By Mesfin Fekadu Associated Press
A hologram of Michael Jackson made its debut Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards, mirroring the late King of Pop’s signature slick dance moves as some members of the audience became emotional.
The hologram performed “Slave to the Rhythm,” a song from Jackson’s new posthumous album “Xscape,” along with a plethora of background dancers, beaming lights and fire blasts.
A federal judge ruled Friday that the Billboard Music Awards could use a hologram of the deceased pop icon, rejecting efforts from tech companies seeking to block the digital performance. Jackson died in 2009.
It was easily the biggest moment at the awards show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Kendall Jenner could take second place for unintentionally creating a big moment during the show. The reality star fumbled over her words — almost pulling a John Travolta — when introducing newcomers 5 Seconds of Summer.
“And now we welcome … One …,” the 21-year-old said, seeming to almost say One Direction, as she put her head down. “Guys, I’m the worst reader.”
Jenner then introduced a video featuring the Australian pop group, who performed their rising hit “She Looks So Perfect.”
Other performers Sunday included Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, who were crowd favorites when they performed “This Is How We Roll.” Even Carrie Underwood and her hockey player-husband Mike Fisher sang along.
Ariana Grande, who turns 21 next month, was semi-racy when she sang her hit “Problem” in a mini black and white dress alongside rapper Iggy Azalea. Grande was nominated for best new artist, but she lost to breakthrough New Zealander Lorde.
Lorde also won top rock song for the ubiquitous hit, “Royals.” The 17-year-old entered the night as the top contender, along with Imagine Dragons, where the Billboard Music Awards marked a homecoming for the band.
The Las Vegas-based rockers won the night’s first trophy, top rock album, for their 2012 debut, “Night Visions.”
“We’ve been a band for five years and we played small bars for many of those years, and we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for people that believed in our band, in our small band that started here in Las Vegas from the very beginning,” leader Dan Reynolds told the audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
He then thanked radio, family and management for their support, adding with a yell at the end: “And Billboard!”
Imagine Dragons was also up for the night’s biggest honor, top artist. The group battled Perry, Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, and Justin Timberlake, who won top Billboard 200 album and accepted in a video as he’s on tour outside of the country. He sang “thank you” along with his band.
Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez kicked off the awards show with a colorful performance of the World Cup anthem, “We Are One (Ole Ola),” where Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte also joined in. Robin Thicke and John Legend, whose song “All of Me” is currently No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, will also perform.
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