On Sunday evening, some of the biggest names in the music industry congregated in the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to celebrate the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. It was a night filled with music and honors, certainly, but the 24th annual run of the show will surely go down as one of the most emotional ones yet, with legendary artist Prince’s unexpected passing still weighing heavily on the minds of many of those in attendance.
Hosts Ludacris and Ciara kept the show going as they juggled performances from heavy-hitters like Rihanna, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, and more. One of the most memorable events of the evening took place at the show’s finale when Madonna gave a tearful rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” before being joined onstage by surprise guest Stevie Wonder (both pictured above), who broke “Purple Rain” down a capella-style in a violet-hued homage to their late friend.
Below, seven more of the evening’s most heartwarming moments.
1. Never Enough Brit
Brit Brit fans were up for a treat Sunday night. Hit with her jaw-dropping red carpet arrival from the very beginning, the audience saw more hot looks in her intro medley, which included hits like “Womanizer,” “Toxic,” and “I’m a Slave for You.” Spears was honored with the Billboard Millennium Award, an honor previously bestowed to artists including Beyoncé and Whitney Houston.
2. Pink Is Red Hot
Pink pulled out all the stops for her new single from the Alice Through the Looking Glass soundtrack, “Just Like Fire,” literally taking it to new heights in an acrobatic performance filled with flames.
3. A Love Like This
After giving us major feels earlier in the month with their duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart” on The Voice, the couple took to the awards show stage this time to show off their respective pipes and palpable chemistry.
4. Fearless Performance
Despite her current legal trouble, Kesha delivered a beautiful cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” with a little help from Ben Folds on the piano.
5. Hello from the Other Side
The Top Billboard 200 Album award winner debuted the music video for “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” off of her runaway album, 25. The popular artist was on tour and couldn’t be on hand to accept her award in person, but left pre-taped message to her fans: "This record was quite a mission to make. I had to kind of overcome some boundaries ... my own emotional boundaries. So thank you very, very much," she said. "Have a great night—have a drink on me after at the party, all right?"
6. Hard at Work
The crowd went silent as RiRi treated them to a new track off of her Anti album, “Love on the Brain,” wearing a green stole. The Billboard Chart Achievement Award winner made her appearance amid stops on her current Anti World Tour. "I have to thank, obviously, my fans and also my supporters ... who are inspired by the art I do and make."
7. "The Show Must Go on."
The great performer was reduced to tears when her son René-Charles made a surprise appearance to present her with the Billboard Icon Award, just months after the passing of her late husband and manager, René Angélil. “The show must go on,” she said in her acceptance speech.