Billboard Awards Go On Without Britney or Paris

Posted on December 4, 2006

The Billboard Awards took the adage "the show must go on" to heart: tonight's show literally had no hosts at all. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were supposed to host, but both backed out at the last minute, infuriating producers. But Mary J. Blige didn't care. She won big.
An R&B veteran and a young upstart won big Monday night at the 2006 Billboard Music Awards. A 17-year-old lothario, Chris Brown, took home new artist of the year, male of artist of the year and artist of the year awards. Newcomers Rihanna and idol-turned-country star Carrie Underwood also walked away with high honors at the two-hour show aired live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But it was a seasoned artist that took home the most honors. R&B diva Mary J. Blige's comeback album, "The Breakthrough," delivered nine awards to the 35-year-old singer, including R&B/Hip-Hop artist of the year, female R&B artist of the year and R&B/Hip-Hop album of the year.

The album debuted at the top of the Billboard charts in December 2005 and has sold 2.6 million copies since. Blige, in white go-go boots and a sparkly mini-dress, rocked the full house by belting out a medley of her "Enough Crying" and "Take me as I am." It was an 18-year-old from Barbados that edged out Blige and Beyonce for the top songstress honor. "I really can't feel my legs, this is phenomenal," said Rihanna as she accepted the award for best female artist of the year award. "That was a really tough category."

Janet Jackson opened the show with a nod to the old and the new. Sporting a short bob haircut and a belly-baring white turtleneck sweater that offered no chance of wardrobe malfunction, Jackson performed her 1980s classic, "The Pleasure Principle," mixed into "So Excited," a single from her 2006 comeback album, 20 Y.O.

*****

The telecast did not, however, feature Tinseltown's duo du jour - heiress Paris Hilton and mom-gone-wild Britney Spears. After their recent binge of late-night partying, it was reported that the new best friends would be co-hosting the show. But neither appeared and the show went on without a host, a lineup of presenters filling in to move things along.
Paris' rep said that she backed out at the last minute because the script was offensive, because it insulted all of her friends. Britney gave no reason for her departure from the show, but it's really odd. Maybe she was worried the writers couldn't resist throwing in a line about her aversion to wearing underwear. Still, how could a girl that flashes her bits in public four times in one week possibly be embarassed by anything? And as for Paris, well, who knows why she really backed out. Maybe they wouldn't let her sing. That has to be it.