(Reuters) - Pop stars Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift won the big prizes on Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards, which also honored legendary performers Madonna and Prince.
Bieber, who was named top male artist, also performed at the show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. He also took home Billboard’s first Milestone Award, chosen by fans, for musical innovation and ingenuity.
“I’m 19 years old. I think I’m doing a pretty good job, Bieber said. “It should really be about the music. This is not a gimmick. I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously. And all this other bull should not be spoken of.”
The teen heartthrob did not elaborate, but in recent months he has been involved in several high-profile incidents ranging from driving offenses to reports of hard partying and drugs being found on his tour bus in Sweden.
Swift won the top award of the night, artist of the year. She thanked her fans by telling them: “You are the longest and best relationship I’ve ever had.”
Pop diva Madonna was named top touring artist for her “MDNA Tour,” 2012’s highest-grossing concert series.
Madonna strode onstage to accept the accolade from will.i.am, wearing black fishnet stockings, garters and a padlock choker.
The MDNA tour grossed more than $305 million from 88 sold-out shows and attracted an audience of 2.2 million people. Madonna acknowledged her fans, saying: “A showgirl needs her fans. Thank you for supporting me for three decades.”
She also thanked her four children for being “incredibly supportive.”
The Billboard Music Awards, hosted by “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan, opened with Bruno Mars performing “Treasure.”
Early awards went to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, who won top rap song for “Thrift Shop,” and Nicki Minaj, who took home the top rap artist honor.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was named top digital song, while Swift took home the top Billboard 200 album award for “Red.”
French producer and DJ David Guetta was named top electric dance music artist.
Among musical highlights, Bieber performed “Take You,” which was chosen by his fans via Twitter, before pairing up with will.i.am for “#ThatPOWER.”
Other musical pairings included Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull singing “#LiveItUp,” Minaj and Lil Wayne who performed “High School,” and Christina Aguilera and Pitbull singing “Feel This Moment.”
Selena Gomez, Chris Brown, Icona Pop, South Korea rap sensation Psy and Swift, who was nominated for 11 Billboard awards and received eight, performed as well.
In an apparently unscripted moment, Miguel, performing “Adorn,” leapt from the stage and landed feet-first atop two young women. No mention was made on the broadcast as to whether they were injured.
The show ended with the Icon Award for Prince, in recognition of his unique career and accomplishments in the music industry. Prince performed a medley to close the show, but did not deliver an acceptance speech.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Stacey Joyce