Toronto rapper Drake became the Billboard Music Awards’ biggest winner ever, but it was Quebec chanteuse Céline Dion who stole the show Sunday night with her 20th-anniversary performance of her signature song, My Heart Will Go On.
“It was not supposed to be part of the movie, period,” she told Billboard backstage about My Heart Will Go On. “James Cameron didn’t want to have any song in his movie.” She said being a part of a classic was a “very big, big honour.”
For his part, Drake set the record for most Billboard wins with 13, surpassing the 12 by Adele in 2012. He was nominated for a total of 22 awards. He also performed outside, in the middle of the Bellagio’s famed fountain, alongside fireworks and flames.
Some of Drake’s wins were:
Drake and Beyoncé were among the early winners. He had earned 10 awards in early winners announced Sunday morning and picked up an 11th for top male artist in the first minutes of the show. Beyoncé? earned five in the early winners.
Vanessa Hudgens, host of the show on ABC with Ludacris, imitated Minaj’s rap onstage and earned applause from the crowd. Hudgens also sang some of Dion’s I’m Your Lady.
Another veteran diva, Cher, was feted with the Icon Award. The 71-year-old strutted the stage while performing her hit If I Could Turn Back Time, wearing a black leather get-up with sheer panels, and a matching black curly wig — an outfit reminiscent of the one she wore in her original 1989 music video.
Her sister, Noah Cyrus, noted in the intro that her sister, who is engaged to Liam Hemsworth, was “the happiest she had ever been.” The singer didn’t dance, but performed the acoustic driven slow-burning song in front of giant images of the beach and ocean and ended the song with teary eyes.
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons said in the tribute that Cornell, who also sang lead in the band Audioslave, had “a voice for the ages.”