(Billboard) The first annual iHeartRadio Music Awards hit Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium on Thursday, celebrating the year’s biggest pop stars and paying tribute to the musical culture of the City of Angels.
Rihanna — one of the biggest stars actually on hand — took home four awards, more than any other artist. This included the night’s final prize, artist of the year.
“Shout out to all the other people I’ve ever worked with,” she said accepting the award. “I know I’m a pain in the ass but it’s worth it because now we got the biggest award of the night.”
Elsewhere, “Pour It Up” won for hip-hop/R&B song of the year, “Stay” (featuring Mikky Ekko) won song of the year and her fan base, the Rihanna Navy, captured best fan army honours. Pharrell Williams’ night was another to remember. The virtuoso singer/producer/songwriter was first honoured with a lengthy presentation of his iHeartRadio Innovator honours, which included taped testimonials from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Shakira, Usher and others.
After accepting the award, Williams performed a medley of “Come Get It Babe,” “Blurred Lines,” “Get Lucky” and “Happy” alongside a team of backing singers and dancers.
“I never dreamt in a million years, as a producer, that I’d be standing here as an artist,” he beamed.
The show also featured the unveiling of a Michael Jackson track from the forthcoming posthumous unreleased songs compilation ‘Xscape’. Although Justin Timberlake was rumoured to be performing it (after Instagramming its single artwork earlier in the day), it was actually Usher who took the stage to dance. After an introduction from LA Reid, Usher accompanied “Love Never Felt So Good,” which hit iTunes after the show.
Pitbull opened the evening, performing “Wild Wild Love” and “Timber” atop a yacht-styled set. Shortly after, Mr Worldwide accepted best collaboration honours, for his Kesha collab on “Timber.”
Alongside the awards the night also featured a genre-spanning menu of live performers, including Luke Bryan, Bastille, Ariana Grande, Blake Shelton, Thirty Seconds to Mars and Kendrick Lamar. Ed Sheeran and Arcade Fire performances were broadcasted from outside venues. iHeartRadio’s inaugural awards show also looked to brand itself by identifying with Los Angeles’ historic musical scene. Throughout the broadcast, pre-taped segments featured stars like Adam Levine, Jason DeRulo and Pete Wentz recounting their musical memories of the city.