2018 Billboard Awards: things the cameras missed

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards was a great time for everyone involved, especially the audiences at home, in part because for this show, fans essentially choose who they wanted to see take home a trophy with their album sales and social media support.

On top of that, the show itself was just a ton of fun. The performances were a blast to watch — Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera's rendition of "Fall in Line" was particularly mind-blowing (those pipes!), Ariana Grande's post-Manchester anthem "No Tears Left to Cry" moved us to tears, as did Shawn Mendes' collaboration with Khalid and the Parkland choir. John Legend was John Legend, J.Lo and En Vogue were predictably show-stopping, and Kesha and Macklemore's performance of "Good Old Days" was so much fun. Kelly Clarkson was adorable as a first-time awards show host. All in all, there was a lot of talent and humor in the room.

But even more intriguing still was what didn't make it on air. The behind-the-scenes drama and silliness at the Billboard Music Awards this year was next level. Here's everything the cameras didn't catch!

John Legend cut out early

John Legend had a busy night at the Billboard Music Awards, what with his typically smooth and lively performance of "A Good Night" and schmoozing with other A-listers. But he had even more to do than almost anyone at the show, save hostess with the mostess Kelly Clarkson: Legend reportedly had to race back home to get to a cranky Chrissy Teigen, who was home with their 2-year-old daughter, Luna, and their newborn son, Miles.

Teigen jokingly tweeted to Legend from home, "Wow didn't u just have a baby John smh go take care of it !!!!!! disgusting." During Legend's performance, Teigen actually tweeted a video of herself cooking while watching Legend sing on TV, writing, "Hello, it's short rib night, be home by 9." She followed with a tweet of a sassy baby Luna watching a tribute to Miles on TV.

Legend replied with a video of his own in which he told Teigen, "I'm already at the airport. I'll be home for dinner by 8." So there you have it: Legend left the show early to be with his wife and kids for daddy duty (and for the short ribs, which he tweeted about in a video, of course). What a catch!

Shawn Mendes' tear-jerking tune was a last-minute addition

Shawn Mendes' performance of "Youth" with Khalid and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School choir was a heart-wrenching one and didn't leave a dry eye in the house. Despite how well done the rendition was, many would be surprised to learn that it was actually also an 11th hour addition to the show, TMZ reported. The song, a heartfelt ballad about waking up to devastating headlines and staying strong despite feeling hopeless, was released a month after the Parkland shooting that killed 17 and spearheaded a national campaign for stricter gun control laws.

Sources told the site that producers scrambled to put together a tribute after the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that left 10 people dead. (Texas is also award show show host Kelly Clarkson's home state.) Insiders told TMZ that rehearsals of the performance left everyone in tears ahead of the show.

Taylor Swift was recovering from a major shade attack

Taylor Swift walked her first red carpet in two years at the Billboard Music Awards, where she made a surprise appearance and took home the awards for top female artist and top selling album. Despite being honored at the show (and even getting a front row seat,) Swift was majorly dissed just hours before her big comeback.

If you blinked, you may have missed Swift's acoustic cover of "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire in April 2018. The song's co-writer, Allee Willis, made it clear that she wasn't impressed with Swift's take on the pop-soul classic.

Just two days before the Billboard awards, Willis said at a show in Detroit (via TMZ), "I didn't really think she did a horrible job. Yes, I felt it was as lethargic as a drunk turtle dozing under a sunflower after ingesting a bottle of Valium, and I thought it had all the build of a one-story motel, but, I mean, the girl didn't kill anybody … She didn't run over your foot. She just cut a very calm and somewhat boring take of one of the peppiest, happiest, most popular songs in history … I'm honored you'd choose to do my song and that it meant enough to you that you wanted to personalize it to the goddamn 28th night of September, that you wanted to cover it with banjo."

Ouch!

Men won almost everything before the show aired

A slew of trophies were distributed before any cameras started rolling, and most of them went to male artists. Billboard reports that winners of untelevised awards included Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton, and Drake. Kendrick Lamar's slew of awards included top streaming songs artist and top rap album. U2 won top touring artist and top rock tour, and Jay-Z took home the prize for top rap tour. Bruno Mars, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Ozuna, and The Chainsmokers were also big winners. And in case you forgot for one second about that little tune called "Despacito" — it won top selling song and top streaming song for Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber.

