Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson got the night started right with a rousing performance of their duet “Trouble,” which set up well for the next performer: a shackled Nick Jonas performance of “Chains“– fresh from his stint hosting the Kids’ Choice Awards the previous night displaying strong vocals and capturing the stage. Kelly Clarkson impressed with her always-powerful pipes on “Heartbeat Song,” and Rihanna stepped out of a helicopter to deliver a ballsy first-ever live performance of new single “Bitch Better Have My Money,” decked in a lime green coat, boots and glasses.
Jason Derulo danced as he sang “Want You to Want Me,” but Nate Ruess stole the show, whirling around the stage both physically and vocally as he performed his single “Nothing Without Love.” Meghan Trainor was bubbly and upbeat in her live performance of “Dear Future Husband” and Florida Georgia Line transported everyone to an island grove in their performance of “Sun Daze.”
Foxx gave the first live performance of his new single “You Changed Me,” in which he was joined by Chris Brown. Jason Aldean illuminated the stage with pyrotechnics for his performance of “Burnin’ It Down,” and Snoop Dogg brought the show to a close with a performance of new tune “Peaches N Cream” with help from rapper Charlie Wilson.
The standout moment of the night was Taylor Swift’s surprise appearance to provide guitar accompaniment for Madonna’s performance of “Ghosttown,” the new single from Rebel Heart and the awards show’s best performance.
Complete List of Awards:
Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift
Song of the Year: “Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
Best Lyrics: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”
Hip Hop/R&B Song: “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” Jeremih featuring YG
Best New Artist: Sam Smith
Country Song: “Burnin’ It Down,” Jason Aldean
Best Fan Army: Five Seconds of Summer
Best Collaboration: “Bang Bang” (Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J)
Renegade: Brantley Gilbert
Dance Song: “Summer,” Calvin Harris
Alternative Rock Song: “Take Me to Church,” Hozier