Janet Jackson makes a surprise appearance at the Billboard Music Awards to honor fellow icon, Mary J. Blige

Janet Jackson hasn’t appeared on many TV shows — so when the reclusive pop legend appeared without warning in her top hat and formal dress at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday to present her friend Mary J. Blige with a Lifetime Achievement Icon Award, she was greeted with A standing ovation on her part. Doja Cat, seated in the BBMAs audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, looked especially startled, and her reaction instantly became a meme.

It was a ladies’ night of fans and mutual appreciation at the BBMAs, when Jackson, who received an Icon award at the 2018 Billboard Awards, honored Blige this year. What makes a symbol? I started. “Is it the ability to create, explore, and practically pioneer an entire musical genre? Is it the garnering of millions of loyal fans who breathe your art daily, the same fans you constantly show love to? Is it a multi-decade career filled with not just the hits, but those songs that make you feel a way certain when you hear it and take a certain look on your face?You know, the look that says,girl, yes! I understand! yes! The answer is all of the above. The answer is tonight’s winner of the 2022 Billboard Icon Award, Mary J. Blige.”

Jackson continued, quoting some of Blige’s most famous songs: “Mary J. Blige stands for truth. Her work has always given us comfort because she sings to me, she sings to you. I remember, but I won’t cry, because although sometimes it feels like it’s raining every day, it never I have more drama. I’m fine with my life, my life, my life, my life. In the sunshine, Marie has committed to her fans to always be who she really is now — that’s true love.” When Blige then came out to give her own speech, Love returned, telling Jackson, “Speaking of icons, you’ve always been one of our biggest inspirations growing up.”

Mary J Blige speaks after receiving an Icon Award from Janet Jackson during the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, May 15, 2022. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni

Mary J Blige speaks after receiving an Icon Award from Janet Jackson during the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, May 15, 2022. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni

Janet Jackson presents the Icon Award to Mary J. Blige during the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Janet Jackson presents the Icon Award to Mary J. Blige during the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 15, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

While Blige quipped at the beginning of her speech, “I have a lot to say, so please don’t roll ‘wrapped’ music on my stuff,” she seemed humbled in the presence of Jackson’s greatness and with the icon’s honor in her own right. “As in the world now, I think people think symbols were born this way, and they became legends overnight. That certainly isn’t the case,” she stressed. “It takes a lot of time, hard work, a lot of survival and trial and error, to achieve greatness. What the icon means to me is overcoming obstacles to achieve the unimaginable and being so impressed with the impact on so many people, that’s what I’ve always been. I’ve been on this journey for a long time – a journey that doesn’t always look like you see me now, one filled with so much heartache and pain. But God helped me turn those experiences and emotions into my music.”

Blige continued with a bit of humility, just moments after the BBMAs host accompanied Puff Daddy (also known as Diddy) to the podium: “When Andre Harrell and Puff Daddy of Uptown Records introduced the queen of hip-hop soul to the world, it marked the beginning of the movement. An inner city girl who gets to know her characters and can relate to everything I say. And every artist who entered the game wanted to do everything I was doing and still do to this day. I was awesome, and I still am. Even the ghetto, so cool – and the people were so threatened So. And now everyone wants to become a cool ghetto.”

Blige triumphantly concluded, “The message of my music has always been that we’re not alone in our struggle, and I’m not alone now. For a long time I’ve been searching for true love, but I’ve finally found my true love, and that true love is me. Who runs Mary J. Blige now?” me! However, she humbly added that ‘there’s no me on the team’ and thanked the friends, family, and strong players in the industry who have supported her throughout her long journey – including the late Harrell ‘for joining these Schlobohm projects and giving us a wish and luring me out,’ her ‘big brother’ Diddy, and Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine “for inviting me to perform at the Super Bowl, because I am so grateful.”

Jackson and Blige may have stolen the show at this year’s Billboard Music Awards without even singing, but the three-hour television broadcast featured several performers, including Silk Sonic, Megan Thee Stallion, Ed Sheeran, Dan + Shay, and Machine Gun Kelly, Miranda Lambert and Ellie King, Florence + The Machine, Lato, Becky J, Maxwell (covers the unusual selection of “The Lady In My Life” to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Janet Jackson’s aforementioned brother Michael). Thriller album) … and controversial ones, Morgan, Elaine and Travis Scott, on their first TV shows since their scandals. It was Olivia Rodrigo, who won seven, and Drake, who won five.

For a complete list of the 2022 Billboard Music Award winners, click here.

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