Janet Jackson surprises Billboard Music Awards appearance to honor fellow icon Mary J. Blige

Janet Jackson does not make many television appearances — so when the reclusive pop legend strutted out unannounced in her top hat and tuxedo dress at Sunday’s 2022 Billboard Music Awards to present her friend Mary J. Blige with the lifetime-achievement Icon Award, she was greeted with a standing ovation of her own. Doja Cat, sitting in the BBMAs audience at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena, looked particularly awestruck, and her reaction instantly became a meme. It was a ladies’ night of mutual fandom and appreciation at the BBMAs, when Jackson, who received the Icon Award at the 2018 Billboard Awards, honored Blige this year. “What makes an icon?” she began. “Is it the ability to create, explore, and practically pioneer an entire musical genre? Is it the amassing of millions of dedicated fans that breathe your art daily, the same fans to whom you constantly show love? Is it a multi-decade career full of not only hits, but those songs that make you feel a certain way when you hear them and get a certain look on your face? You know, the look that says, ‘Girl, yes! I understand! Yes!’ The answer is all of the above. The answer is tonight’s recipient of the 2022 Billboard Icon Award, Mary J. Blige.”

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