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Sunday October 25th, 2020 7:43AM

Eilish wins top album at Billboard Awards, Clarkson performs

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Billie Eilish's debut album continued its winning streak, picking up the top Billboard 200 album honor at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.

Eilish was at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday night to accept the honor for “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” It won the top prize at the Grammy Awards in January.

She thanked her fans for “believing in me and caring about me," adding that when it comes to winning awards she “never ever take these for granted."

Eilish wearing a mask as she spoke in front of an empty venue — because of the coronavirus pandemic — and she's up for more honors throughout the night.

Kelly Clarkson, who is hosting, kicked off the show singing Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love," which became a dance hit last year after Whitney Houston's cover of the song was remixed by Norwegian DJ-producer Kygo and became an international hit. Clarkson was joined by drummer Sheila E. and a cappella group Pentatonix for the performance of the song, which earned Houston, who died in 2012, a posthumous nomination for top dance/electronic song.

Post Malone, who will perform later in the show, is the top nominee with 16, including bids for top artist, top male artist, top rap artist and top streaming songs artist. His competition for the show's biggest prize, top artist, include Taylor Swift, Eilish, Khalid and Jonas Brothers.

K-pop all-stars BTS — who currently own the top two positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week with “Dynamite" and the “Savage Love" remix, with Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo — will also perform. Others set to perform Wednesday include Alicia Keys, Bad Bunny, Sia, Kane Brown, Luke Combs, Doja Cat, En Vogue, Khalid, Brandy, Ty Dolla $ign, Swae Lee, Demi Lovato and SAINt JHN. Country music icon Garth Brooks will be presented the Icon Award from Cher, and rapper-activist Killer Mike will earn the Change Maker Award.

Some of the performances will be live, while others were pre-taped due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year's ceremony was originally supposed to take place in April but was postponed because of the pandemic.

Other nominees include Kanye West, who released two gospel albums last year. He is up for nine prizes, including bids for top gospel artist and top Christian artist, while four of the five songs nominated for top gospel song are from West.

Outside of Houston, other deceased nominees include rapper Juice WRLD, who died in December and is currently dominating the charts and streaming services with his first posthumous album “Legends Never Die." He picked up nominations for top rap artist and top rap album for his 2019 release “Death Race for Love.” And EDM superstar Avicii is nominated for top dance/electronic artist and top dance/electronic album for “Tim,” the album he started working on before he died in 2018 and was later completed by his producers and family.

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