Post Malone was the big winner at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, taking home nine prizes including top artists.
Eight of his trophies were delivered in a cart by host Kelly Clarkson, who pushed them towards him “Covid-style”.
“I can’t touch you, so I had to wheel it out,” joked the singer.
The three-hour ceremony, which was originally scheduled for April, was held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. While many artists performed in person, there was no live audience.
Due to the delay, the show mostly celebrated hits from last year, with Lil Nas X taking home four prizes for his hit single Old Town Road.
Many of the winners and performers used the televised ceremony to urge fans to vote in the US presidential election.
Accepting the top song sales artist prize, Lizzo delivered an impassioned speech while wearing a dress emblazoned with the word “vote”.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about suppression, and the voices that refuse to be suppressed,” she said. “Let me tell y’all something. When people try to suppress something, it’s normally because that thing holds power. They’re afraid of your power.
“There’s power in who you are. There’s power in your voice. So whether it’s through music, protest or your right to vote, use your power, use your voice, and refuse to be suppressed.”
Billie Eilish, who picked up three awards, including top female artist and top new artist, was more succinct, saying simply: “Please vote, please wear a mask, please wash your hands and be safe.”
However, broadcaster NBC censored Demi Lovato’s performance of Commander-In-Chief – a new song that takes aim at President Trump. Although she was permitted to play the song in full, a video screen displaying the message “Vote” was edited out of the TV show.
According to TMZ, the network felt the message would be seen as a call to vote against the president, rather than a neutral call to action.
Despite that, the network tweeted a photo of Lovato’s performance in which the “Vote” backdrop dominated the image. Lovato retweeted the picture without comment.
John Legend gave one of the night’s most moving performances, dedicating the song Never Break to his wife Chrissy Teigen, just weeks after the couple lost their unborn baby.
Several other performers used their stage time to send messages of hope – with Alicia Keys playing the empowering ballad Loves Looks Better and country star Luke Combs delivering a heartfelt performance of Better Together.
“I know everybody out there has been through so much this year,” Combs said, accepting the prize for a top country artist.
“I want to thank the crew that is working on this show tonight because they have gone through some insane stuff to make this happen for you guys. I hope everybody’s staying safe at home.”
Elsewhere, BTS performed a slower live band arrangement of their hit single Dynamite from South Korea, before picking up the fan-voted top social artist prize.
Doja Cat gave off vibes of Chicago’s Roxie Hart as she performed a medley of hits – wearing a throwback dress and wig, while combining Bob Fosse choreography with the TikTok dance craze that propelled her single Say So into the charts.
British winners included Harry Styles, who received the Billboard Chart Achievement award; Ellie Goulding, whose single Close To Me was named best electronic song; and Sir Elton John, who won the best rock tour.
Kanye West’s spiritually-charged ninth album Jesus Is King saw him named top gospel artist, while Khalid won five awards, including best R&B album.
Run The Jewels rapper Killer Mike was honored with the first-ever Billboard Change Maker award, recognizing his work in championing community activism and civil rights.
He used his speech to highlight the importance of the arts in promoting social change.
“Kids out there that sing and dance, what you do is worthy,” he said. “You are artists, and your goal should be to express the very reality around you in the very most beautiful or ugliest of ways that you see fit.
“You matter more than you know,” he continued. “The kids plotting, planning, strategizing, on the ground mobilizing, you are needed more than ever. I’m a culmination of all these things.”
Country singer Garth Brooks took home the icon award, while Clarkson paid tribute to rock legend Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer last week.
“Just a few days ago, a true giant was taken from us,” said the singer. “He was a legendary guitarist, an amazing musician, and an incredible songwriter. He will never be forgotten.”
R&B legends En Vogue closed the show with a rousing performance of their anti-racism anthem Free Your Mind.
Malone’s domination of the award categories came after a year in which he scored two multi-platinum singles in the US, Sunflower, and Circles; while his third album, Hollywood’s Bleeding sold three million copies.
The singer-songwriter and rapper, 25, said he was “blown away, just by the love that everybody’s shown to me”.
“We just try our best every day… to reach out to people who might not have anybody to turn to and show everybody that they’re not alone, and music can bring everybody together,” he added.
“It’s absolutely incredible and I just want to say, thank you so very much, ladies and gentlemen. I’m blown away. I’m floored.”