Janet Jackson rocked the 2018 Billboard Music Awards with an energetic and powerful performance of her past hits in an epic week that included her 52nd birthday and the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking "janet." album.
In a glittery gold sweater-dress and thigh-high boots, Jackson sang "Nasty," ''If" and "Throb" as audience members such as Ciara and Tyra Banks danced along at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Bruno Mars made a surprise appearance to introduce the singer, who earned the Icon Award on Sunday.
Jackson used her speech to pay tribute to powerful women.
"Women have made it clear that we no longer will be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind," she said onstage as she accepted the honor.
Jackson also thanked God heavily in her speech, ending with: "And I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist."
The audience, which included her mother Katherine Jackson and sister Reebie Jackson, chanted "Janet" loudly while she tried to she give her speech.
An emotional Kelly Clarkson opened the Billboard Awards in tribute to the recent school children and teachers who died in Texas, barely able to speak as she urged the audience and the world to do more to prevent deadly shootings from happening.
Clarkson, who is hosting the show, said she was asked to hold a moment of silence for the 10 victims who died Friday at Santa Fe High School, but chose instead to call for "a moment of action."
Another touching moment during the show came when Shawn Mendes and Khalid were joined onstage by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Show Choir for the song "Youth." In February, 17 people were killed at the school in Parkland, Florida.
Mendes and the choir members wore sweaters that read "Youth," while Khalid's shirt read "Protect Our Guns Children" with "Guns" crossed out.
The mood wasn't all somber at the show, as Ariana Grande and Maren Morris hit the stage with upbeat performances, while Taylor Swift, Sam Hunt and Post Malone won awards.
Swift, who is currently on a sold-out tour, won top female artist and top selling album for "reputation."
She said that before she created "reputation." she "felt really misunderstood by a lot of people."
"Thank you for making me feel understood again," Swift said to her fans.
Luis Fonsi was passionate when he picked up top Hot 100 song for "Despacito," the biggest hit of the last year which also included Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber.
"Thank you, guys, so much for embracing a mostly Spanish song," he said. "This goes out to my Latino brothers, the immigrants ... to all of those when they say 'Speak English,' this goes out to you."
Before presenting the award to Fonsi, the Chainsmokers and Halsey remembered Avicii, the DJ-producer who died last month at age 28. The Chainsmokers also paid tribute to Avicii when the duo won top dance/electronic artist.
"We want to dedicate this award to Avicii," said Andrew Taggart, adding that the Swedish musician "inspired all of us, influenced our music."
"He will be missed," Taggart said. "I hope you found peace."
K-pop group BTS, who earned rousing and screeching applauses from fans each time the camera panned to them, won top social artist.
Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran tied for the most nominations with 15 each. They are up for the night's biggest award — top artist — along with Swift and Drake. Lamar won six awards early Sunday, including top rap artist and top 200 Billboard album for "DAMN," which won him the Pulitzer Prize for music earlier this year.
Swift and Camila Cabello stood up to sing along as Mendes sang and strummed his guitar to "In My Blood"; Normani of Fifth Harmony was fierce as she performed "Love Lies" alongside Khalid; Grande followed Clarkson's emotional words with an energetic performance of "No Tears Left to Cry"; and John Legend's performance ended with a photo of his new baby boy displayed on the large screens at the arena.
Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato showcased a sense of sisterhood when they sang a duet onstage, ending the performance with foreheads touching.
Clarkson, who has become a fan favorite as a judge on "The Voice," told jokes that won over the audience and sang a medley of hit songs, including Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do," Imagine Dragons' "Thunder" and Lamar's "Humble."