The iHeartRadio Music Awards aired on March 14, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The star-studded show boasted musical legends like Steven Tyler and Garth Brooks and newcomers alike, all who were ready to celebrate and recognize the nominated artists’ musical accomplishments.
The night was filled with memorable moments. Current pop-country queen Kacey Musgraves performed her hit « Rainbow » accompanied by Coldplay’s Chris Martin on piano. Taylor Swift and Katy Perry apparently ended their long-running feud with a literal olive branch and a (possible) kiss on the cheek. The Masked Singer‘s Monster returned. Ariana Grande performed « Needy » live for the first time. Drake and BTS were nowhere to be found. (Sorry.)
But we bet you’re wondering what you missed, huh? Don’t be shy, you can tell us. You missed quite a lot, actually. Here are the 5 best and 5 worst things that happened at the 2019 iHeart Radio Awards. We recommend you don’t hit shuffle.
Best: Alicia Keys performing with her son
Songstress Alicia Keys took the stage at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards to perform her new single « Raise A Man, » with the help of her eight-year-old own son, Egypt, commanding the keys (no pun intended). After their performance, Egypt hit the crowd with some flossing. It was such a sweet moment that we’re sure half the audiences left with cavities.
Earlier in the broadcast, Keys accepted the Innovator award from presenter Jamie Foxx, and delivered an impassioned speech about the transformative power of self-acceptance. « I looked inside my heart and realized I am here to do me and we are here to do us, » Keys said (via The Hollywood Reporter). « Sometimes it’s crazy; I know how it feels. All we can think about is how to be liked and how to be accepted. Instead, all we have to do is love who we are, appreciate our individuality and embrace what makes us unique. »
What about her younger son, Genesis? He didn’t have a bad night either. He spent the evening flirting with Taylor Swift. Keys joked while accepting her award (via People), « Actually, my son Genesis is maybe trying to take Taylor out later tonight — he’s working on it not sure how it’s gonna go, but it looks pretty good right now! »
Worst: T-Pain’s Taylor Swift story
T-Pain and Taylor Swift go way back. Watch 2009’s « Thug Story » and thank us for bringing this into your life later. In the meantime, we are going to discuss not necessarily the « worst » moment of the 2019 iHeart Radio Awards, but it might be the night’s most « painfully awkward » moment.
His opening monologue started with the usual host jokes, then T-Pain recalled the time he and the « Bad Blood » singer first met. « Taylor, I never apologized to you. The first time we met — you’re so much taller than me, that I thought you were standing on something, » he began (via ET). « Without looking down, I tried to stand on whatever I thought you were standin’ on and — bam! Headbutted you right in the boob, » he explained. « I’m so sorry. That was not my intention. »
Cut to: Taylor Swift’s reaction. We’ll let 104.1 2Day FM’s Carly Heading sum it up for you. « The comments that T-Pain made are literally the reason that female artists feel comfortable at award shows and stop attending. » We assume she meant « uncomfortable » there, since she followed it with: « Wake up, could he be any more out of touch with the world? Does this look like someone who is enjoying the ‘humor’? » To prove her point, Heading also tweeted a gif of Swift’s seemingly nonplussed reaction.
Best: John Legend’s performance
Mr. EGOT himself, John Legend, blessed the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards stage for a stunning rendition of « Preach. » Joined on stage by backup singers who wore red choir robes and enormous screens projected with stained glass windows, Legend had everyone at the Microsoft Theater on their feet.
« The idea behind the song is that sometimes we can get so frustrated by the news and what’s going on and there’s this scatter going on in ourselves, » Legend said in a statement to Rolling Stone. « Do we become apathetic? Do we become engaged? Do we just talk about it, or do we do something? »
« Don’t forget to tune in to the #iHeartAwards TONIGHT at 8/7c on @FOX ! I’ll be performing my new song #Preach! » Legend tweeted to his fans hours before the broadcast. You should have taken his advice if you didn’t. This will go down as one of the greatest performances in iHeartRadio Music Awards history.
