Billboard Awards: tributes to Prince as Adele scoops five prizes

Stevie Wonder and Madonna perform ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Adele takes the top prize at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, but was unable to attend the ceremony in person. Adele won the big prize, top artist, and accepted via a video segment. Video: Dick Clark Productions


Stevie Wonder and Madonna led tributes to Prince at an emotional Billboard Music Awards, where Adele was named top artist as she continued her domination of the music world.

Wonder was a surprise performer at the show in Las Vegas when he joined Madonna on stage for a rendition of Purple Rain following Prince’s sudden death last month.

The duet came after Madonna, wearing a purple sequinned suit and holding a cane and cross symbols, sang another Prince-penned track, Nothing Compares 2 U.

“Thank you Prince Rogers Nelson for all you have given us,” she said following her performance.

Organisers defended their decision to choose Madonna to honour Prince after an online petition calling for other artists to be involved in the homage attracted more than 8,000 signatures.

The Weeknd hailed Prince as his “inspiration” after he was named the Top Hot 100 Artist, as the Canadian singer became the biggest winner of the night, collecting eight awards.

“I want to dedicate this award to the late, great Prince. Rest in peace,” he said. “I love him so much. I didn’t know him but he was very close to me. He’ll always be an inspiration.”

Adele - who did not attend the ceremony as she continues her world tour - won five awards including Top Artist as she beat Justin Bieber, Drake, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd in the category.

She also won prizes for Top Female Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Selling Song for her single Hello and Top Billboard 200 Album award for 25.

In a pre-recorded video message, the British star said: “This record was quite a mission to make. I had to overcome some boundaries - very small in the scheme of things and in the world - but my own emotional boundaries.”

The world premiere of the music video for Adele’s single, Send My Love (To Your New Lover), was also shown during the ceremony.

Celine Dion broke down in tears as her son presented her with the Icon Award, Billboard’s lifetime achievement honour, after a traumatic start to 2016 for the singer.

She sang Queen’s The Show Must Go On in her first televised performance since her husband, Rene Angelil, and brother, Daniel, died from cancer just days apart in January.

After receiving her award from 15-year-old Rene Charles, Dion said: “I want to be strong for my family and my kids. I didn’t want to cry. They make me so happy.

“Music has been my passion since before I remember. So many people have helped me get here today. Most importantly, my beloved husband, who I know will continue to watch over me from up above.

“Rene - this one’s for you. The show must go on.”

Kesha received a standing ovation for her rendition of Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe after her former producer’s record label had initially refused to approve the performance.

It followed concerns she would refer to her legal dispute with Dr Luke, whom she accused of drugging, sexually abusing and emotionally tormenting her. He vehemently denies the allegations.

US star Demi Lovato made an apparent reference to North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom law” during her performance, as she wore a shirt featuring a symbol combining both male and female toilet signs.

Lovato, who is touring with Nick Jonas, recently cancelled shows in the US state in protest of its law which requires transgender people to use toilets corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.

Britney Spears opened the show at the T-Mobile Arena after receiving the Billboard Millennium Award for “career achievements and influence on the music industry”.

Wearing a red sequinned bra and red knee-length boots, Spears performed a medley of her hits including Womaniser, I’m A Slave 4 U and Toxic. She was only the third person to receive the award after Beyonce in 2011 and Whitney Houston in 2012.

Bieber, who was named Top Male Artist, took to the stage as he sang Company and Sorry from his best selling album Purpose.

The star-studded line-up of artists performing at the ceremony also included Rihanna, Pink, Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.

One Direction - who are on an extended hiatus - were named Top Duo/Group, while David Bowie’s album Blackstar lost out to twenty one pilots’ Blurryface in the Top Rock album category

The Billboard Music Awards are based on album and digital songs sales over the last year, radio airplay, streaming, touring and interactions on social media.