performing at The Forum, Maroon 5’s sound seemed a little muddy during their iHeart performance. While the band sounded tight, it was hard to make out the individual instruments. Add to that the fact that Adam Levine hugged his mic the whole time — not really the most engaging thing to watch on a TV awards show — and this was a bit of a letdown for what you might expect.
12. Pitbull, “Fireball”
A Pitbull concert is a guaranteed good time, but the sound mix during his iHeartRadio performance was a little off, with his vocals coming across much louder than the music. Like Maroon 5, Pit was performing live but not playing at The Forum, so the sound issues seemed like a consistent problem from the offsite artists. Regardless, his dancers were on fire and his charm was on full display.
11. Jason Derulo, “If It Ain’t Love”
As if it wasn’t enough to host the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Derulo pulled double duty, performing new single “If It Ain’t Love” at the 2016 awards show. While his dance moves are flawless, the song itself is a bit weak, with a chorus that just doesn’t entice further listening.
10. Iggy Azalea, “Team”
Iggy had a rough 2015, but fans can breath easier (and haters can start grinding their teeth) because her 2016 comeback is on the right track. “Team” is a banger — even if you’re not an Azalean, it’s hard to deny the catchy sing-song hook. And at the 2016 iHeartRadio Awards, Iggy looked like she was having a genuinely great time getting down onstage with her dancers. Those who thought they were done with her should be ready to give Iggy another shake this year.
9. G-Eazy & Bebe Rexha, “Me, Myself & I”
It was G-Eazy’s first major awards show performance, but you wouldn’t know by watching it. He seemed immensely assured, prowling the stage while Rexha crooned the song’s earworm of a hook. More Bebe Rexha at awards shows, please.
8. Chris Brown, “Liquor,” “Wrist,” “Back to Sleep”
Playing a medley of songs, Breezy showcased his sinuous vocals and his peerless dance moves during the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Bieber’s an impressive dancer these days, but Brown still moves reflexively, as if it’s second nature; that was on full display during “Wrist.”
7. Meghan Trainor, “No”
Performing in front of a giant glowing “No” sign, Meghan Trainor made it 100 percent clear that she don’t want no scrubs in her life with her Destiny’s Child-esque lead single from her second album. Her comfort as a choreographed dancer doesn’t quite match the fire she brings to her vocals on “No,” but thanks to her delivery, she still dominated.
6. The Weeknd, “Acquainted” & “Might Not” with Belly
Although his portion wasn’t actually live at the iHeartRadio Music Awards (and he was in his native Canada), The Weeknd still managed to pull off a performance that stood out as one of the night’s finer moments thanks to his buttery R&B croon.
5. Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” & “Company”
Opening with his smash hit “Love Yourself” and transitioning into his new Purpose single “Company,” Bieber brought his swaggy style and baggy clothes to the iHeartRadio Music Awards. His dance moves were on point and the crowd went absolutely nuts for him — one girl got extremely lucky, copping a 30-second dance with the pop heartthrob.
4. Fetty Wap, “Again”
Surrounded by dudes popping wheelies and whipping donuts on dirt bikes, Fetty Wap rap/sang “Again.” It’s been a while since we’ve heard the top 40 Hot 100 hit, and man, we had no idea how much we missed it until he used “Again” to inject a much-needed jolt into the first hour of the awards show. Taylor Swift danced in her seat to it, because that’s just what she does.
3. Zayn, “Like I Would”
Despite the raining laser light show, Zayn’s voice was front and center during his debut live TV solo performance in the U.S. Always one of One Direction’s strongest vocalists, Zayn’s bluesy pop croon was impressive and immaculate. Anyone who doubted if he could handle the mic on his own can stop worrying — by the time he hit his melisma-fied finale, it was clear he’s got his eye on a career second-act like Justin Timberlake’s.
2. Demi Lovato & Brad Paisley, “Stone Cold”
Demi Lovato stunned the iHeartRadio Music Awards with a knockout performance of her power ballad “Stone Cold.” Aside from the fact that she delivered the night’s most vocally astounding performance, her iHeart moment boasted a special appearance by Brad Paisley on guitar. We would not complain about a studio re-recording of the song with Paisley.
1. DNCE, “Cake by the Ocean” & “Le Freak” with Nile Rodgers
Sure, DNCE isn’t a rock band, but it’s still a rarity to see a rock band setup at an awards show these days. It’s even more surprising to see a traditional band hit one of these shows and not pretend to be too cool for the whole affair. But DNCE committed wholeheartedly, delivering “Cake by the Ocean” with so much joy you almost felt it was the first time they’d played it in years. In the midst of their hit, DNCE brought surprise guest Nile Rodgers onstage to perform a mashup of their hit and Chic’s signature song, the immortal disco classic “Le Freak.” It was a weird, wonderful moment — and the night’s best.