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Nicki Minaj kicks off Billboard Awards; Drake early winner

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/22/2017 By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
John Legend arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press John Legend arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Nicki Minaj kicked off the 2017 Billboard Music Awards with an explosive nine-minute performance of her hit songs alongside her mentor Lil Wayne and frequent collaborator David Guetta.

Sam Hunt arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Sam Hunt arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Minaj recently broke Aretha Franklin's record for most songs placed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart by a female artist. The rapper-singer, who was also joined by Jason Derulo at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, performed "No Frauds," her song that was a response to fellow rapper Remy Ma's infamous diss track against Minaj.

DJ Khaled arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press DJ Khaled arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Minaj, sporting all black, was backed by a group of male and female dancers, some of whom were children. Minaj also performed "Light Up My Body," during which she danced seductively on the floor. She also sang "Regret In Your Tears."

Dan Reynolds, from left, Ben McKee, Daniel Platzman and Daniel Wayne Sermon, of Imagine Dragons, arrive at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Dan Reynolds, from left, Ben McKee, Daniel Platzman and Daniel Wayne Sermon, of Imagine Dragons, arrive at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Vanessa Hudgens, who is hosting the show on ABC with Ludacris, imitated Minaj's rap onstage, which earned applause from the crowd. Hudgens also sang some of Celine Dion's "I'm Your Lady" (Dion will perform later in the show).

Machine Gun Kelly arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Machine Gun Kelly arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Drake, who is also slated to perform, walked into the Billboard Awards an early winner, picking up 10 awards in an announcement made Sunday morning. Other early winners included Beyonce, who won five, and twenty one pilots, who won four.

Ludacris, left, and Eudoxie Mbouguiengue arrive at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Ludacris, left, and Eudoxie Mbouguiengue arrive at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The Chainsmokers and Halsey won the first televised award — top collaboration — for "Closer."

Nicole Scherzinger arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Nicole Scherzinger arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

"Honestly we wrote this on the back of a tour bus," said Andrew Taggart, adding that Halsey "made this a hit song."

G-Eazy arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press G-Eazy arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Drake and the Chainsmokers are top contenders with 22 nominations each. The rapper and the electronic dance duo are two of the few top-nominated acts who plan to attend the show. Beyonce, Rihanna, Adele, Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, twenty one pilots and Shawn Mendes will not attend.

Diplo arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Diplo arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Some are on tour, while Beyonce is pregnant with twins. It was unclear if Justin Bieber would attend the show.

Jussie Smollett arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Jussie Smollett arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

All 10 of those acts are nominated for the night's biggest award — top artist. Performers include Miley Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Drake, the Chainsmokers and Cher, who will receive the Icon award.

Olivia Munn arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Olivia Munn arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Some of Drake's early wins included top Billboard 200 artist, top Hot 100 artist, top rap artist, top rap album ("Views") and top R&B song ("One Dance"). Beyonce's wins included top female artist, top touring artist and top R&B album for "Lemonade," the visual project that won a Peabody Award on Saturday at its 76th annual event in New York.

Rita Ora arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Rita Ora arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

The Chainsmokers, named top dance/electronic artist, are nominated twice for top Hot 100 song with "Closer," which spent 12 weeks at No. 1 last year, and the Grammy-winning "Don't Let Me Down," which peaked at No. 3. Other nominees include Drake's "One Dance" (10 weeks at No. 1); Justin Timberlake's Oscar-nominated "Can't Stop the Feeling!" (a week at No. 1); and twenty one pilots' "Heathens," which peaked at No. 2.

Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Nominees for top Billboard 200 album are Beyonce's "Lemonade," Drake's "Views," Rihanna's "Anti," twenty one pilots' "Blurryface" and the Weeknd's "Starboy."

Lea Michele arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Lea Michele arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Imagine Dragons, who will perform during the show, will pay tribute to the late Chris Cornell in words before they hit the stage. Cornell died Thursday after performing with Soundgarden in Detroit.

Halsey arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Halsey arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Others set to perform Sunday include Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, John Legend, Halsey, former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello and Julia Michaels, the singer who has also co-written hit songs for Bieber, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Nick Jonas, Hailee Steinfeld and more.

Kate Beckinsale arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Kate Beckinsale arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

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Vanessa Hudgens arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Vanessa Hudgens arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Online:

Rachel Platten arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Rachel Platten arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

https://www.billboardmusicawards.com/

John Legend arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP): G-Eazy arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

G-Eazy arrives at the Billboard Music Awards at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
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