A hologram of Michael Jackson made its debut Sunday at the Billboard Music Awards, mirroring the late King of Pop's signature slick dance moves as some members of the audience became emotional.

The hologram performed Slave to the Rhythm, a song from Jackson's new posthumous album Xscape, along with a plethora of background dancers, beaming lights and fire blasts.

It was easily the biggest moment at the awards show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Kendall Jenner could take second place for unintentionally creating a big moment during the show. The reality star fumbled over her words — almost pulling a John Travolta — when introducing newcomers 5 Seconds of Summer.

2014 Billboard Music Awards - Show

Lorde performs on stage at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday in Las Vegas. (Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press)

"And now we welcome ... One ...," the 21-year-old said, seeming to almost say One Direction, as she put her head down. "Guys, I'm the worst reader."

Jenner then introduced a video featuring the Australian pop group, who performed their rising hit She Looks So Perfect.

Lorde, Imagine Dragons among winners

Other performers Sunday included Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, who were crowd favourites when they performed This Is How We Roll. Even Carrie Underwood and her hockey player-husband Mike Fisher sang along.

Ariana Grande, who turns 21 next month, was semi-racy when she sang her hit Problem in a mini black and white dress alongside rapper Iggy Azalea. Grande was nominated for best new artist, but she lost to breakthrough New Zealander Lorde.

2014 Billboard Music Awards - Show

Wayne Sermon, left, and Dan Reynolds, of the musical group Imagine Dragons, perform at the Billboard Music Awards. (Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press)

Lorde also won top rock song for the ubiquitous hit, Royals. The 17-year-old entered the night as the top contender, along with Imagine Dragons, where the Billboard Music Awards marked a homecoming for the band.

The Las Vegas-based rockers won the night's first trophy, top rock album, for their 2012 debut, Night Visions.

"We've been a band for five years and we played small bars for many of those years, and we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for people that believed in our band, in our small band that started here in Las Vegas from the very beginning," leader Dan Reynolds told the audience at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Judge ruling on hologram

He then thanked radio, family and management for their support, adding with a yell at the end: "And Billboard!"

Imagine Dragons was also up for the night's biggest honour, top artist, which ultimately went to Justin Timberlake.

The singer also won top Billboard 200 album and accepted in a video as he's on tour outside of the country. He sang "thank you" along with his band.

Michael Jackson-Hologram Lawsuit

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 1988 file photo, Michael Jackson leans, points and sings, dances and struts during the opening performance of his 13-city U.S. tour, in Kansas City, Mo. Five years after Jackson's untimely death at age 50, the singer remains a pop culture powerhouse, proving to be just as big a moneymaker in death as in life. He's graced the stage at the Billboard Music Awards via hologram, appears on a new album of unreleased songs and is generating tens of millions of dollars a year - money that will continue to grow and keep Jackson's mother and children living like entertainment royalty. (AP Photo/Cliff Schiappa, File) (Cliff Schiappa/Associated Press)

Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez kicked off the awards show with a colourful performance of the World Cup anthem, We Are One (Ole Ola), where Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte also joined in. Robin Thicke and John Legend, whose song All of Me is currently No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, also performed.

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Billboard Music Awards can use a hologram of the deceased pop icon, rejecting efforts from tech companies seeking to block the digital performance. Jackson died in 2009.