What are the 10 most notorious Grammy performances?
Of all the big, splashy award shows aired at this time of year, none lives or dies by spectacle more than the Grammys. And while the actual awards part is nice – and of course, the fashions - it’s the performances that invariably generate maximum blather in the Twitterverse.
This year’s talents include Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, AC/DC, Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga - plus what's being billed as the "All-Star Grammy Trio" of Kanye West, Paul McCartney and Rihanna. Will any prove to be complete train-wrecks or tear-jerkers? There’s amazing precedent in both categories. In anticipation of Sunday’s (February 8th) ceremony, we survey 10 notorious Grammy performances.
As a rapper, Eminem is supposed to be controversial and outspoken. Being homophobic not so much. So it was a shock to see openly gay Elton John guesting with the Detroit MC during the 2001 show despite the rapper’s perceived anti-gay lyrics on the then-new The Marshall Mathers LP. Funny enough, the pair became friends, with Sir Elton telling Rolling Stone that they regularly chat on the phone.
We love Andre 3000 – we really do. But his performance of his band’s hit 'Hey Ya' in 2004 when he was dressed up as some kind of bizarre Native American from the future was just bad. Also kind of offensive. And proof positive that stylists are worth their weight in gold always.
The British superstar completely killed when she performed the then-ubiquitous 'Rolling in the Deep' during 2012’s show after undergoing throat surgery. Talk about a gooseflesh moment. She also cleaned up, winning six awards that night.
With all due respect to my esteemed Dylan-loving colleague John, Bob Dylan performances can be tough to take. But he was well beyond reproach in 1998 when his performance of “Love Sick” was stage-bombed by some performance-art prankster naked from the waist up with the words “soy bomb” mysteriously scrawled across his chest. To his credit, Dylan just kept on playing.
Theirs is a sad story – if not a cautionary one – about the perils of music manufactured in boardrooms by guys in suits instead of in nightclubs by hungry artists. But even in 1990, the pre-fab pair’s rendition of their hit 'Girl You Know It’s True' was just so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe any self-respecting music show organizer would let it happen.
Way back in 1998 – long before Kanye West stage-bombed Taylor Swift at the MTV Awards - Wu Tang Clan member ODB did the same thing to Shawn Colvin as she stepped up to accept her Grammy for song of the year. Was ODB not a fan of the song “Sunny Came Home?” Nope – he was protesting the fact that his group lost the Grammy for hip-hop album of the year to Puff Daddy, thus proving himself a sore loser with exceptionally bad timing.
In 2009, the most talked about performance happened behind the scenes, when Chris Brown assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna on the eve of the show, resulting in the sudden cancellation of the pair’s advertised duet. But something good came out of it: assault became a mainstream topic of discussion. On Sunday, we look forward to Rihanna playing alongside Kanye West and Paul McCartney. Teaser video below.
The Moulin Rouge theme probably storyboarded well but the actual execution of LaBelle’s "Lady Marmalade" was… how shall we say… a smidge over-the-top?
On the eve of the Grammys in 2012, singer Whitney Houston died, casting a dreadful pall on the ceremony. But Jennifer Hudson’s heartfelt performance of Houston’s signature song, “I Will Always Love You” was a glorious and fitting tribute to an enormous talent cut down too soon.
The same action-packed ceremony that saw Adele and Jennifer Hudson pull heart-strings also saw the rapper performing some weird and rather ill-advised exorcism-type performance overseen by hooded priests during “Roman Holiday.” Hey, they can’t all be winners.