Ed Sheeran and Kendrick Lamar dominate Billboard awards
Kelly Clarkson calls for action on gun control after refusing to lead minute’s silence
Ed Sheeran performing in the Phoenix Park last week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Sheeran triumphed in some of the most prestigious categories including top artist and top male artist, while Lamar won three rap award categories – rap artist, male rap artist and rap album – plus two song streaming awards after the huge success of his single Humble.
Unlike the Grammy or Brit awards, which are voted for by other musicians and industry figures, the Billboard awards are based on popularity: the wins and nominations are determined on a number of measures, including sales, airplay, and social media interaction.
Taylor Swift won two big awards: top female artist, and top-selling album for Reputation. Imagine Dragons picked up four awards, while dance duo the Chainsmokers scored three. They dedicated their top dance/electronic act award to fellow nominee Avicii, the Swedish EDM producer and DJ who died earlier this year.
“He is someone who made us believe that this is something we could do with our lives,” Drew Taggart said. “Inspired all of us. Influenced our music and influenced pop music in general. He will be missed and I hope he’s found peace.”
The pair led a separate tribute to him with their guest vocalist Halsey, who said: “It’s a reminder to all of us to be there and support and love our friends and family members who may be struggling with mental illness.”
Another notable speech came from Janet Jackson, who alluded to the #MeToo movement as she accepted her Icon award: “I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when at long last women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated, or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart or mind.”
Presenter Kelly Clarkson, who opened the show with a medley of cover versions, said in her opening monologue that the organisers had asked her to lead a minute of silence in memory of the 10 people killed in the Santa Fe high school shooting on Friday, but she refused.
“Once again, y’all, we’re grieving for more kids that have died for just no reason at all,” she said. “I’m so sick of moments of silence! It’s not working! So why don’t we not do a moment of silence, why don’t we do a moment of action, a moment of change.” Teen pop-R&B star Khalid, who won the top new artist award, performed with Shawn Mendes and the choir from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a shooting in February.