The Grammys bring together the best artists in music every single year, which gives these hitmakers a chance to dazzle both their contemporaries and millions fans around the world. Some artist have turned in their most memorable performances at the annual award ceremony, using the insane production value and primetime slotting to put together a stunning spectacle – and we’re expecting more of the same when the Grammy awards take over LA’s Staples Center on February 12, 2017!
Get ready for the biggest night in music with this countdown of our favorite jaw-dropping performances from the Grammys’ illustrious history. Take a look at the unforgettable moments below, then gear up for another glitzy and glamorous affair this year – and don’t miss your chance to catch 2017 Grammy Nominees on tour now!
Michael Jackson, 1988
How could you possibly put the King of Pop’s Grammy performance into words? Watching MJ effortlessly moonwalk his way through two of his best late-’80s hits – “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “The Man in the Mirror” – is amazing enough all on its own. But he also elevated everyone in attendance when he drove home his message of change and positivity with a live gospel choir.
Whitney Houston, 1994
Whitney was at the peak of her powers in 1994, staring in The Body Guard with Kevin Costner and winning Album of the Year for the movie’s soundtrack. Before she took home the statuette, she performed the movie’s emotional chart-busting hit “I Will Always Love You.” Her voice covered everything from airy whispers to powerful eruptions of sentiment, proving beyond a doubt that she’s one of the most gifted singers ever.
Kendrick Lamar, 2016
Only a year ago, virtuoso rapper Kendrick Lamar completely redefined what we thought was possible on the Grammy stage. Starting out in a prison chain gang before joining tribal African dancers on stage, his bold political statement fused high art with must-see entertainment. He ended the set with a jump-cut enhanced freestyle that combined pure fire with pure truth, then projected an image of the continent of Africa with “Compton” written over it. This provocative piece is still flooring us.
Beyoncé and Tina Turner, 2008
Beyoncé and Tina Turner slayed at the 2008 Grammy awards with their matching silver outfits and indomitable energy on an amazing duet of “Proud Mary.” 40 years after the tune was written, the soulful divas set a high-watermark with their raucous rendition and treated music lovers everywhere to an irresistible showstopper.
Eminem and Elton John, 2001
Eminem examined the dark side of celebrity in his hit “Stan,” then brought it to life in this riveting Grammy performance. There was massive controversy surrounding the rapper at the time, as various activist groups accused him of homophobia and sexism. He responded by sharing the stage with pop luminary and gay rights advocate Elton John, who sung the hook during the hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking performance.
Eric Clapton, 1993
Only two years after losing his son in a tragic accident, Eric Clapton stole the show in 1993 with this heartbreaking rendition of “Tears in Heaven.” The beautiful acoustic arrangement almost outshines the original, making a strong case for why Clapton’s stirring tribute ballad deserved to take home the awards for Record and Song of the Year at the 35th annual ceremony.
Amy Winehouse, 2008
We get serious speakeasy vibes from this stylish Amy Winehouse set at the 2008 Grammys, which went down before the British soul singer took home five trophies. As she tears into fan favorites like “You Know I’m No Good” and “Rehab,” her Motown-inspired backup singers and blaring brass section further highlight everything we loved about her sound.
Lady Gaga and Elton John, 2010
What’s the only thing that could be more decadent than Mother Monster herself? How about a little help from the master of extravagant rock, Elton John? Following a Broadway-caliber staging of “Poker Face,” the Album of the Year-nominee donned full monster makeup for a Rocket Man-assisted mashup of “Speechless” and “Your Song” to cap off this gloriously over-the-top performance.
Chuck Berry, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and George Thorogood, 1984
To celebrate his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1984 Grammys, Chuck Berry invited guitar virtuosos Stevie Ray Vaughn and George Thorogood onstage for a no-holds-barred blues jam. This trio of six-string masters laid it down with serious bravado on a medley that included pivotal rock and roll classics like “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven” – and caught Chuck’s iconic duck walk for posterity.
Adele kept things simple for this goosebump-inducing rendition of “Rolling in the Deep,” making a genuine connection with Grammy viewers using nothing but her powerhouse voice and an acoustic backing ensemble. After this, it was clear that she deserved to take home all six trophies she was nominated for that evening. We can’t wait to see how many golden gramophones Adele nabs at this year’s ceremony, where she’s set to bring down the house again.