When the iHeartRadio Awards opened on Friday (Sept. 18), no one knew the evening would be rocked by the news that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. A politically loaded occurrence beyond day-to-day music news, the response was overwhelming on social media. At the same time, music fans looking to enjoy an evening of music were ready and accounted for, helping to celebrate the sounds that bring us together in the toughest times.

The tireless champion of the underprivileged was a perfect opener for the 2020 iHeartRadio Festival. Bringing her Khalid collab “So Done,” Keys performed a beguiling set that opened the doors for the performers that followed.

The digital festival featured a strong showing of the year’s radio MVPs, including Quavo, Offest and Takeoff. Migos performed a medley of radio faves in the most 2020 fashion – rapping a medley of their hits to a screen showing a variety of fans. Sure, they wanted to be there IRL. But hey, it is what it is.

A genre melder of the highest degree, Thomas Rhett (hair swoop and all) sidled into the radio country MVP role to demonstrate what a (die a) happy man looked like — and point out “Look What God Gave Her.”

The long-running hitmakers demonstrated the beauty of separation while playing a socially distanced set. Despite the roars of audience approval, it was clear the footage was recorded separate from the crowd, but it didn’t matter – the passion pulled through to demonstrate how much Coldplay valued the gig. “This is a bizarre concert for us, but thank you for having us,” Chris Martin said. Thank you, Chris.

BTS has taken over the North American continent so gradually one might not have noticed — but given that we’ve put every member of BTS on our magazine cover, it’s obvious we’ve been watching. When BTS kicked into their Hot 100 No. 1 “Dynamite,” it was clear they were dominating, but their cross-cultural importance was established when each member continued to sing in Korean throughout a medley of BTS tracks. The finale – featuring the group executing flawless moves to “Boy With Luv” (minus Halsey) – demonstrated how deeply committed each member was to the group’s success.

Saturday (Sept.19), the iHeartRadio Music Festival will wrap up. Here’s how to watch.


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