Travis Scott and Morgan Wallen made a comeback to the Billboard Music Awards stage on Sunday, while Mary J. Blige was honoured for her musical excellence.
American singer Morgan Wallen took the stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2022 just over a year after he was caught on camera using a racial slur and performed his songs Wasted on You and Don’t Think Jesus.
After not receiving any verbal introduction at the event, the country star sat alongside his backing band, opened his performance with the song Don’t Think Jesus, and then played his chart-topping Wasted On You, a single from his popular project Dangerous: The Double Album.
Despite the controversy, Dangerous: The Double Album was one of the biggest commercial hits of last year. The Wasted On You track was officially released as a single in March and has since hit Number One on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and peaked at Number Nine on the Hot 100.
Shortly after his performance, rapper Pusha T presented Wallen with The Top Country Artist Award. “I want to say, Thank God. And thank my fans. I got the best damn fans,” said Wallen. He also thanked Billboard for inviting him. Although, he did not mention the incident from last year, in which he was rebuked by the music industry. “Thank you to my little boy,” he continued. “You inspire me every single day.”
In an internal memo, shared via Billboard, MRC Live and Alternative, which produces the Billboard Music Awards, have explained their decision to book Wallen. As per the memo, they took the decision after internal discussions between MRC and Wallen’s team. And, MRC was reportedly convinced that Wallen had committed to improving himself and learning more, and the 2021 incident was not part of his usual behaviour.
Because of the incident, Wallen largely stayed out of the public eye, though he did make a public apology on Good Morning America last July. But, along with his BBMA appearance, he has been slowly returning to the limelight over the past few months with his new music – including a collaboration with Lil Durk.
Elsewhere, an American rapper, Travis Scott also made his first televised performance since a massive crowd surge killed 10 people and injured thousands at his Astroworld Festival in Huston in November Last year. Scott performed his single Mafia in BBMAs, on a polar-themed set reminiscent of Game of Thrones.
He also performed a brief segment of a new song – from his forthcoming album, Utopia. This new album will follow his third album, 2018’s Astroworld, and the Jackboys compilation from the following year. At the BBMA, Scott was nominated for top dance/electronic song alongside Spanish producer HVME, for the electronic remix of his song Goosebumps.
The rapper has taken a small step back towards the big stage since the Astroworld incident. He offered to pay the funeral costs for the victims and has spoken publicly about the tragedy, which led to the cancellation of several concert appearances and collaboration with Dior.
Although, he has been slowly returning to the limelight. In April, he performed for the first time at the pre-Oscar house party since the Astroworld incident. He has also been tapped to headline Primavera Sound’s São Paulo, Brazil fest in 2022, one day after the first anniversary of the Astroworld tragedy.
The party host and a music legend, Sean “Diddy” Combs gave two ‘cancelled’ artists a big stage to come back at the Billboard Music Awards 2022. “I am uncanceling the cancelled,” Combs said on social media of Scott performing at the BBMAs.
“There will be no cancelling on my watch. Love is about forgiveness… so that was why it was important for me to have Travis Scott perform… I made a request, I made a demand. I said ‘My brother Travis Scott has to perform. I’m executive producing, he has to perform,’ and NBC said ‘yes.’”
Meanwhile, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige received the Icon Award for being an influential music maker. She was presented the award by Janet Jackson and escorted to the stage by Sean “ Diddy” Combs.
After receiving the honour Blige said she was in a “dream right now”. She also spoke about her journey of becoming an icon not being easy throughout her career.
“I’ve been on this journey for a long time, one that didn’t always look the way you see me now,” she said. “One that is filled with a lot of heartache and pain, but God helped me to channel those experiences and emotions in my music which is where I started music.”
With dozens of categories to get through on the night, the biggest winners of the night were Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, and Taylor Swift who won a raft of awards each. The UK was also represented very well at the BBMA – with Glass Animals, Ed Sheeran, and The Rolling Stone scooping top gongs on the night.