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Billboard Music Awards host Nick Jonas says he and the producers have turned the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to create a unique awards show.
“Because of some of the obstacles that are just naturally there because of COVID and other things, we’ve had to think outside the box and we view this as an opportunity to bring a really unique show to the table,” the actor, singer and The Voice coach told The Hollywood Reporter of Sunday’s ceremony. “We’re working closely with the production, the design team, the producers to build a show that feels really different, feels special, that we can look back on in 10 years and go, ‘Wow what an amazing moment in time that was.’”
Jonas added that the BBMA show also will feature 500-600 people in the audience — which, it should be noted, is seemingly one of the largest audiences for a Hollywood awards show amid the pandemic thus far that features regular folks (the Golden Globes audience was filled with healthcare workers, while the Grammys and Oscars kept invitations to industry folks). But Jonas said that NBC and the producers at Dick Clark Productions are taking every precaution to ensure safety. He added that it’s a welcome return to things starting to feel “normal” again.
“I think as performers, we thrive on the interaction with the crowd and not having that for a year and a half has been tough,” he said. (Earlier this week, the Jonas Brothers announced that they are going on tour starting in August with Kelsea Ballerini. “We are just thrilled to be back at a spot where it feels like things are coming back to normal and to get to celebrate that with our fans,” he said. “We know that our reality here in the U.S. is very different than in other parts of the world and are continuing to do all we can to support the areas with a major COVID crisis.”)
For his part, Jonas said he’s been involved with the BBMAs over the years as a presenter, performer and nominee and it took about “two seconds” for him to say yes after he was asked to host. “I’ve always loved this show because it really is just a celebration of a great year in music, and in my opinion it’s artist-centric, which is great,” he said. “I’m just thrilled to be part of a show that is going to be unique because of the COVID part of it all and the precautions and I think that’s going to make it even more special.”
Jonas was hesitant to reveal specifics, but added that everyone involved will be working right up to airtime to put together what he hopes will be a memorable telecast.
“I can’t give away too many surprises,” he said. “This is all about keeping the mystique alive. But we want to bring a great show to the fans, both as a host, the other performers and artists who’ll be there.”
That includes Jonas himself taking the stage with his brothers, Joe and Kevin Jonas — aka the Jonas Brothers — along with Marshmello, who released a single together, “Leave Before You Love Me,” on Thursday.
Other performers will include AJR, Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, BTS, DJ Khaled ft. H.E.R. and Migos, Duran Duran, Glass Animals, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis with Sounds of Blackness featuring Ann Nesby, Karol G, The Weeknd and Twenty One Pilots.
In addition, Pink will perform and receive the ICON Award, Drake will receive the Artist of the Decade Award, and Trae Tha Truth will receive the Change Maker Award.
For his part, Jonas is looking forward to seeing the performers — assuming he has time between his hosting duties.
“I think everyone is looking forward to seeing The Weeknd perform. It’ll be nice to see him on an awards how stage,” Jonas said of the singer, who was snubbed at this year’s Grammys and has said he’ll boycott future Grammy shows until the Recording Academy overhauls what he calls its “corrupt” voting process.
Heading into the show, The Weeknd leads all finalists with 16 nods. The finalists and winners are based on key fan interactions with music, including audio and video streaming, album and digital song sales, radio airplay and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including MRC Data and Next Big Sound.
Fans can vote on select categories, including top social artist and top collaboration, through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 21 at billboardmusicawards.com/vote.
The BBMAs will broadcast live Sunday from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC. The show is produced by Dick Clark Productions, a division of MRC, which is a co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter through a joint venture with Penske Media titled P-MRC. Barry Adelman and Robert Deaton are executive producers.
Presenters scheduled to appear include Cynthia Erivo, Chelsea Handler, Dixie D’Amelio, Gabrielle Union, Henry Golding, Kathryn Hahn, Kelsea Ballerini, Lena Waithe, Leslie Odom, Jr., Lil Rel Howery, Padma Lakshmi, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Swizz Beatz and Tina Knowles-Lawson.