Billboard Music Awards 2014's 15 Best and Worst Moments - Rolling Stone
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Billboard Music Awards 2014’s 15 Best and Worst Moments

From the inane Michael Jackson hologram to Lorde’s goth scorcher

lorde robin thicke billboard awards 2014

Kevin Winter/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP; Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Last night, we were reminded that Billboard throws an annual award show. Mega-sellers like Katy Perry, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus and an apologetic Robin Thicke were all on hand to celebrate their dominance of sales and statistics. Here are the 15 best and worst moments from this gathering of famous people and one famous hologram.

By Caryn Ganz, Jason Newman, James Montgomery, Nick Murray and Christopher R. Weingarten

5 Seconds of Summer billboard awards 2014

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Best Sum 41: 5 Seconds of Summer

We're going to overlook frontman Luke Hemmings' carefully torn Misfits shirt. And the fact that their hit "She Looks So Perfect" features the line "She looks so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear." Aussie pop-punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer is a charming blend of all the pre-emo pseudo-punky bands that charmed us in the early 2000s, from Sum 41 to A Simple Plan. And judging by the squealing teens who knew every word, their June LP will last a lot longer than their teen-movie moniker.

Robin Thicke billboard awards 2014

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Worst Apology: Robin Thicke

Some romantics keep their relationship troubles private. Others blur the line between appropriate and tacky and go on national television to sing a song to their estranged wife. Robin Thicke performed "Get Her Back"  for the first time at the award show, opening the song by saying, "All right, y'all help me get her back." "I gotta get her, go get her, go get her back," he sang in the chorus, adding that he wanted to "treat her right." He ended the song on his knees, pleading, before walking off with a big smile. Look, we want couples to be happy as much as anyone, but the overly personal gesture — alongside Thicke reportedly saving a seat for Patton at the show — appeared as exploitative as it did sincere. 

Katy Perry billboard awards 2014

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Best Balloons: Katy Perry

Katy wasn't in attendance, mind you, but her beamed-in performance of "Birthday" still managed to outshine 90 percent of stuff they shoved on the MGM Grand's stage. Currently on the U.K. leg of her Prismatic tour, KP bounded through an ebullient, chock-full-of-everything take on her latest single. She wore what appeared to be a Keith Haring canvas and, at one point invited a star-struck fan onstage for an actual birthday serenade (all we got her was a gift card). Oh, and for the grand finale, she floated across the arena on a bunch of balloons. All Shakira had was some pyro.

Mark Cuban Billboard Awards 2014

Kevin Winter/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP

Best Awful Joke: Mark Cuban Goes Full Andy Kaufman

Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Cinemas owner Mark Cuban came out and showed why businessmen usually stay behind the scenes. Standing next to fellow Shark Tank personality Kevin O’Leary, he told this whopper of a joke: “We're here to announce our latest investment. We just spent 3.2 billion dollars to buy a hot new company called 'Beat-Downs by Solange'” With the gusto that he delivered it, we’d like to imagine he went into this knowing this was a stinker, and he went out for the sole purpose of making a huge audience groan.

Florida Georgia Line billboard awards 2014

Bryan Steffy/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP

Best Country Blowout: Florida Georgia Line Pillage All the Genre Charts

As country music’s best party starters, Florida Georgia Line made it very clear they’re also watching other things besides the country charts. Their solid performance of "This Is How We Roll" had the dancing girls of hip-hop, the flame-bursting pyrotechnics of hard rock and the punk-rock presence of Luke Bryan showing up to an award show in jeans and a ball cap. Pretty wild for guys with a banjo onstage.

pitbull performs billboard 2014

Kevin Winter/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP

Worst Opening Number: Pitbull Earns a Yellow Card

There's no better way to kick off the 2014 Billboard Music Awards with a song that peaked at Number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nothing can really sum up the show's confusing hodgepodge of popular things than an opening performance from Pitbull (a usually sunglassed pop chameleon), Jennifer Lopez (essentially a reality show judge at this point) and Claudia Leitte (and olá, people on social media in Brazil). Together, they performed the official World Cup song as animated soccer balls flew by. Not exactly testament to charts that deal with things people like the most — because, you know, there's nothing American audiences love more than soccer.

Ariana Grande

Christopher Polk/Billboard Awards 2014/Getty Images for DCP

Best Iggy Pop: Iggy Azalea

Performing with Charli XCX ("Fancy") and Ariana Grande ("Problems") in the first-half hour of last night's show, the Australian MC had great hook singers at her disposal — and in turn contributed to one of the night’s unquestionable highlights, a burst of early energy that culminated with Grande singing solo in platform boots and a chessboard dress. 

Jason DeRulo dancers billboard awards 2014

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Best Backup: Jason Derulo’s Dancers

How do you make Jason Derulo interesting? Record execs have been trying to figure that out for years, but after the Billboard Awards, we think we've finally got the answer: Surround him with a team of triple-jointed backup dancers. They popped, locked, pushed, pulled, humped and even transformed into a human chair during Derulo's medley of "Wiggle" and "Talk Dirty to Me," and without them, we would've been left with little more than four minutes of Snoop cameos and 2 Chainz confounding censors. Needless to say, they had us going "Ham Sammich."

ariana grande billboard awards 2014

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Worst Product Placement: This Phone

The nimrod waving his massive smart phone in Shakira's face from the front row was either the result of irritating product placement or the worst security fail in recent history. Judging by the Samsung Galaxy ad that aired shortly after this ridiculous moment, we're going to bet on the latter. 

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