Billboard handed out its annual music awards Wednesday night, but the biggest suspense wasn't over who would bring home a trophy. It was over how well Madonna survived pregnancy.

The Material Mom made her first post-partum appearance at last night's Las Vegas gala, but if you blinked, you might have missed her. Looking a bit heavier around the chest and hips, she darted on stage to accept the Artist Achievement Award then dashed off, presumably to tend to 2-month-old Lourdes.

In fact, Madonna had originally declined the offer to appear. "I can't bear to be away from my daughter for more than a few hours," she said. "But then they said that Tony Bennett was going to give it to me, and I said, 'All right, she won't miss me for a few more hours.'" Once on stage, she quipped to Bennett, "Are you sure I'm not supposed to be giving this to you?"

Otherwise, there was little drama. This is one of the few awards shows where there are no surprise winners--all statuettes are doled out based on the magazine's year-end charts, which are based on a combination of record sales and radio air play.

The usual suspects trotted out at the Aladdin Hotel's Theater for the Performing Arts to recieve some new hardware for the mantle. Alanis Morissette was Artist of the Year; LL Cool J, Rap Artist of the Year; and Brooks & Dunn, Country Single of the Year. Mariah Carey was the Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year and also took home the Special Hot 100 Singles Award for "One Sweet Day" with Boyz II Men. The song spent a record 16 weeks at number 1.

Also present: Carlos Santana, apparently around longer than any of us suspected, who was handed the Century Award. And, inevitably, Los Del Rio's ubiquitous "Macarena" was Single of the Year.

The complete winners at the 1996 Billboard Music Awards were:

Alanis Morissette, Artist of the Year

Brooks & Dunn, Country Single of the Year for "My Maria"

Carlos Santana, Century Award

Dishwalla, Rock Track of the Year for "Counting Blue Cars"

LL Cool J, Rap Artist of the Year

Los Del Rio, Single of the Year for "Macarena"

Madonna, Artist Achievement Award

Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men, Special Hot 100 Singles Award for "One Sweet Day"

Mariah Carey, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year

R. Kelly, R&B Artist of the Year

The Tony Rich Project, New Artist of the Year

Toni Braxton, R&B Single of the Year for "You're Makin' MeHigh"/"Let It Flow"

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