From Jackson to Jennifer, the latest BBMAs were a hit

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First Posted: 5/18/2014

Jennifer Lopez received the Icon Award in addition to opening and closing a Billboard Music Awards show that clocked its highest ratings in 13 years.

The telecast, which aired on ABC and in 166 countries, began with Lopez and rapper Pitbull premiering the official FIFA World Cup anthem. Titled “We Are One,” the duo was joined onstage for the performance by Brazilian star Claudia Leitte.

Lopez later wrapped the show with a performance of “First Love,” a single from her 10th studio album, “A.K.A.,” due out June 17. She then received the aforementioned Icon Award, presented by Ricky Martin and Iggy Azalea.

“For me when I was growing up, it was like Barbra Streisand was an icon, Diana Ross was an icon,” Lopez responded when I asked her how she defines the word “icon.” “They would sing and dance and act and do all of these things. And they had an amazing fashion sense, you know what I mean? You just wanted to be like them.

“It’s hard for me to say that because I’m getting an Icon Award and I don’t think of myself in that way,” she continued. “But at the same time, it’s a tremendous honor. I’m super humbled by it.”

Mike Mahan, president of Dick Clark Productions, feels Lopez is a perfect fit for the award.

“You can’t deny Jennifer’s power as a music artist, as a movie star, as a television star; she’s been so prolific across all platforms,” he said. “Her influence on pop culture is immense.”

Sunday night’s BBMAs, which were watched by an average of 10.5 million people, paid tribute to many needle-movers in the pop culture world. Justin Timberlake was the evening’s big winner, as he took home seven awards, including Top Artist.

“I want to thank everyone on Earth… except Donald Sterling,” Timberlake joked in his acceptance speech, beamed in via satellite as he was in the middle of his 20/20 Experience World Tour. He then simply walked off camera with his award.

Imagine Dragons, who are from Las Vegas where the show took place, took home five awards. Dragons and Lorde led all artists as finalists in 12 categories. Both performed on the telecast, with Lorde accepting two pieces of hardware, including Top New Artist.

Perhaps the most Tweeted about and most talked about moments had nothing to do with a musical performance, or at least one of a human variety. Kendall Jenner set Twitter ablaze when she flubbed up her introduction for pop rock outfit 5 Seconds of Summer. The Australian quartet made their national TV debut on the program.

Then, there was the Michael Jackson performance. Referred to as an “experience,” the production took place on a separate stage set up in the back of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. There, a virtual Jackson, along with both real and generated backup dancers, performed a routine to “Slave to the Rhythm,” off MJ’s latest posthumously released album “Xscape.”

The performance was a collaboration between Dick Clark Productions and the Michael Jackson estate. Billboard has awarded 86 awards to Jackson throughout his career, the most for any artist.

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