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Drake sets new record at Billboard Music Awards with 12 wins

Drake accepts Top Artist onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Mother’s Day is in a couple weeks, but Drake gave his mom an early gift with a heartfelt speech at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, where the rap star also broke Taylor Swift’s record for most wins.

Drake turned up the love for his mom when he picked up top artist, besting Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Travis Scott. He won 12 awards Wednesday in Las Vegas, making his career total 27 (Swift has 23 wins), and making him the artist with most BMA wins ever.

He looked up to the ceiling as he held the trophy, then saying: “I just want to thank my mom for her relentless effort in my life.”

“I want to thank my mom for all the times you drove me to piano. All the times you drove me to basketball and hockey, that clearly didn’t work out. All the times you drove me to ‘Degrassi.’ No matter how long it took me to figure out what I wanted to do, you were always there to give me a ride, and now we’re on one hell of ride,” Drake said.

Drake, who walked into MGM Grand Garden Arena with 17 nominations, also won top male artist and Billboard 200 album for “Scorpion.”

“Shout-out to Arya Stark for putting in that work last week,” he said of the “Game of Thrones” star who shined in last week’s episode.

BTS perform “Boy With Luv” at the Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. | Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
BTS perform “Boy With Luv” at the Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. | Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Cardi B followed Drake for most wins of the night, including Top Rap Female Artist, Top Hot 100 Song, Top Selling Song, Top Radio Song, Top Collaboration and Top Rap Song. Her “Girls Like You” collaborators, Maroon 5, took home four awards including Top Hot 100 Song, Top Selling Song, Top Radio Song, and Top Collaboration.

BTS was also having a major night. At the Billboard Awards and American Music Awards, the K-pop band had only previously won “social” awards based off their fanatic fan base, but on Wednesday BTS picked up top duo/group, besting Grammy-winning groups like Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons and Dan + Shay.

“I still can’t believe we’re here on this stage with so many great artists,” RM said as fans screamed loudly. “We’re still the same boys from six years ago, we still have the same dreams … we still have the same thoughts. Let us keep dreaming.”

Cardi B accepts Top Hot 100 Song for “Girls Like You” (Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B) onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Cardi B accepts Top Hot 100 Song for “Girls Like You” (Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B) onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Imagine Dragons did pick up top rock artist, and band leader Dan Reynolds used his speech to highlight the dangers of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. He earned rousing applause. Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard followed suit, telling the audience after winning top country song: “In the spirt of so much truth being spoken tonight by so many talented artists, I think we should speak some truth.”

“As artists we all get to experience so many unbelievable things, but in our opinion, at the end of the day, it’s all for nothing if you’re not using your platform for better … to spread love, to help those in needs, to be a light to your community,” he said.

The show was a family affair: Ciara’s husband, NFL player Russell Wilson, and young son danced along while she worked the stage, and Nick and Joe Jonas gave kisses to Priyanka Chopra and Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame when they sang in the audience before hitting the stage.

Mariah Carey’s twins cheered her on as she sang a medley of her hits and accepted the Icon award. She was in diva form before taking the award from Jennifer Hudson, throwing her napkin on the floor after dabbing her face with it.

“Icon? I really don’t think of myself that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself and I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing,” she said. “Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career … I guess I always felt like an outsider, someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, and I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed at anything at all in this world. But, and this is the truth, I did believe because I had to. The truth is I dedicated my life to my music — my saving grace — and to my fans.”

Cardi B, the night’s top nominee with 21, locked lips with husband Offset on the red carpet and the couple sat closely inside the venue. She will compete for top artist along with Drake, Scott, Malone and Ariana Grande.

“I remember when I first hit the Billboard (chart) at No. 85 with ‘Bodak Yellow’ — I celebrated that the same way I celebrated all my No. 1s on the Hot 100,” she said after winning the top rap song honor for “I Like It.”

Taylor Swift kicked off the show when she brought her new music video to life with a colorful, eye-popping performance of her song “ME!” She was backed by dancers wearing bright, pastel colors and her featured guest — Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco — descended from the ceiling holding an umbrella

A marching band kicked off Swift’s performance — like most of the world, maybe Swift was inspired by Beyonce’s new Coachella film? Dancers also spun in the air holding umbrellas.

Kelly Clarkson hosted the show for a second time — and sang a medley of hits following Swift’s performance, from Cardi B’s “I Like It” to “Boo’d Up” by Ella Mai, who won the first award of the evening, top R&B artist.

Madonna, with Maluma (background) is accompanied by augmented reality technology “pals” during her performance Wednesday night at the Billboard Music Awards. | Courtesy BMA
Madonna, with Maluma (background) is accompanied by augmented reality technology “pals” during her performance Wednesday night at the Billboard Music Awards. | Courtesy BMA

Madonna’s breathtaking performance with Maluma of their new song “Medellin,” with augmented reality technology.

ICON Award recipient Mariah Carey, showed off her pipes in a medley of her greatest hits, including “A No No,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions,” “We Belong Together,” and “Hero.”

Host Kelly Clarkson took the stage later in the night again, to sing her latest song “Broken and Beautiful” from the new family movie “Ugly Dolls.”

Grammy-winning Christian artist Lauren Daigle had one of the night’s best performances when she sang “You Say,” giving the audience a calm, yet strong and powerful performance. She was backed by three awesome background singers and a pianist.

A list of winners in the top categories at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, held Wednesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

— Top Hot 100 song: “Girls Like You,” Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B

— Top Billboard 200 album: Drake, “Scorpion”

— Top artist: Drake

— Top new artist: Juice WRLD

— Top female artist: Ariana Grande

— Top male artist: Drake

— Top streaming songs artist: Drake

— Top song sales artist: Drake

— Top radio songs artist: Drake

— Top duo/group: BTS

— Top R&B artist: Ella Mai

— Top rap artist: Drake

— Top country artist: Luke Combs

— Top rock artist: Imagine Dragons

— Top Latin artist: Ozuna

— Top dance/electronic artist: The Chainsmokers

— Top Christian artist: Lauren Daigle

— Top gospel artist: Tasha Cobbs Leonard

— Top social artist: BTS

— Top touring artist: Ed Sheeran

— Chart achievement award: Ariana Grande

— Icon award: Mariah Carey

MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer