6 Of The Most Epic Performances In Grammys History

6 Of The Most Epic Performances In Grammys History

A look back at a few encore-worthy moments from Grammys past.

Published January 26th

Written by Diamond Alexis [Co-authored by Danielle Ransom]

The Grammy Awards will return on Sunday (Jan. 26) for its 62nd show to uplift some, upset others, and enhance the 2019 crowns of musical eclat.

Historically, the ceremony has been regarded as an illustrious rite of passage for creatives spanning the industry—from recording artists, producers and engineers, to songwriters, dancers and music educators. The celebration not only mobilizes intense critical debates, it also offers a prestigious world stage for leading contemporary music talents. 

This year, that stage will host a highly-anticipated tribute for beloved late hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle, as well as performances by Lizzo, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Run D.M.C., Tyler the Creator, Ariana Grande and more.

As we await yet another star-studded evening, BET hit rewind on some of the most epic performances, legendary surprise guests and unforgettable moments of Grammys past.

  1. 2014: Beyonce and Jay-Z, “Drunk In Love”

    Spellbinding the live audience in a way that only Queen Bey can, Beyoncé recreated the titillating “Drunk In Love” visual to open the 56th annual Grammy Awards.

    The megastar delivered crowd-enthralling choreography from a single chair while showered in moody lights and wrapped in a curve-hugging bodysuit. She was later joined by a dapperly suited Jay-Z to carry out the rest of the intoxicatingly sexy duet. The Carters set the bar for the rest of the ceremony and exuded a stage chemistry that’d induce serious cases of FOMO for anyone who missed their On the Run Tour that year.

  2. 2005: Usher and James Brown, “Caught Up” and “Sex Machine”

    As R&B’s most dominant force in 2005, Usher strut the Grammy stage with a minimalistic yet suave swag for audiences to swoon over. Decked out in all black from his top hat to his tailored tux, the showman delivered a dynamic, multi-platform rendition of  “Caught Up.” Upon reaching the final stage, he exploded into the crowd with a suited-and-booted dance troupe to usher in (no pun intended) his legendary stage guest, James Brown. Complete with equally smooth moves, the two ended their set with a performance of “Sex Machine” that left—in the words of the iconic Godfather of Soul— the Staples Center feeling good, like Usher knew that it would.

  3. 2002: Mya, Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Pink and Patti Labelle, “Lady Marmalade”

    Leave it to the R&B charm of Mya, the rock and roll flair of P!nk, the hip-hop steez of Lil Kim, and the mezzo-soprano roar of Christina Aguilera to transform the 44th annual Grammy Awards stage into a ladies-only affair. Bringing their four-woman “Lady Marmalade” collaboration to life, the girls served corsets, lace, garters and chaises. In one of the performance’s most indelible moments, the ladies ripped their robes away for a steamy costume reveal. After rapper-producer royalty Missy Elliott popped up for the occasion, it was only right to end the quartet’s rendition of the LaBelle classic with another surprise guest: the Godmother of Soul, Miss Patti LaBelle herself. As such, the ladies received a standing ovation from every set of hands in the house.

  4. 1974: Stevie Wonder, “You Haven't Done Nothin'”

    Marking an epochal moment for the 16th annual Grammy Awards, Stevie Wonder’s performance of “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the ‘70s. The hit was widely acknowledged as a direct objection to President Richard Nixon, who ironically resigned two days after the song’s release. Whether you were a supporter of the 37th president or not, Stevie’s undeniable performance had everyone tuned-in to the virtuoso’s groove.

  5. 2008: Tina Turner and Beyoncé, “Proud Mary”

    In a definitive moment for the BeyHive books, a then-27-year-old Beyoncé stole the show by interpolating her “Deja Vu” single into homage for the women in music who slayed before her. Bey hailed queens across the spectrum of black musicianship, including Sara Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Lena Horne, Anita Baker, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston.

    In the words of Beyoncé herself, the songstress imbued her performance with the “beat of Donna Summer, spirit of Mahalia Jackson” and “the jazz of Ella [Fitzgerald] or Nancy [Wilson].” Her solo set preceded a grandiose welcome for her stage partner for the night, the incomparable Tina Turner. The rock and roll matriarch overwhelmed the arena with powerful performances of her landmarking “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Better Be Good To Me” singles before reintroducing Bey to the stage for a “Proud Mary” duet.

     

  6. 2017: Bruno Mars, “Let’s Go Crazy”

    Conjuring the spirit of The Purple One, pop funkateer Bruno Mars was tasked with honoring Prince at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Bruno broke out his guitar for the 1984 classic “Let’s Go Crazy,” and energized a live band in a way that only a true Prince disciple could. From each tap, grunt, howl, and wipe of the forehead, the 24K Magic star nailed the electrifying guitar improviso that famously sealed Prince’s most memorable performances.

(Photos from left: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/WireImage, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

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