The 14 best Billboard Music Awards collaborations of all time

Ethan Miller/Billboards2012 /GettyStevie Wonder and Alicia Keys.
  • The Billboard Music Awards have been showcasing performances from the hottest artists since 1990.
  • From Madonna and Stevie Wonder paying tribute to Prince, to Rihanna surprising fans with a remix of “S&M” featuring Britney Spears, unexpected collaborations are a hallmark of the show.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The Billboard Music Awards have been showcasing performances from the hottest artists since 1990, with nominees being selected based on their performance on the Billboard Charts.

The show was halted for a few years following the 2006 show, but returned in 2011 and has been taking place annually since (this year’s will air Wednesday May 1, 2019). The BBMAs pride themselves on bringing viewers buzz-worthy moments, and often do so by bringing artists together for unexpected collaborations.

Here are some of the best collaborations to ever hit the BBMA stage.

Madonna and Stevie Wonder paid tribute to Prince after his death in 2016

Kevin Winter/GettyMadonna and Stevie Wonder.

Madonna teamed up with Stevie Wonder on the BBMA stage to pay tribute to Prince after his death in 2016. Wearing a purple suit with lace detailing in honour of the late superstar, Madonna sang a medley of two of his biggest hits, “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “Purple Rain.” Stevie Wonder played piano, and later joined Madonna at the front of the stage for “Purple Rain.”

Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera debuted their song “Fall In Line” in 2018

NBC / GettyDemi Lovato and Christina Aguilera.

Pop powerhouses Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera joined forces in 2018 for the first live performance of their duet, “Fall In Line.” Both were clad in leather, and showed off their vocal chops by doing what Rolling Stone referred to as “vocal acrobatics.”

Shawn Mendes and Khalid took a stand against gun violence at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards

Jeff Kravitz / GettyShawn Mendes and Khalid.

Shawn Mendes and Khalid performed their powerful collaboration, “Youth,” at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards. They were joined by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Show Choir, who survived a shooting in their Florida high school in February 2018. During the tribute, the students wore sweatshirts emblazoned with the word “YOUTH,” which Mendes and Khalid were selling in order to donate proceeds to March For Our Lives.

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton sang a sweet duet at the 2016 awards

JB Lacroix/Getty ImagesGwen Stefani and Blake Shelton.

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani make up one of the most popular couples in Hollywood, having met on “The Voice.” But when the power couple collaborated together at the 2016 BBMAs, singing their song “Go Ahead And Break My Heart,” fans couldn’t get enough.

Florida Georgia Line performed alongside John Legend in 2017

Ethan Miller / GettyFlorida Georgia Line and John Legend.

Country duo Florida Georgia Line took over the BBMA stage in 2017 with John Legend to sing a medley of their respective hits. The performance opened with Legend crooning “Surefire” alone at a piano. Florida Georgia Line approached the piano as Legend began to play their song, “H.O.L.Y.,” and the three finished out the performance together in front of a dramatic lighting setup.

Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys teamed up in 2012 to perform some of his classic hits

Ethan Miller/Billboards2012 /GettyStevie Wonder and Alicia Keys.

After presenting Stevie Wonder with the Billboard Icon Award, Alicia Keys joined the legendary performer onstage for a performance. The two played piano and sang Wonder’s hits “Higher Ground” and “Overjoyed.”

Camila Cabello and Pharrell Williams brought “Sangria Wine” to the show in 2018

Ethan Miller/GettyCamila Cabello and Pharrell Williams.

At the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, Camila Cabello and Pharrell Williams performed their sultry duet “Sangria Wine.” Williams and Cabello performed atop faux hills made of what looked like confetti, with Williams in a colourful outfit and Cabello dressed in all black. Towards the end of the performance, Williams stepped offstage and Cabello finished out the set with a solo performance of “Havana.”

Alicia Keys, Angie Stone, and Eve performed together in 2001

Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect/Getty ImagesAlicia Keys, Angie Stone, and Eve.

The 2001 BBMAs featured a powerhouse performance from some of the biggest names in R&B. Angie Stone and Eve joined Alicia Keys onstage to perform Stone’s song “Brotha.” The song appeared on Stone’s album “Mahogany Soul,” which has a remix featuring all three artists.

Keys continued the performance by playing her song “A Woman’s Worth” while accompanying herself on piano.

Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX, and Ariana Grande performed a mashup of their songs in 2014

Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesIggy Azalea and Ariana Grande.

In 2014, Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, and Iggy Azalea took to the BBMA stage to perform a medley of their respective hits -“Fancy” and “Problem.” At the time, Grande was just on the cusp of megastardom, and was even referred to as an “up-and-comer” by The Hollywood Reporter.She took the stage following Charli XCX to perform “Problem” with Azalea, dressed in a mod black-and-white dress from the song’s music video.

Kelly Clarkson, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue closed out the 2018 show with an epic performance

Kevin Mazur / GettyKelly Clarkson, Salt-N-Pepa, and En Vogue.

Kelly Clarkson hosted the Billboard Music Awards in 2018, and is slated to host again at this year’s show, which will air Wednesday May 1, 2019. At the end of last year’s awards, legendary rap duo Salt-N-Pepa closed out the night with a performance of some of their biggest hits. Salt-N-Pepa were joined by En Vogue for a rendition of “Whatta Man,” during which Clarkson also made a cameo onstage.

In 2011, Rihanna surprised fans with a remix of “S&M” featuring Britney Spears

Ethan Miller / GettyRihanna and Britney Spears.

Rihanna’s song, “S&M” was re-released as a remix featuring Britney Spears just weeks after Rihanna took to Twitter to ask fans who they most wanted to see her collaborate with. The two performed the high-energy remix on the BBMA stage, marking their first (and only!) televised performance of the track to date.

Macklemore and Kesha teamed up to perform their song “Good Old Days” in 2018

Ethan Miller / GettyMacklemore and Kesha.

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards were held inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, but Kesha and Macklemore’s performance was held outside of the nearby T-Mobile arena. They performed “Good Old Days,” a track off of Macklemore’s “Gemini” album. The collaboration came to be after Macklemore “talked her into” joining him in the studio. After the performance, the two ended up touring together during summer 2018, bringing good vibes and their respective discographies to 30 cities across North America.

Jordin Sparks and John Legend paid tribute to late singer Whitney Houston in 2012

In an emotional performance, Sparks and Legend paid tribute to singer Whitney Houston at the 2012 BBMAs, shortly after her death that previous February.

Legend sang Houston’s ballad “The Greatest Love of All,” while Sparks, who performed with Houston in the film “Sparkle,” did her own rendition of what is perhaps Houston’s most famous song, “I Will Always Love You.”

Though many artists have performed “I Will Always Love You,”Sparks said that was her first time singing the hit publicly.

“I’ve actually never performed this song before ever,” she told MTV News at the time. “It’s one of the songs I’ve always been like, ‘Leave that alone,’ so it’s nerve-racking for me. It’s a lot of pressure I’m putting on myself because I want to do it amazingly, but at the same time, whatever happens, I just want to be able to speak through the music.”

Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj did a mash-up featuring two huge hits in 2011

Ethan Miller/Getty Images for ABCBritney Spears and Nicki Minaj.

At the 2011 BBMAs, Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj joined forces to do a mash-up performance of Minaj’s “Super Bass” and Spears’ “‘Til The World Ends,” both huge chart toppers at the time.

Minaj and Spears high-fived as they performed alongside each other, and delighted fans of both artists with the upbeat performance.

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