Fifteen years ago, a Blink-182 cover band was born in the wilds of Summerlin.
An exclamation point here, a tweak in musical direction there, and we’d have Panic! at the Disco to glam up the mid-aughts emo boom with theatrical panache and a self-aware swagger, designer threads and knowing smirks in place of their peers’ skinny jeans and watery eyes.
Nowadays, only frontman Brendon Urie remains from Panic’s original lineup, but the Las Vegas native has steered the group to a remarkable career rebirth in recent years by embracing an outsize, arena-pop flamboyance, beginning with 2016’s “Death of a Bachelor,” the group’s first No. 1 record.
On Wednesday, Panic! returns to Las Vegas as one of the performers at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, where the group is up for top duo/group and top rock artist, competing against fellow Las Vegans Imagine Dragons in both instances.
The local connection is just one of the top five storylines to watch for during this year’s show, which will be broadcast from the MGM Grand Garden at 8 p.m. on NBC.
The queen B receives her court
Think of a speeding car without brakes.
Now, replace that speeding car with a razor-tongued 26-year old rapper with a history of hurling shoes at rivals and eagerly manning the front lines in the battle of the sexes with bayonet-sharp rhymes of feminine comeuppance.
Yeah, there may be only one person who can stop the seemingly unstoppable Cardi B at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.
And that would be Cardi B.
The “Bodak Yellow” rapper/professional meme generator/public footwear tosser will actually be competing against herself in three categories (top-selling song, top collaboration and Hot 100 song).
Those are among her show-leading 21 nominations, one short of the record, shared by Drake and The Chainsmokers (22 apiece in 2017).
It’s been quite a run for Cardi B of late.
In the past 12 months, she became the first female solo artist to win the Grammy for best rap album thanks to her critically lauded, double-platinum debut, “Invasion of Privacy,” with every one of its 13 tracks going gold or platinum, the first time that’s ever happened.
Of course, there was the occasional hiccup here and there, such as her fight with fellow rapper Nicki Minaj at a New York Fashion Week party last September, during which Cardi B whipped a high heel at her foe.
But hey, we can understand why she didn’t throw hands instead: Can’t lug trophies home with broken mitts.
The hip-hop hegemony continues
It was the year hip-hop went full Biff Tannen on various musical McFlys.
Rap’s commercial dominance is hardly a new development, but now it’s sitting on rock ’n’ roll’s chest, slapping it in the face with its own hand. Sure, George Harrison’s guitar may have gently wept, but now it’s crocodile tears for the instrument in question, which has become so rare on the charts, even Bigfoot is questioning its existence.
To wit: Of the Billboard Awards’ top five nominees, all are rappers, with Drake (17), Post Malone (17), Travis Scott (12) and the late XXXtentacion (10) following Cardi B’s lead.
In two of the biggest categories, top Billboard 200 artist and top Hot 100 artist, popster Ariana Grande, who is up for both, is the only nonrapper nominated.
Seriously, rock ’n’ roll, time to make like a tree and … go do some tree stuff.
An icon becomes an Icon
Speaking of dominance, ever been put in a headlock by a 5-foot-9 super-diva with a voice almost as powerful as our command of the English language?
Well, the Billboard charts have.
For a decade.
Some stats, stat: Carey topped the Billboard Hot 100 during every year of the 1990s. She’s the only artist to do so in any decade. She’s notched 18 No. 1 hits and spent 79 total weeks on the chart, the most among any solo act. She’s notched six No. 1 albums and sold more than 200 million records.
Seriously, those numbers are no laughing matter — kind of like one of her ex-husband Nick Cannon’s stand-up routines.
As such, Carey will be a well-deserved recipient of the Icon Award at this year’s show, joining the likes of Stevie Wonder, Prince, Cher and Celine Dion.
She’ll accept the award in person and perform a medley of her many, many hits, which means the broadcast might run long by a leap year or two.
BTS fever comes to Vegas
Kinda doubt anyone ever braved the prospect a surprise cavity search from airport security solely to gain entry into the country that Lance Bass hails from.
The same can’t be said of BTS diehards.
The South Korean septet has set new standards in boy band mania: A recent study by the Hyundai Research Institute found that BTS was the reason that one in 13 foreign visitors came to their homeland in 2018, to the tune of $3.6 billion to the country’s economy.
Sure, there have been a number of huge acts of this ilk in the past, from N’ Sync to the Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block to definitely not O Town.
But BTS is pile-driving them all into a bottomless pit of teenage sighs.
Earlier this month, they became the first Korean music act to perform on “Saturday Night Live” and earned over 5 billion streams on Spotify in the same week. They’re also the only Korean band to score a No. 1 album in America, with last year’s “Love Yourself: Tear.” Boasting a massive social media presence, BTS even earned a Guinness World Record in 2018 for most Twitter engagements by a musical act.
And now, they’re coming to Vegas to perform their hit “Boy With Luv” with Halsey on the show.
Your kid sister’s heart is about to get punched right in the face.
What: Billboard Music Awards
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday (airing at 8 p.m. on NBC)
Where: MGM Grand Garden, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Tickets: $90-$375 (888-929-7849)