The Billboard Music Awards looked a little different this year due to the ongoing global pandemic, but that didn’t stop three-time host Kelly Clarkson from bringing the laughs and performers Post Malone, Alicia Keys, BTS, Brandy, Garth Brooks, John Legend, Sia, Luke Combs and more from bringing the heat even with no audience.
If the electric performances and major wins had you looking for more, Billboard’s got you covered. We were tuned into the virtual press room, where your favorite stars gave their thoughts on taking the socially distanced stage, big wins of the night, politics and more from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California.
Below, find all the moments you didn’t see on TV, from hints about Khalid’s upcoming album and how Swae Lee stays “lit” onstage without fans’ cheers, to Addison Rae’s thoughts on that viral “Dreams” TikTok.
7:55 p.m.: Just minutes before the BBMAs kicked off, Glee’s Jane Lynch hopped into the virtual press room to give TikTok the stamp of approval for the new way to discover music, particularly after a single video recently gave Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” its biggest streaming week ever. “I think some of the best music that was ever written and performed was in the 70s and 80s,” she gushed. “To see all this music coming back that people are appreciating — Fleetwood Mac, wow, what a wonderful thing. Rumours was one of the first albums I ever bought, and I had a Rumours t-shirt.”
8:15 p.m.: Stephen “tWitch” Boss brought his new role as Ellen’s co-executive producer to the BBMAs, where he jokingly revealed he was scouting for potential performers for the daytime talk show. He specifically mentioned BTS and Billie Eilish, who have both appeared on Ellen “a number of times,” but shared that he’s also “always looking for the freshens.”
8:29 p.m.: Pentatonix were all giggles when they entered the virtual press room, hyped off opening the show with Kelly Clarkson and Sheila E. With no audience during their performance of Steve Winwood’s No. 1 Hot 100 smash “Higher Love,” Kirstin Maldonado admitted that “was kind of weird, but it was fun,” before adding, “Kelly and Sheila E’s energy was so amazing that it was so fun to just perform with them.”
8:37 p.m.: Julia Michaels couldn’t help but beam with pride over Demi Lovato’s world premiere performance of her politically-driven “Commander in Chief,” which she co-wrote “in an hour” with the pop star and Justin Tranter. “We cried a little bit, we said what we needed to say and now it’s out in the world.”
8:42 p.m.: Michaels shouted out her fluffy Bicholla dress, which made her feel “like a sexy cotton ball right now, like a really hot Q-tip.”
8:47 p.m.: Fresh off his “Be Like That” performance with Kane Brown and Khalid, Swae Lee gave insight on how to turn up onstage without an audience. “I just think about the fans at home watching, and thinking about what they’re doing in their living rooms and what they’re doing with their friends, and just use my imagination and get them lit in my imagination,” he said.
9:01 p.m.: A plaid suit-clad Luke Combs is smiling cheek-to-cheek and “pumped to be having a huge night” in the virtual press room after winning top country artist, top country male artist and top country album.
9:03 p.m.: Combs recalled the “no-fail situation” when he sang “Beautiful Crazy” to his now-wife for the first time. “I wrote it two days before I played it for her, and I made sure that one of her friends was there while I played it for her so her friend would be like, ‘Aw, so nice’ and everything,” he shared, adding, “Luckily, that worked out and here we are.”
9:06 p.m.: Shockingly, Combs has never met Icon Award recipient Garth Brooks. What would he say to his fellow country superstar if he met him? “I don’t know, if I’m being honest,” Combs bashfully admitted. “I’ve thought about it before, but it just kind of like what do you say? You can’t be weird about how much of a fan you are.”
10:25 p.m.: After winning five BBMAs for top R&B artist, top R&B male artist, top R&B tour, top R&B album and top R&B song, Khalid shared details on his upcoming third album. “To me, it sounds like evolution, definitely,” he revealed. “I feel like I’m really zoning into my sound. It’s just something different for myself. I mean, I love Free Spirit and I love American Teen, but for me, this one is incomparable.”
10:27 p.m.: With a crucial presidential election just around the corner, Khalid said that “having a platform is a blessing.” He added: “I feel like the best thing to do is utilize your platform to the most of its potential. Right now more than ever, it’s so good to be present, to be aware, to be positive, but also to participate and that’s what means the most to me.”
10:28 p.m.: As a massive R&B fan, Khalid swooned over Brandy’s breathtaking medley with Ty Dolla $ign. “Oh my God, she’s so awesome,” he gushed. “For me, Full Moon is hands down one of the best albums in the world, one of my personal favorite albums in the world. ‘Angel in Disguise,’ amazing, ‘Borderline’ her new song is jamming. She’s a great, and you’ve got to pay respect to Brandy.”
10:29 p.m.: On a potential Lizzo collab, Khalid admitted “that would be awesome,” noting that she has “literally one of the best personalities ever. She’s amazing, super nice, super humble and super grateful.
10:40 p.m.: As one of TikTok’s top creators, Addison Rae had lots to say about “Dreams”‘ second life. “There are so many songs that are forever great and iconic songs that have been brought back because of TikTok, and I actually did a TikTok to ‘Dreams’ months ago, and now it’s all of a sudden blowing up,” she shared. “It’s so cool to see, because that’s been one of my favorite songs for probably five years now. I think there’s just so much that people don’t know who are in the younger generation — even myself, music that I just didn’t really listen to or wasn’t into and now TikTok can bring that back and bring a new appreciation for it. I think it’s really cool and powerful.”
10:51 p.m.: Top Christian artist winner Lauren Daigle laughed after confessing that she never thought she’d ever be nominated in the same category as Kanye West and win. “Honestly, we listen to his record all the time, on the bus and just traveling, so to think that we were even in the same category, I was shocked and humbled, honestly,” she said.
10:54 p.m.: Daigle shared that “it’s pretty amazing just to see the shape that Christian music is taking right now.” She also discussed the topic of togetherness and how “Jesus likes unity. Especially when the world is so divided, that’s a center point of what he delights in.” When the star listens to faith-based music, “unity is something that is found in that message.”
11:08 p.m.: En Vogue glowed as they popped into the virtual press room following their iconic “Free Your Mind” BBMAs closer. “It was electric, and it really was a release,” they shared.
11:10 p.m.: If En Vogue took part in a Verzuz battle, they said they’d want to go up against Boyz II Men. “It would be fun because of the male to female energy and we love them. When we’re touring, we often hit certain spots together, so we adore them.
11:14 p.m.: As for new music, the R&B trio shared that while they “haven’t gone through that brainstorming process yet,” they’re “always eager to be in the studio, to record and write songs. Hopefully, once we get past this, we’ll be right back in there.”