Grammys: The Greatest and Most Controversial Performances in History


There are so many good ones we can’t wait to see what this year brings (Image: John Shearer/Kevin Winter/Getty Images/L. Cohen/WireImage)

It’s almost time for the 2022 Grammys, so naturally we’re looking back at the most memorable performances in the show’s history.

This year, the awards will see performances from big names like Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, BTS, Lady Gaga, Lil Nas X and more.

However, Foo Fighters canceled their performance following the tragic death of band member Taylor Hawkins last month.

As for the nominees, it’s an open playing field with the likes of Doja Cat, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion poised for some big gongs.

Well, it wouldn’t be the Grammys without the memorable and controversial moments, many of which take place during performances.

Let’s take a look back at some of the messiest gigs, the most genius and everything in between – we can’t wait to see what’s headline-grabbing this year.


A slew of famous faces will take to the stage for more memorable performances at the Grammys this weekend (Image: Getty/AFP)

What are some of the best and most controversial Grammys performances of all time?

Michael Jackson 1988

Michael Jackson

Who could forget the King of Pop medley of The Way You Make Me Feel and Man in the Mirror? (Image: Getty/CBS)

We start off strong with the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

Michael’s 1988 The Way You Make Me Feel/Man in the Mirror medley will go down in Grammys history as the icon had the audience in the palm of his hand.

His epic 10-minute performance showcased his natural dancing skills (there was a moonwalk, of course) and emotional singing.

MJ’s otherworldly performance also included a live choir, creating an electric atmosphere and receiving thunderous applause.

Beyonce and Prince 2004

Beyoncé and Prince

What a powerful duo Beyoncé and Prince were (Image: WireImage)

Beyoncé has taken the Grammys stage on a number of occasions, and it won’t surprise you that this isn’t the first time her name has been mentioned in this list.

Queen B performed with the legendary Prince in 2004 and they wowed the crowd.

They teamed up to sing hits like “Purple Rain” and “Baby I’m a Star,” as well as a slick transition from “Crazy in Love” to “Let’s Go Crazy.”

The most iconic part, though? As they left the stage and the late prince said, ‘Don’t hate us because we’re fabulous.’ So iconic.

Amy Winehouse 2008

Amy Winehouse

Amy won an incredible five awards on the same night in 2008 (Picture: Getty)

Amy won five Grammy Awards in 2008 and it’s not hard to see why when you look at her performance that year.

She performed with her hits Rehab and You Know I’m No Good, which were streamed from London after the singer faced problems with her visa.

However, that didn’t stop her performance from stealing the show and becoming one of the most talked about Grammys in history.

Amy was being treated for addiction at the time but shone like a star with her enchanting performance from what looked like a jazz nightclub set.

Although she’s only in her early twenties, Amy was recognized that night for Best New Artist, in addition to four other awards.

Taylor Swift 2014

taylor fast

These Taylor All Too Well Hair Flips will go down in Grammys history (Image: Getty)

Taylor Swift is a Grammy king at this point as she is the first artist to win Album of the Year three times.

She’s also put in some standout performances over the years, one of the strongest being her 2014 rendition of fan-favorite All Too Well.

With dramatic hair strands and powerful vocals, it would have been hard to find a single audience who wasn’t covered in goosebumps as she belted out what has become her favorite song for live performances thanks to the new life fans have been given.

Taylor gave it her all as she played the tune on the piano, tears visibly in her eyes as she bare her soul in the deeply personal lyrics.

Taylor has 11 total Grammy wins and 42 total Mega nominations, with Evermore also up for Album of the Year again in 2022.

Lady Gaga 2011

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga sure knows how to make an entrance (Image: Reuters)

Well, every Lady Gaga performance is iconic in its own way, but her performance at the 2011 Grammys is one we’ll always remember.

Over 10 years later, who could witness the sight of her arriving on the red carpet in a giant egg?

As she took the stage, Gaga “slipped” before bursting into “Born This Way.”

While it wasn’t for everyone, it was the moment everyone was talking about.

Plus there’s no denying her talent with powerful vocals and killer choreography.

