It’s time to rinse out the big chip bowl that’s been collecting dust on top of your fridge and send out your e-vites; there’s an award show approaching. This Sunday, May 20, is the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) hosted by Kelly Clarkson. Nominees for the 2018 BBMAs cover a broad spectrum, from some of the industry’s top dogs to more commercially known artists that your mom might recognize from the radio. While they don’t offer quite as much prestige as the Grammys, the BBMAs do award winners and honorees based on their Billboard Chart performances, and have provided us with plenty of entertainment since they began in 1990.
Though the award show went dormant from 2007-2010 and underwent a number of network changes due to contract negotiation, the BBMAs always seem to come out on top as one of the most interesting nights of the year. Between the expressive variety of bold outfit choices to the downright embarrassing on-stage mishaps, one thing is always guaranteed: a night full of performances for you to pick apart based on your personal feelings towards the performer, and some objectively good ones that will trend on Twitter for at least 24 hours. Bad lip-syncs, so-so tributes, and massive comebacks from musical icons have graced the Billboard Music Awards stage in the past, and this year is sure to be no different. With a handful of music industry bigwigs scheduled to perform, and Janet Jackson slated to receive the Icon Award, we’re in for a real live-music treat this weekend.
But how are we to judge this year’s performers without honoring those that came before them? Long before Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, some artists raised the BBMA performance bar and it’s time we recognize the trailblazers that made the award show such a highly anticipated concert event. While it’s way more fun to revel in the disappointing acts of the past, we can’t help but praise the artists that truly delivered while the cameras were rolling. Hopefully Sunday’s show will give these performances a run for their money, but for now here are the 10 best Billboard Music Awards performances.