Women did take home a few awards, but they were only in female specific categories: Maren Morris for top country female artist, Cardi B for top rap female artist, SZA for top R&B female artist.

There was a mini Fifth Harmony reunion

Fifth Harmony member Normani Kordei appeared at the Billboard Music Awards, where Camila Cabello — who infamously and acrimoniously left the girl group as soon as her contract ended — performed her hit "Havana" and her new single, a Pharrell Williams collaboration called "Sangria Wine." Harmonizers predicted potential shade and drama between the former bandmates, but quite the opposite occurred. 

Audiences saw Kordei applauding for Cabello, and the girls were spotted backstage hugging and posing for a photo together. Fifth Harmony may be on hiatus, but it seems there's still harmony between Kordei and Cabello, despite all their past drama.

Janet Jackson's Icon Award was deeply personal

Janet Jackson received the Billboard Icon Award after what was an incredibly tumultuous few years: She welcomed a son, divorced an allegedly abusive husband in Wissam al Mana (he denied the allegations), watched Justin Timberlake perform the Super Bowl halftime show after throwing her under the bus for her infamous "wardrobe" malfunction years ago, and finally got back to touring after a long hiatus.

She told Billboard ahead of the ceremony that the state of the world was a concern for her and that music would help the world heal — and hinted that her art, as well as being a mother to her son, Eissa, was her saving grace in a difficult time. "I'm anxious. I'm angry. I'm certainly concerned, but … I'm optimistic," she said. "We women artists — and women in general — are saying we will not be controlled, manipulated or abused. We're determined not to fall back to those days of emotional and even physical enslavement. It's a blessing to be alive today and join in the fight for equality among all human beings."

Considering past Billboard Icon Award recipients include Prince, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Lopez, Jackson is in mighty fine company.

It was a Demi Lovato love-fest

It's hard not to love Demi Lovato (for most people, anyway), and she got a lot of admiration at the Billboard Music Awards for her performance of "Fall in Line" with Christina Aguilera. E! News reported that after Lovato and Aguilera's showcase of their powerhouse pipes, the ladies hugged for a long time, after which they helped one another walk down the stairs hand-in-hand in their sky-high heels. Too cute!

Aguilera wasn't the only one to show some love for Lovato. Before introducing Dua Lipa's performance, presenter Hailey Baldwin was spotted blowing the "Confident" singer kisses. Lovato also spent a lot of time at the show apparently becoming a meme because of her resting b***h face (especially during frenemy Taylor Swift's acceptance speech). Let a girl live! Really, some things will just never change … and Lovato's general disdain for Swift is probably one of them.

It took a lot to get Ariana Grande back on a stage

Performing "No Tears Left to Cry" was a huge deal for Ariana Grande — because after the horrific suicide bombing that killed 22 at one of her concerts in Manchester, England in May 2017, the singer almost refused to ever set foot on a stage again.

"I said, 'We need to get a concert and get back out there,'" Grande's manager Scooter Braun told Time. "She looked at me like I was insane. She said, 'I can never sing these songs again. I can't put on these outfits. Don't put me in this position.'"

However, Braun says Grande contacted him the next day to plan the One Love Manchester benefit show to ensure that no one "died in vain." The concert went on to raise more than $13 million for the We Love Manchester emergency fund. "There are so many people who have suffered such loss and pain … The processing part is going to take forever," a crying Grande told Time. She was reluctant to speak too much about the attack, save for the fact that she's still getting through it and suffers from anxiety as a result. "I don't want to give it that much power … The last thing I would ever want is for my fans to see something like that happen and think it won."

Kelly Clarkson had insane stage fright

Kelly Clarkson is no stranger to performing in front of huge crowds: She got her start on American Idol in 2002, then became a Grammy-winning superstar. She was a judge on Duets in 2012, currently serves as a coach on The Voice, and, oh yeah, she performs sold out tours all around the world. All that said, you'd think she wouldn't be nervous before hosting the Billboard Music Awards, right? 

Wrong! She told Billboard that she was most worried about messing up a name and dished to Extra that she had such bad jitters before the show that she wasn't sure if she'd be able to even speak properly. "It will be entertaining somehow. There should be a drinking game of how many times I say 'like' or 'so,'" she joked. "America will be hammered!"

Clarkson had plenty of performers to distract her from her nerves. She admitted that Jennifer Lopez's performance with Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue was her "childhood dream [come] true."