After a five year absence, the Billboard Music Awards returned in full force to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas last night. The awards are largely determined by airplay, sales, and fan engagement, so there’s not a ton of suspense about who the winners will likely be—so the ABC telecast wisely focused on the performances, not the awards, making for a much more engaging show (more like a VMAs than a Grammys).
The best performance, by a long shot, was Beyoncé‘s Millennium Award package. After a black-and-white interview segment in which everyone from Beyoncé’s parents to Barbara Streisand to First Lady Michelle Obama sang her praises, a countdown began (starting from 4, the title of Beyoncé’s new album) and then her meticulously choreographed “Run the World (Girls)” performance began.
Whoever rendered the projected animations deserves her or his own award for the colorful geometric shapes, percussion, polygon-continent globe, and army of projected Beyoncés, all of which interacted with her own dance moves in the first half of the performance. Then she was joined by her (flesh-and-blood) dancer army for a roaring finale.
From that point she dropped the aggression and was all charm. Even the pace at which she walked down the aisle towards the stage where her mother and nephew were to present the award seemed calculated to be appropriately gracious. And she thanked, among many others, her “best friend” Jay-Z and, by name, all four past members of Destiny’s Child.
To be fair, the show was likely constructed around this performance—Beyoncé was on the cover of the Billboard Music Awards print supplement, after all—but nothing in her performance indicated that she knew that the show was hers to steal.