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2012 Billboard Music Awards: 20 essential takeaways from the show

Like most music awards shows, the Billboard Music Awards are so not about the statuettes that are doled out. The show — which aired live last night on ABC from the MGM Grand Hotel, with hosts, Modern Family stars Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell — is typically more about everything but the awards: performances, tributes, collaborations, and other sundry craziness.

Hell, even the fashion — hello to Miley Cyrus’ barely-there suit jacket — is more important than the prizes! And that was no different this year. Just a handful of the 46 awards were actually given out during the show (LMFAO dominated), which was jolted to life with performances from Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, and Linkin Park; tributes to Robin Gibb, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, and Stevie Wonder; a collaboration between Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys; and a heartfelt speech by Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Here are 20 essential takeaways from the evening:

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CMT Music Award Nominations: Little Big Town must win for 'Fix You' cover -- VIDEO

Nominations for June 6′s CMT Music Awards were announced this morning, with Carrie Underwood leading the pack with five nods, followed by Miranda Lambert, who received four.

See the full list below, which also includes three nominations a piece for Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, and Thompson Square.

If there’s one category we feel strongly about, it’s CMT Performance of the Year, which honors the best live performance that aired on a CMT show, series, or special. Little Big Town has to win for their cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” on the Music Builds: CMT Disaster Relief Concert. It starts at 2:40 in the clip below; you’re guaranteed to get chills. READ FULL STORY

Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift pen song for 'Believe'

Apparently Taylor Swift wasn’t too upset about getting Punk’d by Justin Bieber recently. The post-teen princess teamed up with the Canadian wunderkind to write a song for his next album, Believe. Per MTV News, Swift will be a little bit country to Bieber’s a little bit zebra pants, though there’s no word on whether she provided vocals on the track, à la Hunger Games megahit “Safe and Sound,” or if she’ll simply take a writing credit.

Swift joins a roster of heavy hitters on the collab, including Kanye West and Drake. Said Bieber, “With my music, it doesn’t only stay in a box. It’s so out there. Everything is so different and that’s why I’m so happy with this album.” “Boyfriend,” Bieber’s first single from Believe, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the singer recently sent shivers down the spines of his followers when news of collaborations with Carly Rae Jepsen and One Direction hit the Internet. READ FULL STORY

ACM Awards: Best and worst of the broadcast

The real winners were announced last night at the 47th Academy of Country Music Awards. But here are a few more honors from the telecast that you should feel free to weigh in on:

Best hosts: They’re no Brad and Carrie, but Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire (or is it just Reba these days?) maintained a playful rapport and charming competitiveness throughout the telecast. During the opening bit, Blake nailed Taylor Swift’s trademark suprised face while joking about her upcoming perfume. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I smell this good!” he imitated as he put his hands to his cheeks. Reba roasted Blake a bit for his old mullet (never forget!), and in return, Blake offered a few barbs about her age — although she’s looking mighty fine at 57! Blake’s humor just ever so slightly delved into the mean territory (I could have done without the Randy Travis and Tim Tebow jokes), but he still garnered big laughs throughout the night. Why is it that country music award shows seem to be the only type that prove hosts can actually be funny? My guess is that they don’t take themselves so dang seriously! READ FULL STORY

ACM Awards: And the winners are...

Below, check out the winners of  the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards:

Song of the Year: “Crazy Girl” by Eli Young Band

Album of the Year: Four the Record by Miranda Lambert

Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum

Vocal Duo of the Year: Thompson Square

Video of the Year: “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith

Vocal Event of the Year: “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson

Single Record of the Year: “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson

New Artist of the Year: Scotty McCreery

Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton

Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift

To see the entire list, including industry, radio, and instrumentalist awards, check out the complete winners list at the official ACM website.

Two new 'Hunger Games' tracks leak -- LISTEN

Though The Hunger Games soundtrack won’t officially hit stores until Tuesday (you can find our lead review in the new issue of EW out this Friday), two new tracks from have leaked.

Taylor Swift’s “Eyes Open” counters the ethereal sound of her Civil Wars’ collab “Safe & Sound,” expressing the fiery side of Katniss with lyrics like “Everybody’s waiting for you to break down.”