Worst: Where was Cardi B?
Are you legally allowed to have a music awards show in 2019 without Cardi B being there? We didn’t think that was possible. Despite being nominated for Hip-Hop Artist of The Year, the « Money » rapper was a no-show.
However, she did make a cameo during the broadcast in the form of a pre-recorded video message after winning the award to say thanks. Why was she unable to attend? She mentioned that she was « busy doing a couple things » but grateful to her fans and supporters. She even thanked her haters. « I gotta thank my haters cause — you know what I’m sayin’? — because ya’ll be sayin’ means things and ya’ll be thinkin’ those mean things is gonna discourage me, but that just means we go harder, » the rapper said. « If everybody gives me compliments … I get comfortable, » she ended with her famous cackle.
She then licked the trophy and said, « Byyyyyye. » Although we would have much rather seen Cardi B live, she doesn’t disappoint in pre-recorded video message either. « Who saw my iheart acceptance speech, » she tweeted after it aired. We did, Cardi. Hopefully, your schedule is clear next year.
Best: Taylor Swift’s big night
Not only did Taylor Swift win Best Music Video for her hit « Delicate, » she also took home the coveted Tour Of The Year award for her record-breaking Reputation world stadium tour. And what a tour it was, folks. With more 2 million tickets sold in the U.S. and grossing $266 million, it is the highest-selling U.S. tour in history by any artist. The tour also broke Swift’s own record for highest-grossing tour by a woman.
In typical Swift fashion, she shouted out her haters and fans in her emotional acceptance speech. « I think one of the most wonderful things about the way that this whole tour turned out is that for the entire six months leading up to the first show of this tour, every headline that I read about the tour was ‘this is going to be a massive failure, this is going to be a flop tour,' » she said. « It really did wonders for my self-esteem, it was really great to hear people saying that I was gonna be playing to nearly empty stadiums. »
Swift said the critics’ predictions were wrong because they forgot about the « unforeseeable factor involved. » And that was her fans. « I honestly owe everything, everything in my life to you, » she continued. « You guys are the reason why this tour, and the only reason why this tour, wasn’t a massive failure and ended up being the highest-selling tour in US history. »
Worst: Bebe Rexha blew her Backstreet Boys audition
The Backstreet Boys were back at the 2019 iHeart Radio Awards. Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and AJ McLean performed a medley of their new song « No Place » and their biggest hit « I Want It That Way. » The crowd, including Country Song Of The Year winner Bebe Rexha, were all middle schoolers again and rocking out to the nostalgia.
Rexha was probably rocking out the most, because outside Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles before the show; she proved to everyone that she might be the biggest Backstreet Boys fan. Hoping to film herself singing « I Want It That Way » with the guys so she could post it on Instagram, Rexha was too nervous when AJ McLean asked her to « kick it off. » Nick Carter stepped in, and besides a fangirl scream when it was her turn to belt out the lyric « tell me why, » it all seemed to be going well. The dudes were singing backup, and it when it came time for « I never wanna hear you say, » Rexha screamed, « No, I can’t do it! » and tried to walk away because she was having a moment. You blew your spot on 2019 DNA World Tour, Bebe!
But don’t worry, it was all in good fun. « Honestly the nicest dudes ever. Only if young Bebe would of known this was going to happen one day @backstreetboys #iHeartAwards2019, » she tweeted with a clip of the impromptu performance.
Best: That Garth Brooks and Chris Pratt lovefest
More than 148 million albums sold. The first-ever artist awarded seven diamonds albums (10 million sales each). And the #1 selling solo artist in U.S. history. Garth Brooks isn’t just a country music singer, he’s an American icon. His 30+ year career has influenced country music and music itself. He also has a big fan in actor Chris Pratt.
