Top 10 Grammy Performances

Script by Owen Maxwell

And the award goes to... Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Performances at the Grammy Awards. For this list, we're looking at performances that went beyond the simple song and dance, and used the big stage to make it memorable through a mix of theatrics, musicianship and passion.

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Top 10 Grammy Performances

 
And the award goes to... Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Performances at the Grammy Awards.
 
For this list, we're looking at performances that went beyond the simple song and dance, and used the big stage to make it memorable through a mix of theatrics, musicianship and passion.
 
 

#10: Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl & Elvis Costello

“London Calling”
 
When a monumentally influential artist dies, it sends ripples through the music world, but it also unites people in the industry. When The Clash's Joe Strummer died, the punk world lost a giant, but when it came time to honour him the result was intense. With the ferocity of fellow Brit Elvis Costello, the youthful energy of Dave Grohl and passionate delivery by Bruce Springsteen, the performance had enough grit and attitude to make the late Strummer proud. Springsteen's appearance made the tribute all the more touching as he was both heavily inspired and admired by the late Strummer, making Springsteen the ideal artist to give this grandfather of punk a final send-off.
 
 

#9: Eric Clapton
“Tears In Heaven”

 
Most would take the Grammys as an opportunity to take a live show to the next level, but in a night full of bombastic performances it's the reserved ones that truly stand out. Letting the music speak for itself, Clapton and company sit solemnly, playing with the brutal sadness the song deserves. Clapton decidedly avoids any stage antics that would take away from the emotional weight of the song, especially considering the many preceding losses in Clapton's life that inspired it. Always the epitome of class, the tuxedo-clad Clapton nails every note and ends the song with a quick little bow, skipping the usual accolades – which although deserved would damage the effect of the performance.
 
 

#8: Beyoncé & Tina Turner
“Proud Mary”

 
It would be pretty hard to top a live performance dancing with your husband but a duet with your idol might just do the trick. After giving a tribute to all the talented women that inspired her career, Beyoncé introduces Turner as the magical woman who embodied everything they stood for. Returning the favour, Turner calls her back on stage to duet on "Proud Mary" with a contagious sense of fun flowing from the stage. Looking on like a proud mother, Turner belts her heart out as Beyoncé does all she can to impress her. Thanks to some epic dance moves and an over-the-top back-and-forth performance with the pair perfectly in sync from top to bottom, this showstopper was a perfect passing of the torch.
 
 
 
 
 

#7: Kanye West & Daft Punk
“Stronger” and “Hey Mama”

 
Say what you will about his ego, but when it comes to putting on a performance, few can hold a candle to Kanye West. West starts his set on a sombre note, performing a barebones rendition of "Hey Mama" in tribute to his recently deceased mother. After wiping away the tears West switches to party mode going right into "Stronger" but this version has a twist. Instead of just rapping over his original sample, West does one better getting the real Daft Punk to perform alongside him instead, with their tour pyramid along for the ride. The club-style neon lighting and West's glow-in-dark-inspired attire made this a complete package worthy of Grammy history.
 
 
 
 

 #6: Eminem & Elton John
“Stan”

 
Some collaborations don't have to make sense, they just work. Eminem's dark and disturbing "Stan" had enough story and visual lyrics alone to make it notable, but some artists are never satisfied. Eminem's performance mixes music video recreations with theatrics to make the song come to life in a whole new way. He doesn't stop there, though. At the first chorus, right where the Dido sample should come in, a curtain comes up revealing Elton John at the piano both playing the instrumental and singing the vocals. It made for a show-stopping performance from a collaboration that no one expected; outdoing the original song in one swoop.
 
 
 

#5: Adele
 “Rolling In The Deep”

 
If you have one of the most recognizable singles in decades, it's sometimes best to just give the crowd what they want. Hitting the stage in style, Adele turned back time and gave her performance like a classic crooner. Opening on a beautiful a cappella intro, the lights drop before revealing a full band and backup singers to fill out the sound on an already huge track. Adele stays centre-stage behind her mic stand the entire song but doesn't let that stop her from commanding the crowd and putting every ounce of emotion into the performance, nailing every note along the way.
 
 

#4: Radiohead
“15 Step”

 
It's impressive what some bands can do with access to just a little extra production value. When it came time to perform "15 Step," Radiohead didn't go for theatrics or parlour tricks to take their set to the next level, instead they decided to enhance the song itself. Enlisting the help of a college marching band for a drum-line, brass and additional vocals, they took a simple song and fleshed it out to make it something unbelievably brilliant. With some creepy yet hypnotic dance moves from Thom Yorke, impressive choreography by the already busy musicians and a set that kept the sound at the forefront, this performance let Radiohead show what they can do with some musical assistance.
 
 

#3: Kendrick Lamar
 “The Blacker The Berry”, “Alright”,” Untitled 3”


 
Kendrick Lamar is no stranger to shocking Grammy performances  so when he wanted to send a message across the country, he knew where to do it. When Lamar shuffled on stage in rags it was clear something distinctly different was happening. Lamar starts his medley in a prison scene chained along with his inmates and band playing from their cells, immediately making his message loud and clear. Telling the African-American story, the performance is blunt and visceral, going from prison to a tribal bonfire. Every line echoes with the pain in Lamar's heart and he spits each verse with reckless abandon, closing on a picture of Compton written on a map of Africa, leaving viewers with a lot to think about.
 
 
 

#2: Daft Punk feat. Stevie Wonder, Pharrell & Nile Rodgers
 “Get Lucky”

 
Daft Punk are about as mysterious as it comes, but it still seemed a little strange when they didn't show up on stage for their second TV performance ever. But after a groovy opening by Pharrell, Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers, the robots appear from behind the veil to carry the song into its next chorus, dropping samples from throughout their career along the way. The set switches to a party when they start mixing in Rodger's track "Le Freak" and Wonder's "Another Star," turning it into the most impassioned jam session between artists ever to see the stage. Thanks to the contagiously fun collaboration and musicianship, the track was one that got everyone dancing from Beyoncé to the Beatles.
 
 
 
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
 
Christina Aguilera, P!NK, Mya, Lil Kim
“Lady Marmalade”
 
 
 
The White Stripes
“Seven Nation Army/Death Letter”
 
 
 

#1: Michael Jackson
“ The Way You Make Me Feel/Man In The Mirror”

 
Leave it to the King of pop to deliver the best show the stage has seen for decades to come. Opening on his infamous dance moves to a swung version of "The Way You Make Me Feel," Jackson doesn't stop moving, using the entire stage, often all by himself. After a moonwalking solo that blows his fellow dancers out of the water, Jackson switches to a seemingly minimalist rendition of "Man In The Mirror." But when Michael arrives at the key-change, the song hits its climax as a full gospel choir joins in and Jackson delivers one last memorable moment, falling to his knees and belting out the remainder of this 10-minute-long epic, cementing him in Grammy history.




 
 
 
Do you agree with our list? What's your favourite Grammy performance? For more jaw-dropping top 10's published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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