She joined the ranks of past Icon recipients including Prince, Stevie Wonder and last year’s winner, Cher, marking the occasion with her first TV performance in nine years.
Kicking off her performance with (what else?) a cry of “gimme a beat!”, Janet then launched into a rendition of ‘Nasty’, before breaking into some choreography for a medley of ‘If’ and ‘Throb’, both taken from her ‘janet.’ album.
Collecting her Icon award from Bruno Mars, Janet said during her acceptance speech: “I am deeply humbled and grateful for this award.
“I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused.
“I stand with those women, and with those men, equally outraged by discrimination, who support us in heart and mind.”
Taking a religious turn, she continued: “This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh. My prayer is that weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source… that source is God.
“Everything we lack, God has in abundance. Compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love.
“So again, I want to thank all of you for this honour… and I thank God for giving me the precious energy that lets me live my life as an artist, who every single day seeks to expand my capacity for love.”
This year’s Billboard Music Awards also featured stand-out moments from Kelly Clarkson, who delivered an impassioned speech in the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting in her home state of Texas, and Ariana Grande, who kicked off the show in style as the anniversary of the Manchester bombing approaches.