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The Billboard Music Awards 2012 (AKA The Millennial Music Awards Show)

Billboard Music Awards 2012

Young people have always controlled pop culture, but that’s not evident when watching most award shows, which tend to be presided over by the old guard. Not so of the Billboard Music Awards, which aired last night. It was basically a dream concert for Millennials, with live performances by LMFAO to Katy Perry to The Wanted to Carly Rae Jepsen.

Unlike the Grammys, which tries to appeal to a mass audience by creating (often painful) mashups of artists appealing to younger and older generations, the Billboard Awards let young fans rule the day — after all, it’s their favorite acts that rule the charts.

As with so many other music awards shows in the past year, Adele took home the most trophies last night with 12 (is anyone else wondering where she’s stashing all this hardware?!). But the show is keeping up with the ever-changing music scene, not only in how it determines winners, taking into account social media interaction and engagement, but also in terms of the categories it awards, including Top Social Artist, Top Digital Media Artist, and Top Streaming Artist and Song. 

Artists often thank their fans when they win awards, and the same was true at the Billboard Music Awards, but with Millennials, it takes on a new meaning. They consider themselves responsible for their favorite acts’ success, banding together with legions of fans to support them and share their music far and wide. In no case is that more evident than with Justin Bieber, whose online fans made him a worldwide sensation — he gave them credit when he accepted the much-deserved Top Social Artist Award saying, “I want to thank all my fans, because the Internet is where I got my start, and all my fans have helped me get to this position.”

While some award categories feel a little outdated and oddly populated — is there really rock music any more, and if so, how does Mumford & Sons count as a rock artist? — some have never been more relevant, including dance/electronic. We couldn’t agree more with LMFAO, who announced as they accepted the award for Hot 100 Song, “Dance music is back, baby!” EDM is even going to be a category at the Teen Choice Awards this year.

Millennials may be young, but they’re making significant marks on music. Katy Perry (who gave a shout out to her KatyKats) took home the Billboard Spotlight Award for scoring five #1 singles from her “Teenage Dream” album, a feat that only Michael Jackson had achieved before her with “Bad.” Taylor Swift earned the Woman of the Year Award in part for landing her third #1 album in a row, an accomplishment that artists like The Beatles and Rolling Stones have matched. There’s clearly a changing of the guard going on in music, and we’re glad that one awards show has finally recognized and accepted that.