The Billboard Music Awards 2022 has been criticised by viewers for the “tone deaf” booking and timing of Morgan Wallen’s performance.
The country star was banned from last year’s ceremony – among other awards shows – after footage of him using a racial slur surfaced online.
However, it was announced in the days leading up to the event that Wallen would be performing at this year’s ceremony, which is being held tonight (May 15) at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. In the minutes before he took to the stage, civil rights activist Tamika Mallory was given an award and delivered a message about social justice and anti-racism.
The BBMAs 2022 also opened with a message offering condolences to the victims of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, which saw 10 people killed in a racially motivated attack, and another shooting in Laguna Words, California in which one person was killed.
Wallen performed his tracks ‘Don’t Think Jesus’ and ‘Wasted Alone’ at the ceremony. As his performance was aired, viewers criticised his appearance on social media. “Wait isn’t Morgan Wallen the guy who said the n word so many times?” one Twitter user wrote. “And they have the nerve to have him performing while they had the message about anti oppression, anti racism and social justice before and during the show?”
Wait isn’t Morgan wallen the guy who said the n word so many times? And they have the nerve to have him performing while they had the message about anti oppression, anti racism and social justice before and during the show? #BBMAs
— kaley✨ (@luhvzzz) May 16, 2022
Another added: “Fuck Morgan Wallen and this Jim Crow music. With what just happened in Buffalo, we coulda cut him from the lineup. Un-canceled my ass. That’s the problem now, we always giving out second chances for MFs to play in our faces.”
Fuck Morgan Wallen and this Jim Crow music.
— ERIC (@EricUnedited) May 16, 2022
See more reactions below.
this whole lil bit is tone deaf… is morgan wallen not performing later on???? oh.
— wendy byrde apologist (@satsumatrees) May 16, 2022
not bbmas saying they don't support violence against black people but inviting morgan wallen 💀💀💀💀💀💀
— young k's military wife (@kailovesjjong) May 16, 2022
They really let Morgan Wallen perform after a speech about anti-racism huh
— Goldenpelt ※ (@Goldenpelt) May 16, 2022
— chilombooo (@chilombooo1) May 16, 2022
After a racist person targeted black people shopping the #BBMAs decided to have Morgan Wallen perform tonight.
— Far From Scripted Podcast (@FarScripted) May 16, 2022
The majority of the awards at the Billboard Music Awards 2022 were handed out during a pre-show livestream on TikTok. Going into the ceremony, Olivia Rodrigo and Kanye West lead the winners with six awards each.
The Weeknd had the most nominations at the BBMAs 2022 with 17 nods, with Doja Cat following behind on 14. She has picked up the first award of the main ceremony, taking home the trophy for Top R&B Artist.
Diddy opened the awards show with the help of Bryson Tiller, Jack Harlow and Teyana Taylor, before Silk Sonic brought a cover of Con Funk Shun’s ‘Love’s Train’ to Vegas. Latto also made her debut appearance at the awards ceremony, with a performance of ‘Big Energy’.
Other performances tonight will come from the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Florence + The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy and more. Travis Scott will also make his first major public appearance since the crowd crush tragedy that occurred during his headline set at last year’s Astroworld Festival. A total of 10 people were killed in the incident and, according to a recent filing, thousands more were injured.