The biggest stars in music lit up the stage of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena for the Billboard Music Awards. But no one beamed brighter than Taylor Swift, who netted eight awards. Accepting her gold statue for top artist, Swift gave props to the 3.7 million fans who purchased “Red” and drove her across-the-board victories: “Thank you for making my music the soundtrack to your crazy emotions,” she said. “You are the longest and best relationship I’ve had.”
FULL 2013 BBMA RECAP
She also premiered her new single, “22,” in one of the night’s most spirited performances, which kicked off in her dressing room and wound its way through the audience before hitting the stage. Ditching her glittering blue Zuhair Murad mini-dress for a unicorn-emblazoned T-shirt and shorts, Swift sang of the joys of being her tender age, surrounded by a full posse (including members of two mainstay Vegas acts, Cirque du Soleil and Jabbawockeez). Billboard checked in with Swift just days after the show, as she was already back in the thick of her current U.S. tour.
Billboard: You were the night’s big winner. What was the highlight of the night for you personally?
Swift: For me the highlight of the night was standing onstage with my 15 breathless, beaming dancers after we finished our performance. We were all standing together and got to look out into a crowd that was giving us a standing ovation. It was a wonderful feeling.
Taylor Swift performs “22” at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards
What performances stood out to you? Was there anyone who surprised or moved you in a way you didn’t expect?
I loved Ed Sheeran’s performance because I get to see him move crowds with just an acoustic guitar and his voice every night on tour, and to watch him do that on a nationally televised scale made me so happy.
Who were you excited to see and meet at the show?
I was just excited that a bunch of my friends were there like Selena [Gomez and Ed]. It turned the night into more of a dance party than a high-pressure media event.
Madonna was the top touring artist. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road, have you learned anything by what she’s done in her career?
One element of Madonna’s career that really takes center stage is how many times she’s reinvented herself. It’s easier to stay in one look, one comfort zone, one musical style. It’s inspiring to see someone whose only predictable quality is being unpredictable.
There were also artists on hand who are part of the new wave of younger performers taking hold at radio — Selena Gomez performed, and Ariana Grande presented. What advice would you give them?
I never give advice unless someone asks me for it. One thing I’ve learned, and possibly the only advice I have to give, is to not be that person giving out unsolicited advice based on your own personal experience. I’ve always had a lot of older people giving me advice because I’m young, and in the end, it all comes down to who you want to be remembered as. Just be that.
Taylor Swift Q&A Backstage at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards
How did you celebrate your victorious night?
We had a giant dinner at Nobu for all of my bandmates, dancers and friends. It seemed like everyone was there. Ed, Selena, Austin Mahone . . . We were all just laughing together and rejoicing in a really fun evening.
How late were you out? Where did you go and who did you hang with?
I flew back to L.A. that night, so I was only out till about 1 a.m. Then I got home, said “hi” to my cat, then fell asleep in seconds.
You gave a heartfelt thank-you to your fans and acknowledged them as being “the longest and best relationship I’ve had.” How would you describe that relationship? And how did it feel to have the opportunity to thank them publicly as you accepted artist of the year?
I loved being able to thank my fans for this life they’ve given me. Being on tour, I get a nightly reminder of how lucky I am to get to stand on giant stages and sing for sold-out crowds. Now I have so many girls my age coming up to me and saying, “I’ve listened to you for seven years.” It’s crazy to me that we’ve been in each other’s lives that long and it still feels new. But hey, I guess that’s what real love feels like.