For a music fan, The Grammys are one of the most important days of the year. Watching the Grammys never ensures too many surprises except for the performances. Remember when Pink did her whole performance while doing aerial acrobatics and everybody loved it except for the people who saw it on the MTV Awards? Remember when Rihanna got down with Morris Day & The Time? Those numbers were memorable for their own special reasons, but they weren’t the best.
In light of the Grammys airing Sunday, February 12th on CBS at 8 pm, The Urban Daily decided to highlight some of the best performances in recent memory. Share your favorite Grammy memories in the comments along with any performances you feel we should’ve put in the list.
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10. Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know (1996)
Any man can attest to the fact if a woman yells all of the time, whatever they’re yelling about goes in one ear and out of the other. In 1995, you couldn’t find an angrier woman screaming about being done wrong than Alanis Morissette. After sweeping every award show know to man, she performed the break up anthem “You Oughta Know” at the 1996 Grammys. Morisette’s performance created such a great impact because she stripped the anger away and sang with all the sadness a pained woman could muster. Who knew Joey from Full House could provoke such emotion.
9. Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya, Pink, & Patti LaBelle – Lady Marmalade (2002)
It’s common knowledge the remake of the Labelle classic caused plenty of beef between Pink and Christina Aguilera. During happier times, Mya and Lil Kim joined the dueling divas for a rousing rendition of “Lady Marmalade” at the Grammys. The potluck quartet had the audience and viewers rocking. The set was only taken to the next level when Patti LaBelle surprised everyone and tore the stage up with her diva scream. In that one diva scream, Patti LaBelle let those ladies know there still isn’t anything like the real thing.
8. Alicia Keys & Jamie Foxx – If I Aint Got You/Georgia On My Mind (2005)
The planets seemed to align for Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys in 2005. Foxx was winning awards hand over fist for his impeccable portrayal of music legend Ray Charles. Alicia Keys was killing the game with her single, “If I Aint Got You.” The pair met on the Grammy stage to pay tribute to Ray Charles and proving soul music is still alive and well. The chemistry between Foxx and Keys burned the screen and etched their duet into the memories of every soul music fan around the world.
7.Christina Aguilera – It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World (2007)
When it was first announced Christina Aguilera was going to perform in the James Brown tribute, there was a great deal of shade thrown. Nobody figured Aguilera could do justice to the Godfather of Soul’s catalog. She sure shut us all up. Christina hit the stage draped in white and sang the hell out of “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” She embodied his wild spirit and soulful presence like she was possessed by the man himself. If there was any doubt before, Christina Aguilera cemented her status as one of the greatest vocalists of all time with this performance.
6. Moby, Jill Scott & Blue Man Group – Natural Blues (2001)
In 2001, Jill Scott was still fairly unknown in mainstream circles. Her breakout moment came when she was asked to perform with minimalist rocker Moby and the industrial Blue Man Group. While the names on paper sound like a terrible mix, their performance of Moby’s “Natural Blues” blended industrial drums, brooding rock, and powerful soul music together for a memorable four minutes. Though Scott was shut out of every category she was nominated for that night, the academy rectified their mistake soon after. See what a little showing off can do for you?
5. Kanye West, John Legend, Mavis Staples & The Blind Boys of Alabama – Jesus Walks (2005)
Kanye West being the egotistical maniac he is, it was only right he show out for his first Grammy appearance. Putting on a production never associated with rappers, Kanye set himself apart from the pack. John Legend and The Blind Boys of Alabama added the gospel feel needed to fully express the importance of “Jesus Walks.” Mavis Staples did her thing despite needing a throat lozenge. Years later, the most poignant moment of the set was when Kanye and his mother are getting down together when she says, “Only Jesus can save us!”
4. Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately (1987)
Janet Jackson took control of her career and the Grammy stage in 1987. Her hit album, Control was nominated for Album of the Year and Janet, along with her Flyte Time crew, proved why. Partially, Janet’s performance is so celebrated because she was still considered Michael’s little sister. Stepping out of the shadow of the greatest artist to ever grace the planet is hard enough, but to do it with such style was amazing. Plus, how cool is to see Jerome, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis doing the funky penguin with Janet Jackson. Shout out to that Paula Abdul choreography. It remains iconic in its own right.
3. Prince and Beyonce – Purple Rain Medley (2004)
Anytime you find out Prince is performing, you better be there to witness greatness. In 2004, Prince opened the Grammys with Beyonce who was nominated for her first solo Grammys for Dangerously In Love. The two rocked the house with a medley of tracks off Purple Rain to commemorate the 20th anniversary. Besides their showmanship, some of the best performances are the slip ups. Beyonce can’t get her mic to stop falling so she dances away. Prince feels Beyonce is mic hogging, so he takes it from her. Directly after they smash the stage Beyonce won her first solo Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. How’s that for a good night?!
2.Mary J. Blige – No More Drama (2002)
Watching Mary J. Blige perform “No More Drama” live is like going to a church revival and catching the spirit. You can’t help but to shout right along with Mary. As a voice of a generation’s pain, when MJB decided it was time to leave the drama behind, she did so in dramatic fashion. In fact, there is no best way to describe Mary’s Grammy performance. You just have to watch it and feel it for yourself. I will say when she let go of the nonsense we all had no choice but to believe her.
1. Michael Jackson – The Way You make Me Feel/Man In The Mirror (1988)
There could never be a better Grammy performance than Michael Jackson’s. Only the greatest entertainer ever can begin a performance singing secular music and transition into a gospel tinged pop song without batting an eyelash. When Michael slid into “Man In The Mirror,” he became a slave to the number. How is it possible nobody took any issue with him grabbing his crotch and humping the floor before invoking Jesus in the second half? He’s Michael Jackson, that’s how! Bow down and show your respect!