What you didn't see on TV at the 2019 Billboard Awards

The 2019 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) were, in every sense of the word, long. What else do you expect from an awards show where there were enough awards for Cardi B to be nominated 21 times? Nonetheless, it was a breath of fresh air. Kelly Clarkson, who hosted the event, has a way of making things easy, breezy and full of humor. We got an Arya Stark shout out from Drake, and a glittering, marching band-themed performance from Taylor Swift (who of course, still had the energy to dance in the crowd literally the entire ceremony). Mariah Carey accepted the Icon Award and belted out some of her biggest hits, and Nick Jonas managed to sneak a kiss to Priyanka Chopra during the Jonas Brothers' reunion performance. Basically, the awards show was everything you could possibly want out of an awards show.

As much as we loved what was happening during the live event, there was a lot more going on in Las Vegas' MGM Garden Arena than what they showed on TV. From Brendon Urie nabbing a key to the city pre-show, to Cardi B's stomach-turning PDA, here's what you didn't see on TV at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards.

Halsey gave BTS friendship bracelets ahead of the ceremony

BTS and Halsey broke YouTube records as they climbed up the Billboard Hot 100 with their collaborative single "Boy With Luv." It looks like the group has formed quite a tight bond despite the slight language barrier. Ahead of their joint BBMAs performance (which included some dapper matching outfits), Halsey cemented their friendship in stone the way every girl who was once an awkward middle schooler knows best — with friendship bracelets.

Halsey's friendship bracelets are a major upgrade from the lanyards we traded in the late nineties and early aughts. According to Billboard, she showed off the bedazzled icing on her Instagram Stories (and clearly forgot to mail ours out because she was too busy getting glam for the show). There was also some serious thought that went behind the gift. The singer reportedly chose a pink and white color scheme to mimic BTS' album art. The boys liked the bracelets so much that they ended up wearing them on the red carpet.

"It's just so they remember me when they go away. When they go back to Korea and I don't get to hang out with them everyday like I do now," Halsey told Radio.com.

As nice as the bracelets are, BTS walked away from the BBMAs with something even nicer. The group took home the award for top social artist for the third year in a row, and the award for top duo/group.

Brendon Urie got the keys to Las Vegas

Panic! at the Disco singer Brendon Urie has high hopes for a living, and it's not without warrant. The dude is a on a total roll. Less than a year after Urie's starring stint in Broadway's Kinky Boots, his band released its highest charting song ever. "High Hopes" shot to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and broke records when it became the longest-leading No. 1 single on the adult pop songs chart this decade — and then Urie brought Taylor Swift into the mix. Their duet "ME!," a glittering ode to being yourself, smashed YouTube records (Swifty basically admitted, "Je ne suis pas calme" over the achievement). Urie (along with his band) also scored the prize for top rock song and top rock album at the Billboard Music Awards.

Ahead of the BBMAs, where Urie performed his duet with Swift in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the Las Vegas native was bestowed a massive honor. According to Paper, the star received the key to his hometown. With the achievement, Urie joins the ranks of Madonna, Elvis Presley, and Britney Spears. Now, if Las Vegas ever actually closed, the key would really mean something.

Taylor Swifts' cats hung out around the red carpet

By now Taylor Swift fans are well acquainted with the star's new cat Benjamin Button. If you're not, check out his adorable little face in the "ME!" video. The singer and certified cat lady (she's literally in the CATS movie) is known for taking her feline children absolutely everywhere, but this time, the singer and her kittens almost made their first ever family red carpet debut.

Swift, who wore a stunning lavender Raisa & Vanessa dress, ended up stopping for a little photo-op while toting her cats to the red carpet. She posted a Twitter snap of the excursion after running into '80s legend Paula Abdul. Yes, even a star like Taylor Swift can fangirl once in a while.

"I'm trying to give them a normal upbringing but when the little ones and I ran into the flawless [Paula Abdul] on the way to red carpet we straight up had to get a pic," she tweeted.

So, there you have it. Olivia Benson, Meredith Grey, and Benjamin Button appear to be adjusting to fame just fine, but in the end, Swifty ended up walking the red carpet alone. Sometimes mama just needs to work without the distraction.

