The inaugural iHeartRadio Music Awards went off without a hitch Thursday night, delivering vibrant performances to the jeans-wearing, beer-sipping crowd at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium. So what were the evening's most memorable moments?
Usher pays tribute, debuts a new Michael Jackson song (audio)
For those not attuned to top 40 radio, the biggest draw of the night was the world premiere of a new Michael Jackson track, Love Never Felt So Good — and unsurprisingly, it stole the show. Usher led a group of neon-clad dancers in a tribute to the King of Pop, grooving and jiving to the song in front of giant screens that showed iconic clips of the late legend, with Usher even busting out a moonwalk near the end of the high-octane performance.
RiRi collects awards, mini buns
Rihanna proved to be the night's big winner, taking home four trophies including artist of the year, song of the year (Stay, with Mikky Ekko), hip-hop/R&B song of the year (Pour it Up), and best fan army (dubbed the "Rihanna Navy"). She also ruled the night when it came to outlandish attire, donning a leather jacket, black lace dress, chunky jewelry, and metallic green lipstick, with her hair tightly wound into a sea of mini buns.
Pitbull takes aim at Don Sterling
After kicking off the night with electric performances of Wild Wild Love and Timber, rapper Pitbull took a jab at Los Angeles Clippers owner Don Sterling in his opening remarks. "Now everyone that's here is a who's who, a what's what, the anybody's of all anybodys — except of course for Donald Sterling," he said. "So, with that said, you can take a picture with whoever you want tonight — even Magic Johnson."
Kendrick kicks it old school
The three-hour event was chock full of showstopping turns from Arcade Fire, Ariana Grande and 30 Seconds to Mars, to name a few. But rapper Kendrick Lamar may have delivered the evening's most inspired performance with his cover of 2pac's California Love, tipping his hat to his West Coast roots and bringing nearly the entire auditorium to its feet.
Pharrell Williams: Man of the hour
In case you'd forgotten just how many hits Pharrell has had this past year, his medley of chart-toppers was there to remind you: Flanked by legions of female dancers in tight, fluorescent outfits, Pharrell performed Blurred Lines, Get Lucky, Happy, and the Miley Cyrus-assisted Come Get It Bae (sans the healing twerk queen, whose dad, Billy Ray, accepted her award for best lyrics for Wrecking Ball). And if pre-taped interviews with Oprah, Beyoncé, Demi Lovato and Jimmy Fallon didn't convince you that the singer/producer deserved his innovator honor, his acceptance speech (in which he thanked God, radio stations, fans, his wife, Helen, and son, Scooter) might've sealed the deal.