The range of artists that paid tribute to Elton John at this year’s iHeartRadio Music Awards — from H.E.R. to Demi Lovato to Brandi Carlile, to Chris Martin and Lil Nas X — is a testament to John’s far-reaching influence across genres. H.E.R. kicked things off with a funky take on “Benny and the Jets,” before Carlile took over with her interpretation of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Lovato finished off the tribute with a poignant cover of “I’m Still Standing” in an outfit worthy of the music icon.
Martin and Lil Nas X then presented John with the iHeartRadio Icon Award, with Martin calling John “one of the sweetest, kindest, most talented, most generous, most groundbreaking, most sexy people of all time.” John accepted the award with characteristic humor and grace, and spoke specifically about the importance of radio. “That’s where you hear things, that’s where you discover things, that’s why I like doing a radio show, that’s why being played on the radio for the first time, when you sit there and you hear yourself and you’re so excited. And it’s, for me what this award means, is that I still covet new artists,” John said, before complimenting Lil Nas X on his “balls of steel.” Artists, take note: this is a perfect acceptance speech.