USA TODAY - Awards shows tend to bring out the best in music stars, who want to shine in front of their peers. It's also a good time for surprise collaborations.
Sunday's 2013 BET Awards, which aired live from Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, provided an opportunity for both. USA TODAY's Steve Jones looks at the night's performances.
*** ½ (out of four)
The soulful singer/rapper closed the show with the night's most energetic performance, with a little help from Erykah Badu and an appearance by a large white poodle.
2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar
The charismatic 2 Chainz put some bounce in his latest hit, before being joined by A$AP and Lamar on their raunchy player's anthem.
Ciara with Nicki Minaj
Minaj's frenetic rap got the party started before the singer limbered up with a quartet of dancers and eased into a slinky, gyrating performance of her sultry hit.
Take Me to the King
The gospel star delivered a stirring rendition of this gorgeous ballad of seeking the embrace of God.
Crooked Smile/Power Trip
A potent performance of the rapper's introspective rhymes. Miguel's soulful hook help give Trip its power.
Charlie Wilson tribute
Before the former Gap Band leader was presented with the lifetime achievement award, he was serenaded by a guitar-slinging India Aire (There Goes My Baby), Jamie Foxx (Yearning for Your Love) and Stevie Wonder (Burn Rubber-Why You Wanna Hurt Me). Justin Timberlake urged Wilson to sing after his heartfelt acceptance speech, and Wilson quickly brought the audience to its feet with the ballad You Are before being joined by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams. Timberlake joined in with a few lines of Dogg's Signs. The four closed out with Gap hits You Dropped a Bomb on Me and Outstanding.
How Many Drinks?
Miguel hit the high notes as he seductively crooned his sly pickup song while Kendrick Lamar rapped a smooth come-on of his own. The singer performed a split to cap his performance but didn't take any dives into the audience this time (after injuring a fan with a flying leap at the Billboard Music Awards).
Carey's lilting delivery of her midtempo hit was sweetly captivating, while Young Jeezy's rough rhymes gave it some edge. It was the remix version of her hit with Miguel.
Kelly set the audience up for something that promised scintillation but ended without ever really taking off. He made a grand entrance with male and female background singers trading lines to Contagious before Kelly took over with a medley that included When A Woman's Fed Up, Bump n' Grind and Ignition Remix.
B----, Don't Kill My Vibe
The California rapper's mesmerizing, introspective rhymes were soulfully punctuated by jazzy horns and Erykah Badu's searing vocals.
Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I.
Between the song's irresistible, Pharrell-produced beats and Thicke's sexy crooning, it was hard not to want to get up and move. All the eye candy cavorting around the stage seemed to boost the enthusiasm.
Fine China/Don't Think They Know
Brown's show opener was a little sedate for the usually electric performer. He had a six-pack of dancers with him, but he left the moves to them while he delivered his current pair of hits. Nicki Minaj provided a mild spark at the end.