Meanwhile, Kid Cudi’s “The Ruler and the Killer” is an appropriately grimy-gothic mood piece with a pounding, arena-ready beat. Listen below: READ FULL STORY

TV Jukebox: 'Portlandia,' 'The Walking Dead,' 'Awake' and more music-on-TV moments

Canoe dancing, cocaine overdoses, and car crashes were just some of TV’s strange scenarios made momentous by music these past two weeks. As some shows concluded their seasons, and others just got started, we found “show tunes” from past Jukebox favorites A Gifted Man, Parenthood, Cougar Town, Hawaii Five-0, The Lying Game, and New Girl, plus new entries from Eastbound and DownJustified, Portlandia, Jane By Design, The Walking DeadAwake, and the British version of Being Human. Check out our picks below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!) READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift turns down cancer patient's prom request -- but counters with an invitation to the ACM Awards

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis set the bar high for every celebrity when they each agreed to go to a military ball after being asked out online.

Taylor Swift earned her own invitation this week when 18 year-old Kevin McGuire, a New Jersey high school football player battling a second round of leukemia, asked her to be his prom date.

McGuire’s older sister set up a Facebook invite, which sincerely asked the star to serve as her little brother’s date. “Kevin is the kindest, most noble 18 year old a person could even fathom meeting, and throughout his ups and downs Kevin never even questioned ‘why me?’” his older sister wrote.

“Nothing, and I mean NOTHING brightens Kevin’s day more than Taylor Swift,” she said. “Kevin DESERVES more than anyone a special event in his life.. and the one thing he wants is to GO TO PROM WITH TAYLOR SWIFT!”

The page quickly drew tens of thousands of supporters and became a much-buzzed-about story on the web, so an hour ago, Swift took to her Facebook page to respond to the bold request. She left the following brief message: READ FULL STORY

Taylor Swift and Zac Efron cover Foster the People on 'Ellen': Watch it here

We’d like to introduce you to your favorite new supergroup: Tayzac Swifron.

Taylor Swift and Zac Efron sat down on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote their upcoming films Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, but the pair got distracted when Ellen found out that Swift had taught her costar how to play guitar during production.

“He had like one lesson,” Swift said. “And he was good at it! I taught him how to play ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People.”

And to prove it, the duo grabbed a couple of guitars and played the Grammy- nominated song — though the lyrics were modified for Ellen’s sake. Check it out below:

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Nicki Minaj explains Grammy performance was part of a 'movie'

Four days have elapsed since Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, but the conversation about Nicki Minaj is still going.

Her colorful, Catholic-baiting performance of “Roman Holiday” remains the solitary lightbulb around which many media moths are fluttering, asking variations on the question, “Uh, what was that?”

“I don’t know what is the big issue,” Minaj told reporters on the red carpet of an event for Viva Glam MAC cosmetics. “You know how people write plays and movies? That’s what I did. I wrote that and I gave the world a tiny little preview of what was to come. And so I have to perform it on the set in which it would be in the movie, right?”

Minaj seems to think that the big problem people had with her performance was that it was on a set, though nobody voiced those same complaints about Katy Perry’s generally well-received run through “Part of Me” or Taylor Swift’s theatrical take on “Mean.” The issue was not the fact that it was over-the-top (because, quite frankly, there’s no shortage of that), but the fact that it was confusing and somewhat poorly executed.

But let’s give Minaj the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is a small portion of a much larger project. Does that mean that her upcoming album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is a concept album about exorcism?

Is this an actual movie in the sense that we’ll actually be able to watch it on DVD (in between Lifetime Originals, of course)? Or is it more of a movie in the conceptual sense, the way that stoners will tell you, “My life is a movie, man. But who’s the director? Is it this God? Or is it this hamster over here? What’d you do with the Corn Nuts?”

Minaj has certainly succeeded at keeping her name in the news, which has further fueled speculation (and, no lie, excitement) over her upcoming album, which was originally slated to hit stores this week. Will she be able to keep this up until the actual release date of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded on April 3? Based on her wig collection, it’s safe to say “yes.”

What did you think of Minaj’s performance? Has it gotten better or worse since Sunday? Get Roman in the comments.

Read more on EW.com:
Nicki Minaj releases new song ‘Starships’: Hear it here
Grammys 2012: An on-the-scene report from inside the Staples Center
Nicki Minaj levitates, lights fires, speaks in tongues for Grammys performance of new single ‘Roman Holiday’

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