Why the iHeartRadio Music Awards needed an Oscars-style snafu

Pop Music Critic

The best thing that can be said about Sunday’s iHeartRadio Music Awards is that nobody called Major Lazer onstage to receive a prize meant for the Chainsmokers.

Or wait — maybe that was the worst?

Now in its fourth year, this annual awards show put on by one of the country’s biggest broadcasters has worked out most of the kinks that can trip up a new production (or even an established one like the Oscars).

So congratulations, iHeartRadio, for properly sorting your envelopes. Maybe the academy was taking notes.


But just because nothing went horribly wrong during this year’s show, broadcast live on TBS from the Forum in Inglewood, didn’t mean that everything went right.

Indeed, a mix-up like last week’s best picture incident at the Academy Awards might’ve been welcome at this deeply forgettable event, which felt only more superfluous for taking place mere days after awards season was supposed to have ended.

Here are five moments that actually did happen at iHeartRadio — but won’t likely be remembered come Tuesday.

1. Katy Perry opened the show with yet another performance of her new single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” which she also sang recently at the Grammy Awards and England’s Brit Awards. This time she did the song from inside a hamster wheel as a group of scrappy child laborers swung oversized hammers in an apparent critique of the infotainment-industrial complex.

Katy Perry performs "Chained to the Rhythm" during the iHeartRadio Music Award.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

2. Accepting the award for song of the year (for his effervescent “Trolls” hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling”), Justin Timberlake provided a more straightforward political moment when he said the song was about inclusion.


“If you are black or you are brown or you are gay or you are lesbian or you are trans — or maybe you’re just a sissy singing boy from Tennessee — anyone that is treating you unkindly, it’s only because they are afraid, or they have been taught to be afraid, of how important you are,” the singer continued. “Because being different means you make the difference.”

3. Miley Cyrus, that reliable awards-show presence, turned up Sunday — but not, I’m sad to report, to sing. Instead, she was at iHeartRadio to introduce a performance by her younger sister, Noah, whose debut single, “Make Me (Cry),” sounds like someone mumbling a Weeknd song in her sleep.

Miley Cyrus introduces a performance by Noah Cyrus and Labrinth at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)

4. Only at the iHeartRadio Music Awards would Thomas Rhett, a second-rate Nashville striver, beat Carrie Underwood and Luke Bryan for country artist of the year. Then again, Rhett actually made it to the show to pick up his trophy, so draw your own conclusion.

Other big winners, if you can call them that, included the Chainsmokers, whose “Closer” was named dance song of the year, and Ed Sheeran, who won best lyrics for writing Bieber’s “Love Yourself.”

5. Like Perry, Bruno Mars performed Sunday after previously hitting the Grammys and the Brits. But here he mixed it up a bit, combining his new single, “That’s What I Like,” with his old “Treasure” for a typically assured demonstration of his broad musical know-how.


By iHeartRadio’s ho-hum standards, the medley went off like a bomb. (It was pretty good.)

Twitter: @mikaelwood


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