Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s appearance at Sunday’s 2013 Billboard Music Awards had been billed — by many — as some sort of coming out party.
Omg! Insider, Us Weekly and People and even Billboard were absolutely sure the pair would be sitting together.
A reported PDA filled Saturday night visit by the “Take You” singer and his on-again off-again ex-girlfriend to Las Vegas’ Mirage resort to see Cirque du Soleil’s Love, seemed to be a sign that a public display of rainbow-colored coupledom was a mere 24 hours away.
But it was not to be.
The pair sat near other, in fact they were separated by an aisle, but not next to each other. Bieber sat on one side of the front row with manager Scooter Braun and others. Gomez sat with Taylor Swift and Brit singer Ed Sheeran in the other half of the front row.
A little backstory.
During Billboard’s event, Bieber won three awards: Top Male Artist, Top Social Artist and a new Milestone Award. But, as he accepted the new award sizeable sections of the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena audience booed him.
After a lengthy pause, Bieber told the crowd:
“I”m 19 years old. I think I’m doing a pretty good job.” He added “And basically from my heart I really just want to say it should really be about the music. It should be about the craft, the craft that I’m making. This is not a gimmick… I’m an artist and I should be taken seriously. And all this other bull should not be spoken of.”
While the teen star didn’t specifically refer to his eventful Believe tour — which included speeding fines in Dubai, a tour bus drug bust in Sweden, delayed show starts and the seizure of his former pet monkey — his meaning was clear.
Some time after that, footage of the Canadian’s brief backstage encounter with Gomez, captured on Billboard’s online video feed, revealed a nuanced dynamic between the pair that could be read either way.
In the clip, Bieber is seen talking to a group of people and a male friend, just as Selena and Swift walk by with an unidentified red-headed friend.
The Spring Breakers actress stopped and smiled affectionately at Justin before kissing him on the cheek. However, she did appear to stop short of responding when he moved in for a lip-kiss.
Mail Online described the moment as:
Meanwhile, another dynamic seen in the above clip was quite a bit clearer.
Unbeknownst to Bieber, a weird ‘meangirls happening’ between Swift and the red-head who was holding Gomez’s hand while the actress spoke to her ex, was taking place.
The red-head rolls her eyes more than once and repeatedly tries to pull the ex-Disney star away from the “Boyfriend” singer. Swift goes even further.
After seeing Gomez and Bieber kiss and embrace, Swift moved away. But while her back was turned, she stuck her tongue out as if the mere sight of the pair’s affection made her gag.
It’s a revealing moment and lends credence to previous reports that Gomez’s friends do not approve of Bieber as a possible or actual partner for the “Come and Get It” singer.
Selena later posted the picture to her Instagram account, with a caption that read: “Vegas hug + kiss.”
Meanwhile at the awards show itself, Swift picked up eight awards including the top honor Artist of the Year, and the Top Billboard 200 Album award for Red. She thanked her fans by telling them: “You are the longest and best relationship I’ve ever had.”
Brit-Irish band, One Direction, won three gongs including Top Pop Album with “Take Me Home” and Top New Artist.
Madonna, demurely dressed in black fishnets and garter, won the Top Touring Artist award for her MDNA Tour, which grossed the highest sales for 2012.
“A showgirl needs her fans,” said the mother of four.” Thank you for supporting me for three decades.”
Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” saw the Canadian claim the Top Digital Song award. The song has sold 7 million downloads.
Noted musical performances included Bieber’s solo rendition of “Take You” and a team up with will.i.am for “#ThatPOWER.” Miguel’s showstopping “Adorn” spot was soured by his accidental landing on two audience members in the mosh pit when he leaped from one part of the stage to another.
Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj turned in an explicit performance for “High School.”
Billboard Icon Award winner Prince and his backing band 3rdEyeGirl closed out an unexpectedly dramatic show with a stunning medley delivered in full 70’s styling.
As for whether Bieber and Gomez are properly ‘back on,’ who knows? But we do know how Taylor Swift would feel about it. The steel behind those smiles.