The 2016 iHeartRadio Music Awards skimped on the unpredictable irreverence that makes any of these second-tier telecasts dedicated to peddling out fan-voted awards worth tuning in to.
What Sunday’s telecast, taped live from the Forum in Inglewood and broadcast on TBS, offered was three hours of innocuous thrills — and, yes, plenty of Taylor Swift.
Naturally Swift stole the night, taking home multiple trophies including the night’s biggest honor, album of the year for her blockbuster pop coming-out, “1989.”
That’s the nature of these sorts of shows, where star power is often substituted for purpose.
Not that Sunday’s show was without luster — Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea and Demi Lovato were among the performers — but Swift continued her streak as awards show centerpiece, and the night’s biggest star never even performed.
Swift was handed the night’s first award, female artist of the year, and was honored by Justin Timberlake, who presented her with the inaugural tour award for her blockbuster “1989 World Tour” in a lengthy tribute that not even Bono and the Edge, presented with the innovator award (a quasi lifetime achievement honor) received.
But it wasn’t all about Swift.
Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato were all part of the iHeartRadio Music Awards at The Forum.(Left - Rich Polk/Getty Images / Center - Jesse Grant/Getty Images / right - Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
JinJoo Lee, left, Joe Jonas, second from right, and Cole Whittle, right, of DNCE perfom “Cake by the Ocean” and “Le Freak” with special guest Nile Rodgers.(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Recording artist Justin Bieber accepts the award for Best Male Artist.(Rich Polk / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turne)
Recording artist and producer Pharrell Williams(Rich Polk / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turne)
Iggy Azalea performs “Team” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Sunday at the Forum.(Chris Pizzello / Invision )
Recording artist Zayn Malik performs.(Rich Polk / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turne)
Demi Lovato, left, and Brad Paisley perform “Stone Cold.”(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Recording artist Justin Timberlake introduces Taylor Swift.(Jason Kempin / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Taylor Swift accepts the award for best tour.(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Rapper Fetty Wap performs.(Jason Kempin / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Selena Gomez accepts the award for triple threat for her career as a singer, actress and dancer.(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Meagan Goode introduces a performance by Meghan Trainor.(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Meghan Trainor performs.(Jason Kempin / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Meghan Trainor poses with her backup dancers backstage.(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Justin Bieber performs “Love Yourself” and “Company.”(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)
Recording artist Jason Derulo strikes an angular pose.(Jason Kempin / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Demi Lovato arrives at the Forum.(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)
Julianne Hough, left, and Derek Hough, Taylor Swift and Chris Brown.(Left - Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press / Center - Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner / Right - Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Wiz Khalifa, Cheryl Burke, Diplo and Meagan Goode.(Left - Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP; 2nd left - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; 2nd right - Frederick M. Brown/Getty Image; right - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
Actress Keke Palmer takes a selfie with TV personality Mario Lopez.(Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Cody Simpson, Jhene Aiko, Chris Daughtry and Bethany Mota.(Left - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner; 2nd left - Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; 2nd right and right - Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Musician Pete Wentz(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Iggy Azalea, Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo and Big Sean.(Left, 2nd left and right - Richard Shotwell/Invision/Associated Press; 2nd left - Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
Bieber opened the show with a medley of tunes from his comeback album, “Purpose,” and like Swift he went home with multiple awards, including male artist of the year, fan army and dance song of the year for his Skrillex and Diplo collaboration, “Where Are You Now.”
Former One Directioner Zayn made his debut performance on an awards show with a solid showing from his breakout post-1D solo album, “Mind of Mine,” which recently debuted at No. 1.
Rising rap star Fetty Wap was named best new artist, which felt odd after his rocky performance, in which he was grossly out of sync with the track he was lip-syncing to as he fumbled with pulling his microphone out of his sweatshirt.
Lovato and country star Brad Paisley teamed up for a surprise collaboration of her single “Stone Cold,” and Nile Rodger’s reprised Chic’s “Le Freak” during DNCE’s performance of “Cake by the Ocean”
One of the night’s best performances came courtesy of Chris Brown, who delivered a rousing four-song medley of tunes from his latest album. It was a highlight even if his acceptance speech for R&B artist of the year award did little to soften his oft-troubled image.
“I tend to not have a filter sometimes, and I go off on a lot of people,” Brown told the audience. “But the music stays the same direction, positive.”
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