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The Billboard Music Awards 2021 wrap up

Gurshabad Kang (@gurshabadkang)

The world is slowly but surely returning to post-pandemic normalcy as COVID cases decrease and vaccination numbers increase. This post pandemic life brings along with it: the return of award shows with live fans.

The 2021 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) took place live on May 23 in Los Angeles, California at the Microsoft Theater.

Nick Jonas was the host of the evening, and received lots of praise for continuing on with the show despite having a cracked rib. His outfits and glowy skin garnered a lot of buzz on Twitter and all over the internet, with many asking him to drop his skin care routine.

The BBMAs don't have a selection committee, but instead the nominees are based on how songs and artists chart. They mainly celebrate commercial success in the music industry, and most of the winners are well known to the general public. 

This year’s selection was based upon the reports and Billboard charts from March 21, 2020 to April 3, 2021.

And don’t worry if you weren’t able to catch the show, we’ve got you covered with a breakdown: 

The winners of two categories are determined by voting from fans: Top Social Artist which went to K-Pop band BTS, and Top Collaboration which was awarded to “I Hope” by Charlie Puth and Gabby Barrett.

P!nk received the Billboard Icon Award and now joins the likes of Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, who have won the same award in the past.

Another big moment was Drake taking home the Artist of the Decade Award, which he won on the basis of his performance on the charts over the past 10 years. He accepted the award with his son, Adonis, by his side, along with his parents and close friends. He handed the award to an astonished looking Adonis, and the crowd ate it up.

Drake holds the record for the most Billboard Music Award wins of all time and the most Top 10 Hits on the Billboard Hot 100, with 40 songs. In the 11 years since he first charted in the Top 10 with his song “Best I Ever Had,” he has beat out Madonna, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. 

His speech was one of the most shared highlights of the event.

Drake even released a video on his Instagram commemorating the historic win and his past decade in the industry, with a feature from LeBron James naming all his accolades.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of backlash when The Weeknd didn’t receive any Grammy nominations despite his album being one of the biggest of the year. He went as far as to say he would boycott the Grammys and he was supported by a few other artists, including Drake.

However, the BBMAs didn’t snub The Weeknd. He led this year by receiving 16 nominations, and winning 10 awards, including Top Artist. 

Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD were also honoured by the award show with 10 and seven posthumous nominations, respectively.

Audrey Jackson, Pop Smoke’s mother, made a touching speech thanking the BBMAs for honouring her son and his impact on the music industry. Pop Smoke won five of the 10 awards he was nominated for, including Top New Artist and Top Rap Artist.

The evening was also filled with many commendable performances by the nominees, including Bad Bunny, Twenty One Pilots, Alicia Keys, DJ Khaled, Migos, and H.E.R. to name a few. 

BTS also debuted their new song “Butter” at the event, and their evergrowing BTS Army showered the internet with their excitement. “Butter” is one of the few BTS songs in English which is very indicative of their growing popularity outside of Korea.

The event served as a way to generate buzz in the music industry and engage fans in a way that hasn’t been possible for so much of the pandemic. There was also a live audience who were able to enjoy live music performances from their favourite artists. 

This served as a reminder to those attending, and those watching at home, that we are slowly reverting back to normal, and getting that much closer to enjoying concerts and crowds once again.

Here’s to hoping for more safe returns to live events and most importantly, a pandemic-free end of 2021, and 2022!


Gurshabad’s educational background in Biology and Psychology is inspired by her lifelong pursuit to seek and decipher the human connection. She loves McDonald’s fries, long walks on the beach, and telling people how to correctly pronounce her name. She regularly forces her friends to sit in her car & record a podcast aptly named Sitting In The Car. You can find her but more importantly her dog, @gurshabadkang on all platforms.

5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.

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