Did Taylor Swift rip off Beychella?

The Billboard Music Awards marked the first live, televised performance of Swift and Urie's brand new single "ME!" — but it was also a homecoming of sorts, and no we're not talking about Beyonce. Well, maybe only a little. The notoriously private singer (private after that whole Tom Hiddleston debacle) hasn't hit the BBMAs stage since 2013, according to Entertainment Tonight. Though the pastel-tinged performance was an undeniably epic, it wasn't exactly well-received among Beyonce fans.

According to Vulture, the performance, which featured an extended drumline sequence, was a little too reminiscent of Beychella to sit well with the Beyhive. Let's not even mention that Homecoming is fresh on our minds because it basically just premiered. Twitter users voiced their criticisms, writing everything from "Sounds about white" to "Taylor Swift just bit [the f--- out of] Beyonce at the Billboard Awards." Others asked, "Where's Kanye when we need him?" — an obvious nod to that time he stole Swift's microphone at the 2009 VMAs to hype up Beyonce's music video. 

All of the criticism begs the question: where were Beyonce fans in 2009 when Taylor was donning a marching band uniform on the Fearless tour? Why are we ignoring "ME!'s" obvious drumline influence in the bridge?

Cardi B and Offset licked each other's faces

Cardi B won big at the BBMAs. The star, who was nominated for a whopping 21 awards, took home six trophies. Not only was she basically the belle of the BBMAs ball, but she seemed to be getting on pretty well with her plus one.

After months of cheating rumors, TMZ reports the pair got back together in the new year — and boy did they get back together. They were literally licking each other's faces on the Billboard Music Awards red carpet. How did we not know Cardi had a tongue ring? Thankfully, the "Bodak Yellow" singer saved us from the gratuitous public displays of affection when the cameras were rolling during her acceptance speech. Instead, she talked up her new Fashion Nova collection, thanked Maroon 5, and made us awww with her new mom glow.

"Well, Maroon 5 ain't here, but I am," she said (via Entertainment Tonight). "I remember when Maroon 5 hit me up to do this song, I was like, 'Bro, I'm five months pregnant, I can't even breathe!' But this record to me was so amazing, I was like, 'Oh, this is going to be a hit!' And now I sing this song to my daughter, because she's the girl that I need!"

Ella Mai didn't end up celebrating her big win

Ella Mai was absolutely beaming at the Billboard Music Awards, and we don't blame her. The "Boo'd Up" singer won top R&B artist before the festivities even really began. It was the first prize given out at the awards show, and Mai would have probably appreciated the opportunity to bow out as soon as possible if she didn't have to stick around to win two more awards. Truth be told, we're not even sure when the star has time to sleep.

Mai admitted she wouldn't be hitting up any after parties following the awards show, even if she has a lot to celebrate. The star's pop-over to the BBMAs (where we swooned over her perfectly placed baby hairs) was meant to be a short reprieve from her busy tour schedule. Mai has a scheduled performance in West Virginia on May 2, and was heading out while the after parties were still kicking.

"I wish I had time to [celebrate], but I leave tonight to go back out on tour," she told backstage reporters (via Billboard).

Madonna was giving out fashion eye patches

Madonna always reinvents herself. Throughout the '80s, the singer heralded trends like wrists full of jelly bracelets, underwear as outerwear, cone bras, and the major fashion faux pas of letting your roots show. There's basically nothing Madonna can't pull off, even a fashion eye patch.

What exactly is a fashion eye patch? It glitters! We're almost positive Madge isn't suffering from a nasty bout of pink eye nor did she decide to get a round of Lasek before filming the music video for "Medellin" (the music video that saw her licking Maluma's toes!). Nonetheless, Madge's new signature has become her bedazzled eye patch — and fans were really not having it.

"What's with Madonna and the eye patch," one Twitter user wrote. "Crazy pirate or something wrong with her eye? I don't know … this is one trend I hope she doesn't start."

