The 2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards celebrated the most played music of the past year while relishing in the opportunity to be together at a live music event again.
Superstar Usher hosted the awards ceremony, saying it was “so sweet to be here with my good friends and family.”
The night’s presenters included stars like French Montana, LL Cool J, Nelly, Ava Max, Robin Thicke, and Joel McHale.
iHeartRadio Music Awards: the night’s top winners
Megan Thee Stallion took home the first award of the night for Best Collaboration for her “Savage Remix” featuring Beyoncé. The song was a huge hit in 2020, playing on radio stations everywhere and keeping everyone busy trying to learn TikTok dances to it during quarantine. Megan Thee Stallion accepted the award thanking god, her fans, and her grandma.
Twenty one pilots won the awards for Alternative Rock Artist of the Year and Alternative Rock Song of the Year for their quarantine single “Level of Concern.” Drummer Josh Dunn said, “This award is for anyone who has been to a show of ours or continues to show support through listening to our music. Thank you for sticking around.”
Taylor Swift’s folklore won the award for Pop Album of the Year. Taylor accepted the award virtually saying “Thank you so much for this award and for honoring an album that I am so proud of.” She said that her collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner have changed her life, and she thanked fans for making the album as big as it was.
The award for Male Artist of the Year went to The Weeknd after his huge year with his album After Hours. The Weeknd also took home the last award of the night with his hit “Blinding Lights” winning Song of the Year. He thanked everyone who was involved in making the song and teased new music, saying that the After Hours are done and the dawn is coming.
Roddy Ricch took home the awards Hip Hop Artist of the Year and Best New Hip Hop Artist after a year full of hits like “The Box,” “High Fashion,” and his feature on DaBaby’s “ROCKSTAR.” Roddy Ricch thanked his mom, son, and team for helping him reach this accomplishment.
Machine Gun Kelly’s Tickets to My Downfall won the award for Alternative Rock Album of the Year. Host Usher thanked MGK for reaching out past the boundaries that are set up for hip-hop artists.
Gabby Barrett and Doja Cat won Best New Artist Awards for Country Artist and Pop Artist, respectively.
Dua Lipa won Female Artist of the Year for the success of her sophomore album Future Nostalgia, which she released right before lockdown in March 2020. Dua Lipa accepted the award virtually thanking her fans for listening, iHeartRadio and all the radio stations that made this possible, her team and record label, and frontline workers.
H.E.R. received the award for R&B Artist of the Year. She thanked iHeartRadio for letting her continue to play and sing in her living room and doing what she loves during quarantine. H.E.R. also thanked her fans for their continued loyalty and support.
You can view the full list of winners here.
iHeartRadio Music Awards: performances that rocked the stage
The iHeartRadio Music Awards kicked off with The Weeknd entering the stage singing “Save Your Tears.” Ariana Grande joined him during the second verse, marking her first performance since her latest album Positions was released in October 2020, and her first appearance since she married Dalton Gomez.
“Save Your Tears” is Ariana Grande and The Weeknd’s first collaboration since their 2014 track “Love Me Harder.” The pair gave a more chill performance than we’re used to from each of them, and they looked like they were having so much fun together. Ariana Grande wowed the audience with her voice, delivering impressive whistle notes that sounded absolutely beautiful.
Best Duo/ Group winners Dan + Shay performed their song “Glad You Exist,” on a stage decorated with pretty imagery of cherry blossom trees.
Silk Sonic sang their hit “Leave the Door Open.” Bruno Mars played the piano in the beginning of the performance, matching Anderson .Paak in their navy blue suits. Hearing the live audience sing along with them was almost surreal after the isolating year we’ve had. After hearing this song live, we cannot wait to see what the duo has in store for their upcoming album!
Doja Cat performed a medley of her hits, kicking off with an instrumental version of “Say So.” her performance was alien themed and she danced on the stage decorated to be an open field. Doja Cat also sang “Streets” and “Kiss Me More” before ascending off the stage into the air at the end of the performance.
Usher gave the last performance of the night, starting off with a pre-recorded set of him singing his top songs in a desert. He then transitioned into a live performance on the iHeartRadio stage, singing “Yeah!” With Lil Jon.
iHeartRadio Music Awards: Elton John Tribute
Chris Martin presented Elton John with the iHeartRadio Icon Award. A video showed Elton’s legacy, highlighting his artistry and advocacy for HIV/ AIDS research. Chris Martin said, “Elton is just one of the sweetest, kindest, most talented, most generous, most groundbreaking, most sexy people of all time and I’m so grateful I got to meet him in this lifetime.”
Lil Nas X introduced a tribute performance by Brandi Carlile, Demi Lovato, and H.E.R. Lil Nas X said, “For me [Elton John] is a trailblazer for others to live their lives freely and unapologetically. He’s inspired me and so many other people by just being himself.”
H.E.R. kicked off the performance on the piano singing “Bennie and the Jets.” Brandi Carlile then sang “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” followed by Demi Lovato performing “I’m Still Standing.” Demi Lovato donned Elton John’s signature oversized, rhinestone glasses, and brought the mic over to Elton to join them in the song.
Elton John’s husband David Furnish was adorably recording the entire thing on his phone. (How sweet🥺)
Elton John accepted the award saying that he was very humbled and thanking his fans for all of their loyalty and love. He gave a special thanks to Lil Nas X, calling him a “wonderful artist.”
The iHeartRadio Music Awards gave music listeners and artists an opportunity to reflect on the amazing music we received last year despite all of the challenges. The awards ceremony signaled toward a joyous year of live performances and great new music.
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