Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” won song of the year at the 2022 iHeartRadioMusic Awards, which were presented on Tuesday (March 22). The fast-paced, two-hour show aired live on Fox from the venerable Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Host LL Cool J opened the show with a hits medley.
Lipa wasn’t present, so the biggest category wasn’t presented on-air, just quickly announced in a round-up of other non-televised awards. But three of the other top winners were present to accept — Olivia Rodrigo for female artist of the year, Lil Nas X for male artist of the year and Silk Sonic for best duo/group of the year. It was the first win in those categories for all three artists.
In accepting his award, Lil Nas X pointed out that he was “delusional” to think he could drop out of school and make it big, come out of the closet at the peak of his career, and record a song about gay lust (“Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”) and have it become a smash hit. “It’s OK to be delusional when you’re chasing your dreams,” he concluded.
Avril Lavigne, who landed her first hit on the Billboard Hot 100, “Complicated,” when she was just 17, presented Rodrigo’s award. Rodrigo was likewise 17 when she scored her breakthrough smash, “driver’s license.” Rodrigo also won the award for new pop artist. And Rodrigo’s pop-punk smash “good 4 u,” which shows the influence of such Lavigne hits as “Sk8er Boi,” resulted in an award to another artist.
Camila Cabello won best cover song, a socially voted category, for her cover version of “good 4 u.”
“Stay” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber won best collaboration. It beat, among others, a second Bieber collab, “Peaches,” which featured Daniel Caesar and Giveon.
Luke Combs won country artist of the year for the fourth consecutive year. Drake won hip-hop artist of the year for the fourth time, though his run hasn’t been consecutive.
Foo Fighters took rock artist of the year for the second time.
Machine Gun Kelly won alternative rock artist of the year for the first time. David Guetta won dance artist of the year, also for the first time.
The show presented new artist awards in seven genres – Rodrigo (pop), Måneskin (alternative), Mammoth WVH (rock), Lainey Wilson (country), Yung Bleu (hip-hop), Giveon (R&B), and Grupo Firme (Latin).
BTS won two socially-voted awards – best fan army for the fifth consecutive year and best music video for “Butter.”
Harry Styles won tour of the year, an award that wasn’t presented last year because of the pandemic. The award has gone in previous years to such road warriors as Taylor Swift (twice), Coldplay, U2 and Elton John.
Jennifer Lopez became the third recipient of the ICON award, following Bon Jovi (2018) and Elton John (2021). In her acceptance speech, she suggested that “ICON,” in her case, was an acronym for “I can overcome negativity – every single moment, and so can you.”
Lopez also performed on the show, as did Megan Thee Stallion, Jason Aldean, Måneskin and the very effective teaming of John Legend & Charlie Puth. Those two stars, sitting at facing pianos, sang several of each other’s biggest hits. That’s a familiar gimmick, but it felt genuine and organic here.
Tom Poleman, president and chief programming officer for iHeartMedia, and John Sykes, president of entertainment enterprises for iHeartMedia, served as executive producers of the show, along with Joel Gallen, for Tenth Planet; and Bart Peters, for iHeartMedia.
Here are the winners in key categories:
Song of the year: “Levitating” – Dua Lipa
Female artist of the year: Olivia Rodrigo
Male artist of the year: Lil Nas X
Best duo/group of the year: Silk Sonic
Best collaboration: “Stay” – The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber
Best new pop artist: Olivia Rodrigo
Alternative song of the year: “Monsters” – All Time Low featuring blackbear
Alternative artist of the year: Machine Gun Kelly
Best new alternative artist: Måneskin
Rock artist of the year: Foo Fighters
Best new rock artist: Mammoth WVH
Country song of the year: “If I Didn’t Love You” – Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood
Country artist of the year: Luke Combs
Best new country artist: Lainey Wilson
Dance artist of the year: David Guetta
Hip-Hop artist of the year: Drake
Best new hip-hop artist: Yung Bleu
Best new R&B artist: Giveon
Best new Latin artist: Grupo Firme
Best cover song (socially voted category): “good 4 u” (Olivia Rodrigo) – Camila Cabello
Best fan army (socially voted category): #BTSARMY – BTS
Best music video (socially voted category): “Butter” – BTS
TikTok songwriter of the year (socially voted category): Jax
Trailblazer Award: Megan Thee Stallion