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(USA TODAY) -- Awards shows tend to bring out the best in music stars, who want toshine in front of their peers. It's also a good time for surprisecollaborations. Sunday's 2013 BET Awards, which aired live from NokiaTheatre in Los Angeles, provided an opportunity for both. USA TODAY's Steve Jones looks at the night's performances.

*** ½ (out of four)

Janelle Monae

Q.U.E.E.N.

Thesoulful singer/rapper closed the show with the night's most energeticperformance, with a little help from Erykah Badu and an appearance by alarge white poodle.

***

2 Chainz, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar

Feds Watching/Problems

Thecharismatic 2 Chainz put some bounce in his latest hit, before beingjoined by A$AP and Lamar on their raunchy player's anthem.

***

Ciara with Nicki Minaj

Body Party

Minaj'sfrenetic rap got the party started before the singer limbered up with aquartet of dancers and eased into a slinky, gyrating performance of hersultry hit.

MORE: Winners' list

***

Tamela Mann

Take Me to the King

The gospel star delivered a stirring rendition of this gorgeous ballad of seeking the embrace of God.

*** ½

J.Cole

Crooked Smile/Power Trip

A potent performance of the rapper's introspective rhymes. Miguel's soulful hook help give Trip its power.

****

Charlie Wilson tribute

Beforethe former Gap Band leader was presented with the lifetime achievementaward, he was serenaded by a guitar-slinging India Aire (There Goes My Baby), Jamie Foxx (Yearning for Your Love) and Stevie Wonder (Burn Rubber-Why You Wanna Hurt Me).Justin Timberlake urged Wilson to sing after his heartfelt acceptancespeech, and Wilson quickly brought the audience to its feet with theballad You Are before being joined by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams. Timberlake joined in with a few lines of Dogg's Signs. The four closed out with Gap hits You Dropped a Bomb on Me and Outstanding.

***

Miguel

How Many Drinks?

Miguelhit the high notes as he seductively crooned his sly pickup song whileKendrick Lamar rapped a smooth come-on of his own. The singer performed asplit to cap his performance but didn't take any dives into theaudience this time (after injuring a fan with a flying leap at theBillboard Music Awards).

***

Mariah Carey

#Beautiful

Carey'slilting delivery of her midtempo hit was sweetly captivating, whileYoung Jeezy's rough rhymes gave it some edge. It was the remix versionof her hit with Miguel.

** ½

R. Kelly

Hits medley

Kellyset the audience up for something that promised scintillation but endedwithout ever really taking off. He made a grand entrance with male andfemale background singers trading lines to Contagious before Kelly took over with a medley that included When A Woman's Fed Up, Bump n' Grind and Ignition Remix.

***

Kendrick Lamar

B----, Don't Kill My Vibe

TheCalifornia rapper's mesmerizing, introspective rhymes were soulfullypunctuated by jazzy horns and Erykah Badu's searing vocals.

***

Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I.

Blurred Lines

Betweenthe song's irresistible, Pharrell-produced beats and Thicke's sexycrooning, it was hard not to want to get up and move. All the eye candycavorting around the stage seemed to boost the enthusiasm.

** ½

Chris Brown

Fine China/Don't Think They Know

Brown'sshow opener was a little sedate for the usually electric performer. Hehad a six-pack of dancers with him, but he left the moves to them whilehe delivered his current pair of hits. Nicki Minaj provided a mild sparkat the end.

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