The Teen Choice Awards may have a panda mascot named “Choicey” who runs around and ambushes people with surfboard trophies (really), but plenty of stars take it very seriously.
Here are some of the highlights from Sunday night’s ceremony on Fox, hosted by Nick Cannon and Vine star Lele Pons:
The BTS win
After a hard-fought battle with several fandoms, from Directioners to Swifties, the BTS Army won the coveted choice fandom prize. Although BTS – the hugely popular K-pop boy band – wasn’t there, the hosts interviewed some fans onstage. It went something like this:
Cannon: “How do you feel about BTS?”
Fan: “OH MY GOD!”
Pons: “What does BTS mean for you?”
Fan: “AMAZING!(inaudible screaming)”
Zac Efron’s unexpectedly emotional speech
The former High School Musical star has gone on quite a journey since his Disney Channel days, and it’s been a while since he had a big hit. That changed this past winter with The Greatest Showman, which earned a tonne of money and fans, if not critical acclaim.
When Efron accepted the award for drama movie actor, he seemed genuinely emotional. First, he thanked co-star Hugh Jackman. “I couldn’t ask for a cooler, more amazing person to work with,” Efron gushed. “He’s my best dramatic actor. And a hero, and a mentor, and a good friend.”
Then he gave a shout-out to another co-star, Zendaya: “Look what we did. We rewrote the stars,” he said, a corny yet adorable mention of their duet in the movie. “Thank you for being such an amazing person – so beautiful, so talented, so courageous. Just a through and through amazing, brilliant person.”
The “choice hottie” category
“choice hottie” feels like an odd category in our newly-woke era about body image, but the Teen Choice Awards will not let tradition die. Although when Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony received the award, you could tell she didn’t exactly know how to react.
“Thank you for thinking I’m hot and giving me that award, that’s really cool!” she told the crowd, and then switched tactics: “I know that you chose it for my brain. I know that that’s why you did it. I know.”
Meanwhile, male winner Cole Sprouse of Riverdale had this to say: “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked since I was in diapers, studied hard, went to university, and I may have almost broken a couple times but I finally did it. I am: choice male hottie.”
Musical performances included Bebe Rexha, Meghan Trainor, Foster the People and Lauv – but Khalid (choice breakout artist and R’n’B/hip-hop song for Love Lies) brought down the house with a medley. As he went from Young Dumb & Broke to OTW to American Teen, he slowly made his way from the stage to the crowd, a brave place to be in the midst of a sea of screaming teens.
A tribute to Love, Simon
Pop star Troye Sivan offered a tribute to teenagers worldwide, saying 2018 has been the year that “teens are at the forefront of change”.
“Their drive and eloquence has been unlike anything we have ever seen before,” Sivan said, as pictures of young protesters and school shooting survivors appeared on a screen behind him. “Teens truly are giving voices back to those who had been silenced and giving hope to those who had been dismissed. Above all else, teens have reminded us that despite our differences, we all share common experiences, too.”
The speech moved easily into a celebration of Love, Simon, the groundbreaking rom-com about a shy high school student. “One film this year embodied all of those universal emotions,” said Sivan, who wrote a song for the movie’s soundtrack. “It made us feel understood and celebrated the most important thing there is: self-acceptance.”
After the cast arrived to receive the award for comedy movie, star Nick Robinson said: “This is a story we hope will help some people.”
Anna Kendrick tried to start a feud with Ryan Reynolds
Anna Kendrick was technically there for the comedy movie actress award for Pitch Perfect 3, but she was way more excited when she heard the announcer say she also won “choice Twit”, a prize for Twitter personality.
“Did I just hear that I won choice Twitter?” she said excitedly, noting that Mindy Kaling, Kumail Nanjiani and Ryan Reynolds were also in the category. She threw some shade at Reynolds: “In your face, Ryan! I beat you! Stay in your lane!”
A boy band singalong
The brief collaboration between presenters In Real Life and CNCO, who won the Latin artist award, was just delightful.