Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Lady A Shine at Billboard Awards
Taylor was one of the evening's big winners, taking home the awards for Top 200 Billboard Artist, Top Country Album and Top Country Artist, for which Jason Aldean, the Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney and Lady Antebellum were also nominated.
"You've give me another reason to love you," said Taylor, who also gave shout outs to Shania Twain and Faith Hill when she accepted the Top 200 Billboard Artist trophy, beating nominees Justin Bieber, Susan Boyle, Eminem and Lady Antebellum.
Although the night was full of glitzy performances, kicking off with Rihanna and Britney Spears singing a red-hot duet of 'S&M,' it was difficult to best the performances by country stars. Keith, dressed in a black t-shirt, jeans, and boots, performed a powerful rendition of 'Long Hot Summer,' while his wife Nicole Kidman smiled proudly from the audience.
Keith was back performing again about halfway through the show, playing a comedic banjo medley -- which even included a brief riff from Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water' -- in a faux battle with the show host Ken Jeong.
The good feelings for country music hit another high note when Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now' was named Top Country Song. Sugarland's 'Stuck Like Glue," Miranda Lambert's 'The House That Built Me," the Band Perry's 'If I Die Young," and Taylor Swift's 'Mine,' rounded out the nominees for the award presented by Tim Allen.
When Lady Antebellum took the stage to accept the award, their remarks were charmingly humble.
"Thank you so much Billboard and country radio for playing our song," said Hillary Scott.
Charles Kelley jumped in to add: "Thank you to all the radio and all you fans out there. You changed our lives, and we thank you so much. We love you."
The cheers from the crowd, especially after the trio performed their romantic song 'Just a Kiss,' showed their affection was returned.
Other show highlights and awards included:
Justin Bieber sitting next to Selena Gomez in the audience and hugging her when it was announced he won Digital Artist of the Year, besting Rihanna, Akon, Eminem and Lady Gaga. He kissed her (likely making thousands of girls jealous) when he won Top New Artist.
Taio Cruz telling the audience how nervous he was when he took the stage to accept the award for Hot 100 Song of the Year. His song 'Dynamite' was selected over songs by Bruno Mars, Eminem featuring Rihanna, Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dog, and Usher featuring Will.I.Am.
The Black Eyed Peas taking turns at the microphone thanking each other, their fans, the families, and their musical teams after they won Top Duo or Group edging out nominees including Lady Antebellum, Linkin Park, Bon Jovi and U2.
Rhianna won Female Artist of the Year, besting Taylor, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Ke$ha, and Lady Gaga. "I just have to say that Justin Bieber giving me my award is so cool," she said after hugging the teen heart throb.