The Guardians of the Galaxy star presented Brooks with the Artist Of The Decade award, and after saying the singer was the « soundtrack to his life, » he told a story about the first time the two met. « I said, ‘Garth, you ever need a lead man to play you in a movie, I can make that happen, » Pratt revealed (via Popsugar). « True story: he looked me square in the eyes, and he said, ‘Really? You know Bradley Cooper?' » Brooks then took the stage to perform a medley of his biggest hits where Pratt joined him to belt out « I’ve Got Friends In Low Places. »
It was clearly a fanboy moment for Pratt. « Welp. I guess I died and gone to heaven. Thank you @garthbrooks and congratulations on the artist of the decade award. It was an honor to sing with you and the band on stage, » Pratt posted on Instagram. « I can’t wait for the upcoming stadium tour. God is so good. Thank you thank you thank you. »
Worst: Katy Perry stayed in character
Katy Perry is always good for an awkward moment or two. Left Shark, anyone? This time, people had some thoughts about her fashion choice for the 2019 iHeart Radio Awards. Wonderwall blasted the outfit, saying, « Katy Perry dressed like our grandma in the ’50s. » Not content with wearing a « strange checkered dress, » Perry’s accessories like « thumb-less black leather gloves for no apparent reason, » made it « even weirder. » They added, « She donned chunky dangling earrings, a bright red lip, and pink eyeshadow in a look that kept us scratching our heads the rest of the night. » Ouch.
As it turns out, Perry was wearing the same dress she wore in her new music video with Zedd, « 365, » where she plays a Stepford Wives-inspired robot. She remained in character on the red carpet. « I am Katy Perry today, but I am an A.I. version of Katy Perry, » she told ET. In response to a question about a possible collab with Taylor Swift (Yes, really.), Perry said, « I’m making music with Zedd. I’m open. Open. Open. Open! » Zedd, who was with her on the carpet, added, « I programmed her to make music with anybody; it’s great. »
« I’m a loveable A.I., » Perry responded. Oh, Katy. You have to love her.
Best: Everything Halsey
Halsey had a great night. She kicked off the show with a performance of her hit single « Without Me, » then was joined on stage by Travis Barker and her boyfriend, Yungblood, for a rendition of « 11 Minutes. » The crowd went wild when Rock Star Halsey was born. Later in the show, Halsey was presented with the L’Oreal Paris FanGirls Award by actress Elle Fanning. Per iHeartRadio, « the prestigious award that is all about women bettering the world to the 24-year-old singer, who is not only a champion for women, but also an advocate for mental health, suicide prevention, sexual assault victims, and the LGBTQ+ community. »
« It seems really fitting that the name of this award would be the fangirl award, » Halsey said in her powerful acceptance speech. « I think that the word fangirl for a long time has been used in a very derogatory since. I think if a young woman likes something then in the eyes of the rest of the world that makes it stupid or it makes it unimportant or invalid, but as a former fangirl and as a person who is lucky enough to have fans of their own, I know that it is very much the opposite actually. »
Halsey then jumped on Twitter to offer another positive message. « Thank you guys so much for this moment. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel stupid for putting your heart into something. Passion is a wonderful thing. @iHeartRadio #LOrealParis, » she wrote.
Worst: Fox took ‘The Middle’ literally
For the last award of the night, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler presented Maren Morris and Zedd with the trophy for Song Of The Year for their hit « The Middle. » The country star and the DJ, along with Kyle and Michael Trewartha of Grey, made their way to the stage to celebrate their win, but Fox had other plans. « Oh my gosh, this is so cool. Thank you so much iHeart, » Morris said before the show’s time ran out and Fox cut to the next scheduled show immediately.
Viewers at home had no idea what just happened. « Did I black out or did they just totally cut off Zedd and Maren Morris’s speech very awkwardly? #iHeartAwards2019, » user @pastyourbedtime tweeted. User @Ding_Gorgeous saw the irony in the situation when she tweeted, It would be cool if @iHeartRadio could do @MarenMorris & @Zedd @greymusic the courtesy of posting the whole speech since y’all cut the speech off RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE. »
While we’re all for award shows ending on time, that was bizarre and awkward way to end.