Unfortunately, Madge is really pushing this whole eye patch thing on the general public. At the Billboard Music Awards, she rocked the pirate look during her performance with a glittery, X-marks-the-spot on her fashion patch. Behind-the-scenes, she reportedly pawned one off to Billboard reporter Keith Caulfield so he could wear an eye patch during their interview (which is totally what he signed up for when he decided to become a journalist).

Brendon Urie dished on Taylor Swift's new cat

Listen, everyone here already knows Taylor Swift is a total cat lady. Some of us definitely questioned if she'd be the kind of girl to adopt more than two cats (juggling three cats, a super-dreamy British boyfriend, and a massive, multi-platinum career seems kind of excessive). Regardless, the heart wants what it wants, and Swift absolutely fell in love with little Benjamin Button on the set of the "ME!" music video. She just had to have him, and do you blame her? Look at those blue eyes.

Brendon Urie opened up in the Billboard video lounge backstage about the time Swift first laid eyes on Benjamin Button. It was, indeed, love at first sight.

"When I gave him to Taylor, he started purring and never stopped purring," Urie told Billboard. "She said, 'Can I have him?'"

Swift actually managed to capture their meet cute thanks to all the cameras that were around during the video shoot. We don't have to take Urie's word for it, but the moment is just as sweet on video as he described.

The internet protested Imagine Dragons' win

It's about time we cut Imagine Dragons a little slack. When the band was crowned best rock artist at the BBMAs, singer Dan Reynolds pretty much used his entire speech to advocate for the LGBTQ community, and call for a ban against conversion therapy. That's a good thing, except Imagine Dragons happened to win over LGBTQ icons Queen — and Twitter wasn't having it. Did Imagine Dragons write "Bohemian Rhapsody?" We didn't think so.

"What kind of world gives best rock band to [Imagine Dragons] over Queen?" wrote one user. Another chided, "Imagine Dragons won a rock award over Queen, one of the best rock bands of all time." The hate was overwhelming.

In recent years, Imagine Dragons transformed from alt-rock icons into a veritable rock music punching bag. Slipknot's Corey Taylor basically hailed the group as the new Nickelback in an interview. NME dedicated a whole article to deciding — once and for all — who was worse. Imagine Dragons won the crown, but when you think about it, what does that mean for Queen? All Dan Reynolds ever did was post pictures of his kids on Instagram and sing about being radioactive. Leave him (and Britney) alone!

Normani was forced to cancel her performance

In 2018, former Fifth Harmony member Normani stunned at the Billboard Music Awards during a sensual performance with Khalid. It was so impressive that the following year, Becky G told E! News her inspiration was her "homies Khalid and Normani." Unfortunately, Normani didn't get to rock the stage in 2019 like she did in the past. The star's performance was cancelled after Sam Smith was forced to pull the plug in the wake of some serious vocal strain. The pair came as a package deal, and when the whole thing was called off, Normani tweeted her heartbreak.

"Today's news of the performance cancellation truly disappoints me as I know it disappoints you," the star wrote. "I have the most amazing and loyal fans to exist and I absolutely hate to say that I will unfortunately will not be able to move forward with performing at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. I'm heartbroken."

Why, Drake? Why?!

This one is just speculation. We can't say for sure that Drake actually cursed Arya Stark when he gave her a massive shoutout during his acceptance speech at the Billboard Music Awards, but all evidence would point to the fact that he did. Caution: Spoilers ahead (sort of)! 

The Drake curse is somewhat of an enigma — but fans online have definitely noticed. Perhaps it's the very reason Jimmy Brooks was able to walk out of his wheelchair on Degrassi and become one of the world's most famous rappers. You have to trade your soul for that kind of good juju, but what comes up must come down, and the things that come down are basically anything that Drake really loves.

According to Uproxx, Drake has a pretty terrible track record when it comes to supporting a team or athlete, then having them lose their next match. It happened to Serena Williams at the 2015 US Open. It happened to the Kentucky Wildcats in 2013, and the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Finals. Now, we can't possibly expect Stark to hold her own against Cersei with those kind of bad vibes. Sorry to say it, but she doesn't stand a chance against Champagne Papi. Then again, she is "that b***h."