Billboard Music Awards “Uncanceled The Canceled” With Morgan Wallen, Travis Scott, & Tribute To Michael Jackson

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Billboard Music Awards “Uncanceled The Canceled” With Morgan Wallen, Travis Scott, & Tribute To Michael Jackson

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

In the 32-year history of the Billboard Music Awards, I can’t remember any moment when the show had any particular agenda. The BBMAs are an also-ran awards show with no pretenses toward prestige; the show exists entirely to honor the most popular artists in the world, or at least the most popular artists who will show up for the telecast. Last night, though, that changed. Before the show, first-time host and executive producer Diddy said, “One of the things I’m doing directly is un-canceling the canceled. That’s breaking news because people haven’t been about uncanceling. But canceling is a trend that needs to stop.” To that end, Diddy made sure that the show would feature Morgan Wallen and Travis Scott, two huge stars who have suffered self-inflicted career setbacks.

Wallen and Scott are massively different figures with massively different histories, and their circumstances have nothing to do with each other. Wallen remains America’s most popular country star even though some radio stations pulled his music after he was caught on tape shouting a racial slur outside his house. It’s not entirely clear where Travis Scott’s career is right now, but he’s getting back to performing after last year’s Astroworld festival, when 10 people were crushed to death while Scott performed. When Scott was announced for the show, Diddy claimed on Instagram that he had personally made a “request” and a “demand” that Scott would be on the show.

Diddy never said anything directly about “cancel culture” on last night’s show, but as the Washington Post reports, he did say some vague things about “second chances”: “I think that now, because the world is open, sometimes we take things for granted. And so tonight we’re going to celebrate like we got a second chance at life up in here, and we’re going to celebrate a chance to be able to do it better and do it bigger and celebrate each other.”

Wallen gave a pretty standard performance of his hits “Don’t Think Jesus” and “Wasted On You.”

Wallen also won the award for Top Country Male Artist, which was presented by Pusha T. During his acceptance, Wallen thanked the show for inviting him, but he didn’t make any reference to his past transgressions. Instead, he offered up a generically wholesome thank-you speech.

Travis Scott didn’t win any awards, but he gave a flashy, effects-heavy performance of two songs. He did “Mafia,” one of the two singles that he released just before Astroworld. (We’ll probably never hear “Escape Plan,” the other pre-Astroworld single, again. That title is just too on-the-nose.) Scott also performed “Lost Forever,” an unreleased James Blake/Westside Gunn collab that he’s been teasing for nearly a year. (Blake and Westside Gunn did not take part in the performance.)

The show also featured a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, another controversial figure for another vastly different set of reasons. Late in the show, Maxwell came out to cover Jackson’s Thriller deep cut “The Lady In My Life.”

The show also featured performances from relatively benign figures like Megan Thee Stallion, Florence + The Machine, Burna Boy, and Silk Sonic.

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