British Grammy-winning singer Adele won 12 awards from 18 nominations for her juggernaut album 21, including best artist, best female artist, and best album.
LMFAO, the uncle-nephew duo of Redfoo and SkyBlu, showed up in trademark outrageous fashion and picked up two awards, song of the year for Party Rock Anthem and the top duo/group, along with four more honours.
Rappers Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, and R&B singer Chris Brown took honours for top new artist, male artist of the year, and R&B artist of the year, respectively.
LMFAO kicked off the show with an energetic medley of their hits Party Rock Anthem and Sexy And I Know It. They were followed later by a shirtless Chris Brown performing his dance single Turn Up The Music with BMX bikers doing stunts.
Katy Perry, clad in a white dress, hung above the stage in a swing to sing her latest “personal and intimate” heartbreak single, Wide Awake, while Justin Bieber, one of last year’s big winners at the Billboard show, presented a grown-up image this year after turning 18, singing Boyfriend with dancers dressed up as clowns and neon geisha girls.
Other performers included Kelly Clarkson, The Wanted, Carly Rae Jepsen, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Linkin Park, Nelly Furtado, and Billboard Battle of the Bands winner Patent Pending.
Taylor Swift was given the Billboard Woman of the Year honour for her success as a recording artist.
Bieber picked up the award for the most social artist, thanking his 22m Twitter followers and 43m Facebook fans, saying “the internet is where I got my start”.
Perry was given the Spotlight award for being the only female artist in history to see five No 1 singles from one album. Michael Jackson is the only artist to have received the award previously.
Veteran soul singer Stevie Wonder, 62, was honoured with the Icon award this year and sang Higher Ground and Overjoyed with R&B singer Alicia Keys, wrapping the set with his hit song Superstition.
With some big losses in the music world already this year, the awards show featured numerous tributes to late artists.
Early in the show, hosts Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell paused to remember late Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, who died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, with a moment of silence.
New Zealand artist Natasha Bedingfield paid tribute to the late ‘Disco Queen’ Donna Summer, who died last week after fighting lung cancer while Wiz Khalifa paid tribute to late Beastie Boy Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, who passed away earlier this month after battling cancer.
The biggest tribute of the night was for Whitney Houston, who died suddenly aged 48 in February.
The late singer was posthumously given the Millennium award, while singers John Legend and Jordin Sparks led heartfelt renditions of The Greatest Love of All and I Will Always Love You against a backdrop of photographs of Houston.