British Grammy-winning singer Adele won 12 awards from 18 nominations for her juggernaut album “21,” including top artist, top female artist and top album.
Her awards were not presented during the live show and the singer was not present. But LMFAO, the uncle-nephew duo Redfoo and SkyBlu, showed in trademark outrageous fashion and picked up two awards, song of the year for “Party Rock Anthem” and the top duo/group, along with four more honors.
Rappers Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne and R&B singer Chris Brown took honors for top new artist, male artist of the year and R&B artist of the year, respectively.
LMFAO kicked off the show with an energetic medley of their hits “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy And I Know It.” They were followed later by a shirtless Chris Brown performing his dance single “Turn Up The Music” with BMX bikers doing stunts.
Katy Perry, clad in a white dress, hung above the stage in a swing to sing her latest “personal and intimate” heartbreak single “Wide Awake,” while Justin Bieber, one of last year’s big winners at the Billboard show, presented a grown up image this year after turning 18-years-old, singing “Boyfriend” with dancers dressed as clowns and neon geisha girls.
Other performers included Kelly Clarkson, The Wanted, Carly Rae Jepsen, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Linkin Park, Nelly Furtado and Billboard Battle of the Bands winner, Patent Pending.
Taylor Swift was given the Billboard Woman of the Year honor for her success as a recording artist, and she picked up the award from “New Girl” TV star Zooey Deschanel and veteran artist Kris Kristofferson, who praised Swift for having “done it the old-fashioned way by speaking the truth beautifully.”
Bieber picked up the award for the most social artist, thanking his 22 million Twitter followers and 43 million Facebook fans, saying “the Internet is where I got my start.”
Perry was given the Spotlight award for being the only female artist in history to see five No. 1 singles from one album. Michael Jackson is the only artist to have received the award previously.
Veteran soul singer Stevie Wonder, 62, was honored with the Icon award this year and sang “Higher Ground” and “Overjoyed” with R&B singer Alicia Keys, wrapping the set with his hit song “Superstition.”
With some big losses in the music world already this year, the awards show featured numerous tributes to late artists. Early in the show, hosts Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell paused to remember late Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, who died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, with a moment of silence.
New Zealand artist Natasha Bedingfield paid tribute to late Disco Queen Donna Summer, who died earlier this week after fighting lung cancer, saying “if we can remember her through her music, this will never really be her last dance,” before kicking off into Summer’s hit, “Last Dance.”
Wiz Khalifa paid tribute to late Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch, who passed away earlier this month after battling cancer, while Cee Lo Green joined his hip hop band Goodie Mob to perform “Fight For Your Right” in Yauch’s memory.
The biggest tribute of the night was for Whitney Houston, who died suddenly aged 48 in February this year. The late singer was posthumously given the Millennium award, while singers John Legend and Jordin Sparks led heartfelt renditions of “The Greatest Love of All” and “I Will Always Love You” against a backdrop of photographs of Houston. Houston’s sister-in-law Patricia Houston and teenage daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown accepted the award, with the late singer’s emotional daughter saying “I’m just blessed to have been in such an incredible woman’s life, there will never be another one ever.”