"Look before you leap" — or at least "consider your insurance coverage before you include the crowd in an Evel Knievel stunt": These are lessons Miguel might be wishing he'd considered after he collided with some fans in the middle of his Billboard Music Awards performance Sunday night.
Up to the injurious-looking moment, Miguel was in full stride, singing live, doing the splits, and generally showing Justin Bieber what it takes to be an R&B man. But then he hovered expectantly over the front row, looking as if he were considering crowd-surfing, then jumped over spectators' heads and landed on a nearby stage ramp.
Except "over" is perhaps giving him too much credit, as he appeared to connect with at least one or two of the ladies in the pit as he made his landing. Luckily, the poor woman who bore most of the brunt was not injured. "Got caught up in the moment, thank goodness Khyati is okay," a relieved Miguel later tweeted.
But Miguel wasn't the only one to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the Las Vegas kudocast. Apparently responding to some boos as he accepted the fan-voted Milestone Award, Bieber launched into a defensive and slightly bizarre acceptance speech, sounding like he'd just been voted off the show instead of elected a fan favorite.
Among the other performers, Prince got high marks, J.Lo got low ones, and Chris Brown earned a split decision. A few buzzy moments from the three-hour telecast:
* Justin Bieber made it clear that the Billboard Awards should not be a popularity contest, but about art and craft. Or at least that seemed to be the point, kind of, of his second acceptance speech.
"I’m 19 years old. I think I'm doing a pretty good job," Bieber said. "It should really be about the music — should be about the craft that I'm making. This is not a gimmick. I’m an artist, and I should be taken seriously, and all this other bull should not be spoken of."
Say what? The context for Bieber playing defense became a little bit clearer when it became apparent that Bieber was fielding some boos as well as cheers from the arena. "Don't be booin' nobody here," host Tracy Morgan said later. "This ain't 'Showtime at the Apollo'!"
Why at least part of the crowd was down on Justin wasn't exactly clear, but maybe they were suddenly operating under the influence of a certain presenter from Detroit...
* Kid Rock became the hero of the night to some viewers when he boldly declared, "Let’s give it up for people lip-synching under prerecorded music!" — in-between two separate lip-synching performances by Bieber, not to mention amid mostly or entirely pre-recorded numbers by J.Lo, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, and even the dude from A-ha.
* Speaking of which: Perhaps the most shocking moment of the evening came when Chris Brown actually sang live. Not spectaculary well, but still, live. History, in the making! (Take that, Grammys.) His performance seemed like the most subtle yet most blatant salute to Michael Jackson he's ever done — all the way down to having Jackson's This it It guitarist Orianthi playing onstage.
* A scantily- (how else?) -clad Jennifer Lopez slid toward the camera, knees first, with her crotch aimed right at the camera. Perhaps this was her homage to Bruce Springsteen's famous slide toward the lens at his Super Bowl halftime show? Except when Springsteen pulled that move, he wasn't wearing more fabric on his arms than he was on the entire rest of his body.
* Taylor Swift gave everyone a flashback to that time at the MTV Awards when she sang part of her number on the subway on the way to Radio City Music Hall. Her performance of "22" here wasn't quite that elaborate, but it did have her starting out in her dressing room before she made her way through the catacombs to the audience and stage. Swivel chairs and showgirls were both involved. This allowed Morgan to get off one of his better lines at host: "Taylor Swift stepped on my damn corn going through that hallway."
* Madonna did not perform, unless you count being typically imperious as counting as a performance, which maybe it does. She accepted her Top Touring Act award as if she were being given a lifetime achievement honor, and kept it earnest, except when she became the B from Penthouse 23, which was often. Madge complained twice about the microphone falling short of her lofty stature ("They obviously think I'm shorter and I'm not happy about that"), and also about having her rear end censored in the lengthy montage that introduced her: "It took longer to negotiate whether I could show my ass in that trailer than it did to rehearse for my tour."
* Miley Cyrus did not perform, either, but she sure did plug. "My new single 'We Can't Stop' will be out June 3. That’s the reason I’m here tonight," she said while presenting an award, in case any of us were under the mistaken impression that she had showed up just for the love of artistry and craft. Her outfit was a bold attempt at disproving the accepted truism that plaid and lace don't go together.
* News alert: Christina Aguilera has apparently spent her entire time off from "The Voice" on a treadmill. No wonder she was (allegedly) too out of wind to sing live on her duet with Pitbull and the lead cartoon from A-ha.
* Nicki Minaj plopped Lil Wayne into a chair and appeared ready to molest him on live television. The look of terror on his face may not have been entirely feigned. Instead, she simply molested the camera with her ample behind, as Weezy said, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world...All that ass." All's well that ends with no rear-end-induced seizures for Wayne, we suppose.
* The addition of Tracy Morgan as host sounded promising in theory, but somehow, he seemed to be under instructions to make Kevin Hart look edgy. The best he could manage were what sounded like 20-year-old jokes about Vegas mainstays Wayne Newton and Siegfriend & Roy, along with what only seemed like a four-year-old-or-so joke about Taylor Swift: "Do not date these women. They will write a song about your ass. If you forget to open up a car door, 'Car Door' will be the number-one song next month." Ooh, burn!
* Was there music? As in, what oldsters commonly used to consider music? Yes, there was, and it was incongruous as all-get-out. Ed Sheeran, whom we'd assumed was there only as a Friend of Taylor, got to sing an acoustic solo number, "Lego House," candlelit. Country critical favorite Kacey Musgraves performed the melancholy "Merry-Go-Round" with a cello player she somehow managed to sneak past the show's pop-music censors.
* And then, in the final moments of the show, Prince introduced a strange and foreign concept: rock 'n' roll. Slaying on lead guitar with support from his new all-gal backing trio, 3rd Eye Girl, he rocked it out with a medley of "Let's Go Crazy" — in the new slowed-down, bluesy variation he's been doing on his phenomenal current tour — and the new single "FIXURLIFEUP." This performance included what was the first and will almost assuredly be the last fuzz-rock bass solo ever heard on the Billboard Awards, and it was glorious. Plus, so far as we know, Prince's newly lush Afro did not do any injury to the audience.