Jason Derulo hosted this year’s iHeartRadio Music Awards, which took place April 3rd at the Forum in Inglewood, California, but the night seemed tailor-made for one Taylor in particular.
Taylor Swift dominated in actual awards, winning three, including “Album of the Year” for her hit record 1989 and “Female Artist of the Year.” The night included a slew of performances from pop artists — including Justin Bieber, Meghan Trainor, Chris Brown, Maroon 5 and the Weeknd — but it was the unusual mix of backup talent and stage props that got the most attention. Here are six moments you don’t want to miss.
Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake Sitting in a Tree
Swift was presented with her Best Tour gong at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Awards by Justin Timberlake, and their mutual admiration seemed to have no bounds. “This extraordinary singer, songwriter and performer has been elevating the place of music in our lives, bringing all types of people together in big and powerful ways as a touring sensation,” Timberlake said. “She has won over 250 awards to date. I don’t know how that’s mathematically possible.”
But he didn’t stop there, adding, “Some people are trying to build walls,” which was a sly reference Donald Trump’s stance on immigration. “We ain’t out here naming no names. That was a political joke. Taylor chooses to knock down walls and invite everyone to be on her squad.” Taylor then thanked Timberlake, her her fans and her boyfriend Adam (a.k.a. Calvin Harris). She then gushed some more via Instagram.
U2 Anoints Pharrell Williams as Rock & Roll Royalty
While the younger generation may have been basking in the spotlight, there was a nod to rock & roll heroes that paved the way for the pop of today. Pharrell Williams presented U2 with the innovator award for “redefining – no, actually, reinventing music and culture for decades.” But Bono didn’t want to bask in the attention for long, deciding to shine praise on Pharrell, saying, “I guess a band still using bass, guitar, and drums all those years after rock & roll was invented doesn’t sound so innovative, but it turns out rock & roll has more to do with spirit than flesh … from where we stand, Pharrell Williams is the essence of rock & roll.”
Demi Lovato Stuns With “Stone Cold”
While her Future Now tourmate Nick Jonas stopped by the American Country Music Awards to play guitar for Kelsea Ballerini, Demi Lovato was helped out by Brad Paisley at the iHeartRadio Awards. The country star offered soulful guitar riffs as the pop star belted out her emotional, heart-wrenching ballad from her 2015 album Confident.
Zayn Makes Live TV Debut With “Like I Would”
The same day the former One Direction singer became the first U.K. male solo artist to top the Billboard 200 with a debut LP, Zayn Malik took to the stage to impress his fans with his first live television performance. His melisma-filled rendition of the dance number “Like I Would” from the album Mind of Mine certainly impressed fans while he basked in a laser light show.
Fetty Wap’s “Again” Includes Dudes Popping Wheelies on Dirt Bikes
Last year’s biggest breakout star, Fetty Wap, easily proved why he deserved his Best New Artist award during the ceremony. He showed up to the Forum on a four-wheeler and performed his single “Again,” one of his many 2015 hits. He also secured the biggest award show seal of approval one can get: a dancing Taylor Swift.
DNCE & Nile Rodgers Mashup “Cake by the Ocean” and “Le Freak”
The Joe Jonas-fronted funk-pop crew of DNCE was joined by disco legend Nile Rodgers at the show. After the quartet blasted through their infectious, catchy single “Cake by the Ocean,” Rodgers joined the band on-stage to perform Chics “Le Freak” before they mashed up the two songs.