Imagine Dragons early winners at Billboard Awards

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The Billboard Music Awards has marked a homecoming for Imagine Dragons.

The Las Vegas-based rockers won the night’s first trophy, top rock album, for their 2012 debut “Night Visions” at the awards show Sunday in Las Vegas.

“We’ve been a band for five years and we played small bars for many of those years, and we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for people that believed in our band, in our small band that started here in Las Vegas from the very beginning,” leader Dan Reynolds told the audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

He then thanked radio, family and management for their support, adding with a yell at the end: “And Billboard!”

Imagine Dragons is up for 11 other awards, as is breakthrough New Zealander Lorde, who was nominated for top rock album.

Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez kicked off the awards show with a colorful performance of the World Cup anthem, “We Are One (Ole Ola),” where Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte also joined in.

Other performers include Katy Perry, Robin Thicke and Carrie Underwood. But Michael Jackson’s hologram may be the night’s most anticipated moment.

The Billboard Music Awards may feature a hologram of the pop icon as part of a “history-making performance” dick clark productions is promising viewers and feverish Jackson fans. It would be another way his record label, Epic, is promoting his second posthumous album, “Xscape,” released last week. The album’s first single, “Love Never Felt This Good,” debuted earlier this month when Usher danced while the song played at the iHeartRadio Music Awards.

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Billboard Music Awards can use a hologram of the deceased pop icon, rejecting efforts from tech companies seeking to block the digital performance. Jackson died in 2009.

Imagine Dragons is also up for the night’s biggest honor, top award. The group will battle Perry, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Miley Cyrus, who will perform remotely from a tour stop in England, for top artist.

Timberlake is also up for top Billboard 200 album with his comeback effort, “The 20/20 Experience.” It has stiff competition: Beyonce’s self-titled fifth album, which came in surprise form and set records, is also up for the honor. The other competitors are best-selling releases from Eminem, Drake and Luke Bryan.

The battle for top Hot 100 song is strong, too. Nominees include Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Perry’s “Roar,” Lorde’s “Royals” and Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” the longest-running song in the Hot 100’s history.

John Legend, who currently holds the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 chart with “All of Me,” will perform during the live telecast on ABC.

Online:

http://www.billboard.com/bbma

Follow Mesfin Fekadu at http://www.twitter.com/MusicMesfin

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