Lizzo 2020


Lizzo is an absolute powerhouse and is already establishing himself as one of the greats (Image: CBS)

This may be a more recent entry, but Lizzo has already solidified herself as a Grammys queen.

She took the stage in 2020 with Cuz I Love You and Truth Hurts and opened the Grammys to an all-female orchestra.

Viewers were then treated to an instrumental break by a group of ballerinas while Lizzo removed her beautiful dress.

After those crazy vocals, she returned to change the tempo with the rapping we all love her for.

Lizzo also dedicated her performance to Kobe Bryant, who died the same day.

Ariana Grande 2020

Ariana Grande

Ariana’s 2020 medley remains a fan favorite (Image: Getty)

This 2020 performance by Ariana really packs a punch Everyone after the pop star turned down the awards the previous year over a row over song selection.

The vocal powerhouse began with a chilling performance of Imagine before singing a verse from The Sound of Music hit Favorite Things and quickly crashing into 7 Rings.

Her medley ended with Thank U, Next, which had Ari fighting back tears as she changed the lyrics to honor her beloved father, Edward Butera.

“I thank my dad because he’s really great,” she sang, choking.

Nicky Minaj 2012

Nicky Minaj

Only Nicki Minaj could be exorcised on the Grammys stage (Image: WireImage)

Nicki Minaj made some headlines after this stunning 2012 performance.

The star began her medley performance by raging at a fake priest before showing a video of rapper Young Money becoming obsessed with her troubled alter-ego Roman Zolanski.

Nick needed an “exorcism” and was chained to a wooden board while hooded priests danced around them.

She then began to levitate while surrounded by flames and smoke, but in true Nicki style, she didn’t miss a single punch.

Bob Dylan 1998

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was escorted by an artist protester before being removed by security (Image: WireImage)

Bob Dylan’s performance was interrupted in 1998 by the “Soy Bomb Guy”.

While singing Love Sick, artist Michael Portnoy removed his shirt to reveal the words painted on his chest.

He danced robotically, much to the confusion of onlookers.

Michael later said he used those words because soy represents dense, nourishing life and he wanted art to represent “dense, transformative, explosive life.”

He was on stage for 35 seconds before being removed by security guards.

Kesha 2018


Kesha’s prayer performance was absolutely sensational (Image: FilmMagic/Jeff Kravitz)

There was not a dry eye in the house or at home when Kesha performed Praying in 2018.

Written in the midst of Kesha’s legal battle with Doctor Luke, the power ballad was joined by some of the biggest artists on stage to deliver an incredible performance.

Janelle Monae opened the performance with a speech that said, “The time has come for wage inequality, the time for discrimination, the time for harassment of any kind, the time for abuse of power.”

Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day, Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha and Julia Michaels then took the stage for a heartbreaking performance of the powerful song, with the women sharing a group hug afterwards.

Beyonce 2017


Beyoncé will forever be the queen (Picture: CBS)

It would be rude not to end with Beyoncé after all those legendary Grammys moments she so kindly gave us.

The superstar performed Love Drought and Sandcastles in 2017 and looked and sounded every inch the goddess she is.

Wearing a jeweled gold dress and crown, she made her baby bump debut on TV.

Bey ended the performance by reading poetry from Warsan Shire, saying, “If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious. 1,000 girls raise their arms. Do you remember your birth?’

The nine-minute set was a real moment of celebration that left everyone in awe and in no doubt that Beyoncé is one of the greatest entertainers.

Who is performing in 2022?

We’re hoping for more memorable moments at the 2022 Grammys with performances from J Balvin, Brothers Osborne, HER, John Legend and Silk Sonic.

Jon Batiste, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile and Carrie Underwood will also perform individually, while Maverick City Music, Aymée Nuviola and Billy Strings will appear in special segments.

The Grammys will also be hosting a special commemoration of Stephen Sondheim, which will feature Cynthia Erivo Leslie Odom, Jr., Ben Platt and Rachel Zegler.

The Grammys air this Sunday.

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US showbiz Grammys: The Greatest and Most Controversial Performances in History

Ryan Sederquist

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