Kelly Clarkson somberly opened this year's show with an emotional call to action in response to the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on Friday. The 36-year-old singer fought back tears from the first moment of her powerful speech, where she rejected the idea of having a moment of silence in favor of calling for a "moment of action [and] a moment of change."
The tragic shooting, which is believed to have been committed by a 17-year-old student who attended the high school, claimed the lives of 10 people, eight children and two adult teachers, and left 13 others wounded.
"Mommies and daddies should be able to send their kids to school, to church, to movie theaters, to clubs. You should be able to live your life without that kind of fear," Clarkson said "We need to do better. Because we're failing our children, we're failing our communities and we're failing their families. I have four children; I cannot imagine getting that phone call or that knock on the door."
The appearance marked Grande's first televised performance since her split from longtime boyfriend Mac Miller earlier this month, and it's clear the singer hasn't let it affect her stage presence. Grande didn't miss a beat during the stylish number, which was a beautiful live recreation of the song's psychedelic music video.
3. Kelly Clarkson Proves Why She's the Best Choice to Host
When Clarkson took the stage for her opening monologue, the singer showed exactly why she was the best possible choice to host: her effortless enthusiasm and genuine appreciation for her fellow artists.
After saying she was going to keep things "simple" as the evening's host, Clarkson immediately kicked into an over-the-top medley of some of the nominated artist's biggest hits, including Maren Morris' "My Church," Sam Smith's "Too Good at Goodbyes," and Kendrick Lamar's "Humble."
Kelly Clarkson Makes Tearful Plea for Gun Control During 2018 Billboard Music Awards
Clarkson continued with her cover of Imagine Dragons "Thunder" and Khalid's "Young Dumb & Broke" -- which Khalid himself couldn’t help but dance to in the audience -- and then performed Cardi B's verse from Bruno Mars' "Finesse" as well as Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," Shawn Mendes' "Nothing Holding Me Back" and Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do."
As the explosive, acrobat-filed display of extravagance came to a close, Clarkson jokingly reiterated that she planned on "keeping it simple."
"His passing was a great loss for the music world, and for us," Pall shared, somberly. "He was an artist who inspired so many and in so many ways. And, simply put, he meant so much to us and everyone in the EDM community."
"Everyone who worked with him would agree that he was such a joy," Halsey added. "And it makes this tragedy all the more painful."
Not long after paying tribute to the late artist, The Chainsmokers took home the award for Top Dance/Electronic Artist, and Pall dedicated the Golden Microphone to Avicii and addressed the artist's influence on EDM and pop.
Rocking matching black leather trench coats, the amazing number seemed to be set in a dystopian police state, with back-up dancers in fascist-like black uniforms and militaristic helmets. It gave the whole thing an emotional Handmaid's Tale/1984 vibe that really added some emotional weight to the defiant, feminist messages and themes of the powerful song.
RM, J-Hope, Jin, Jimin, Jungkook, Suga and V slayed the flawless performance with their signature intricate stage presence and complex dance moves that put most of the night's other live numbers to shame.
Before their acclaimed performance, the bandmates also took home the award for Top Social Artist for the second year in a row, after becoming the first Korean artists to ever take home a Billboard Music Award in 2017.
The two stars were joined by the choir of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed and 17 others injured in a mass shooting that left the nation devastated.
Janet Jackson Receives Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards
While her musical presence drew a standing ovation, Jackson really blew people away with her powerful acceptance speech in which she said Americans are living "in a glorious moment in history."
"It's a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused," Jackson said. "I stand with those women, and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us. This is also a moment when your public discourse is loud and harsh."