Plenty of high notes at Billboard awards show
MADONNA paid tribute to Prince, Kesha earned a standing ovation for her stirring rendition of It Ain't Me, Babe honouring Bob Dylan, and Celine Dion dedicated her Icon award to her late husband at Sunday night's emotion-packed Billboard Music Awards.
The three-hour live telecast from Las Vegas stuck to its tradition of a performance-heavy annual show featuring top recording stars in spectacular production numbers.
Britney Spears kicked things off, dazzling in a daring red outfit for a medley of her hits.
Canadian singer The Weeknd dedicated the first award to Prince, the pop superstar who recently died at his Minnesota home in April aged 57.
"I want to dedicate this award to the late great Prince," The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) said in accepting the Top Hot 100 Artist award.
Madonna closed the show with a Prince tribute that included Nothing Compares 2 U, before she was joined by Stevie Wonder for Purple Rain as the audience rose to its feet.
Earlier, Kesha delivered an emotional rendition of Dylan's classic in a performance that was nearly cancelled by her label in a legal dispute.
While several awards were handed out during the show, including to British singer Adele who won the big prize, top artist and accepted via a video segment, it was performances by the likes of Ariana Grande, Dion and Rihanna that ruled.
Dion, in her first televised singing performance since the death of her husband Rene Angelil, tearfully accepted the Icon Award for lifetime achievement, which in a surprise was presented by her son, Rene-Charles.
"I'm so sorry, I don't want to cry in front of you," Dion told the audience.
Other top prizes went to Rihanna in the fan-voted chart achievement award, Justin Bieber for top male artist, Adele for both top female artist and Billboard 200 album, and The Weeknd for R&B song The Hills.