Swift received the Billboard 200 artist award, the first trophy presented at the ceremony, in recognition of her best-selling album, Speak Now. The project also won for country album of the year, while Swift earned country artist of the year honors.
“I want to thank my record label for working so hard and I want to thank my family — my mom, my dad and my brother — for giving me the chance to make albums,” she said during her first acceptance speech. “You know, the impact of an album is all determined by the fans. You’re the ones who play the music in your cars and in your bedrooms. And you’ve just given me another reason to be completely in love with you. Thank you so much for this!”
In the third hour of the show, Swift returned to the podium for her country artist of the year honors.
“I just remember I used to watch the Billboard awards and see my heroes like Shania Twain and Faith Hill win these and now … I’m just having the best time doing this. I want to thank country radio and the fans for letting me do what I love more than anything in the world,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lady Antebellum claimed a trophy for country song of the year for “Need You Now,” which has since become the most-downloaded country song in history, according to the show. Of course, the song received significant pop airplay as well. All three members shared time at the podium to thank Billboard, country radio and especially the fans.
“You’ve changed our lives. Thank you so much! We love you,” Charles Kelley concluded.
Within the first hour of the broadcast, Keith Urban serenaded the audience with “Long Hot Summer.” Although he was the only solo country artist with a performance slot on the show, he was not nominated in any categories. Later in the show, Urban and the show’s host, actor-comedian Ken Jeong, riffed on a pair of banjos before introducing Lady Antebellum’s rendition of their latest single, “Just a Kiss.”
The Billboard Music Awards aired live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on ABC.