So it is without a doubt that Beyonce will receive numerous accolades when she performs at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, especially since it was recently announced that she is expecting twins. No disrespect to Queen Bey but there have been some pretty spectacular performances and some that don’t involve hairology. In conjunction with the upcoming Grammys, we at August Man decided to pay tribute to some of the all-time favourites as we present our take on the 10 greatest Grammy performances of all time.
Michael Jackson, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror” (1987):
Five years after Michael Jackson dominated the music industry with Thriller, the former Jackson 5 lead silenced sceptics when he returned to the spotlight in 1987 with Bad, an album that spawned an unprecedented five #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
During the 1988 Grammy Awards, Jackson moved his way through The Way You Make Me Feel with balletic finesse, getting audiences to tap their feet as he made his way through the track with amazingly choreographed dance moves. But he proved he wasn’t just about slick choreography when Jackson later brought out a gospel choir, and performed a live rendition of the #1 track Man In The Mirror giving it the treatment it truly deserved. Jackson amazed the audience with powerful vocals and an outstanding stage presence. If there was ever any doubt before, Bad truly solidified Jackson’s status as the King of Pop.
Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya, Pink, & Patti LaBelle, “Lady Marmalade” (2002):
Though the feud between Christina Aguilera and Pink may have made some headlines, there was a time when the pop stars shared the stage, more than amicably. We revisit those ‘happier times,’ in particular to when the divas performed as the 44th Annual Grammy Awards, spurred on by Lil Kim and Mya. The foursome teased the audience with a seductive yet enthralling rendition of Lady Marmalade, from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. The power packed performance was made even more so when the song’s original singer Patti LaBelle made a surprise appearance. With one diva ‘scream,’ which surpassed all the high notes by four combined, LaBelle made it clear who the ‘Original’ was.
Eric Clapton, “Tears In Heaven” (1993):
“Would you know my name, if I saw you in heaven”
Clapton performed Tears in Heaven at the 1993 Grammy Awards, a song he wrote after the tragic death of his 4-year-old son Conor, who fell 49 stories from the window of his mother’s New York City apartment in the spring of 1991. Clapton delivered an emotional rendition of the song, despite the fact that he did not shed a single tear. Tears in Heaven went on to nab Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got to do with it” (1985):
It wasn’t just about a performance. Instead Tina Turner’s appearance the Grammys is hailed as being one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Following the much-publicised divorce and tales of horrific abuse that she endured from her ex-husband Ike Turner, the then 45 year old R&B legend marked her triumphant return during the 27th Annual Grammy Awards when she returned as a rock star, dazzling audience with a engaging performance of What’s Love Got to Do With It, showcasing her legendary legs at the same time. Turner was four Grammys including for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The Queen of Rock received a standing ovation for what many saw as a story of survival.
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” (2012):
Adele returned to the stage at the 2012 Grammy Awards after cancelling part of her 2011 tour to have throat surgery that threatened to put her voice in jeopardy. To prove that her vocals were not scarred, Adele began Rolling in the Deep, a cappella, and by the end of her performance, it was clear that she was unstoppable regardless of the surgery. To solidify her triumphant return, the singer won all six Grammy Awards she was nominated for.
Janet Jackson, “What Have You Done for Me Lately” (1987)
There was a time when Janet Jackson was known as the being ‘little sister’ of the Jackson family. That all changed when the then 20 year old dominated the stage during the 1987 Grammy Awards. Though Control didn’t take home the win for Album of the Year, her performance that night is often seen as her breakthrough performance. With the aid of her Flyte Time Crew and some mesmerising Paula Abdul choreography. Jackson proved that she had taken control (pun intended) of her career when she performed through What Have You Done for Me Lately, in the process stepping out of the shadow of the King of Pop.
Justin Timberlake ft. Jay-Z, “Suit & Tie” and “Pusher Love Girl” (2013):
After a seven year hiatus, the President of Pop returned to the stage with an electrifying performance. Gone were the Ramen hair days as Timberlake returned to prove that he is a pretty slick performer. In a performance that was reminiscent of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Timberlake’s showcase during the 55th Annual Grammy Awards was full on retro, as the singer opened Suit & Tie with sepia lighting, before jazzing his way through suave dance moves only to finish off the duet with Jay-Z. Timberlake later elevated his performance to new heights with Pusher Love Girl, which won a Grammy for Best R&B Song of the Year that night.
Whitney Houston, “One Moment in Time” (1989)
These days award show performances seem to focus more on theatrics rather than raw talent. Dazzling stage lighting, mesmerising fireworks, or extreme complex choreography seem to be a must-have on what makes a performance great. However, during the 1989 Grammy Awards, Whitney Houston received an immediate standing ovation using just her voice when she delivered a powerful rendition of the 1988 Summer Olympics track, One Moment in Time. If anyone can send chills down your spine with just her voice, it’s Whitney.
Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams” (1984):
In the music industry, it is said that imitation is not the highest form of flattery. However, Elvis Presley would’ve been proud if he had the chance to see Eurythmics’s performance during the 1984 Grammy Awards. During the ceremony, the duo made a long lasting impression while performing Sweet Dreams with Annie Lennox dressed as the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, scoring a milestone for androgyny.
Neil Diamond & Barbra Streisand, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (1980):
The legendary duet that features two of the greatest voices in the music industry remains a timeless classic. Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond garnered a standing ovation with their tear-jerking rendition of You Don’t Bring Me Flowers. The duo begin on opposite sides of the stage. As they engaged each other, they brought to life the story of two lovers who have drifted apart, awaiting the inevitable goodbye. One of the reasons that this performance resonated strongly with the audiences, was the message it holds. The song was released at a time where divorce rates were increasing. This evocative performance sealed its place as one of the greatest Grammy moments.