10 Epic Moments Artists OWNED the Grammys on TV

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Feb 4, 2024

Posted By Tracy Fuller

The Grammys, the pinnacle of musical recognition, is a platform where artists showcase their talent and captivate audiences worldwide. While some may argue that the Grammys play it safe with their nominations and performances, there have been moments when artists broke free from the mold and delivered electrifying, boundary-pushing performances that left a lasting impact. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and highlight 10 times artists completely rocked the Grammys on mainstream TV.

1. Rick James, “Give It to Me Baby” (1982)

Rick James, the funk icon, may not have taken home any Grammys that night, but his performance of “Give It to Me Baby” stole the show. With his irresistible exuberance and flashy stage presence, James had viewers hooked from the moment he stepped on stage. The combination of disco gaudiness, fierce horns, piercing guitar work, and energetic singing created an intoxicatingly dynamic segment. When James and his band ventured into the crowd, the performance turned into an out-and-out party with full spectator participation.

2. Chuck Berry, George Thorogood + Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Maybellene” + “Roll Over Beethoven” (1984)

Three guitar legends, Chuck Berry, George Thorogood, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, came together for a legendary performance at the Grammys in 1984. Berry, honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award that night, showcased his signature “duck walk” and delivered an electrifying rendition of “Maybellene.” Thorogood and Vaughan joined him on stage, culminating in an unforgettable guitar battle and a powerful performance of “Roll Over Beethoven.” It was an epic moment that showcased the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.

3. Metallica, “One” (1989)

The 1989 Grammys will forever be remembered for the controversy surrounding Jethro Tull’s victory over Metallica for the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording award. Despite the disappointment, Metallica’s live performance of “One” proved why they deserved the accolade. Their raw and intense rendition of the song set a new benchmark for the Grammys’ wild side. Host Billy Crystal’s ironic comment about Metallica representing the rebellious essence of rock ‘n’ roll added an extra layer of excitement to the performance.

4. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl + More, “London Calling” (2003)

In 2003, rock icons Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and others paid tribute to Joe Strummer, the late co-founder of The Clash, by performing a cover of the band’s iconic song “London Calling.” The stage was set with flashing lights, pictures of Strummer, British flags, and flying planes, creating a thematic backdrop for this punk rock anthem. The heartfelt performance, filled with biting enthusiasm, received a standing ovation from the audience.

5. Green Day, “American Idiot” (2005)

Green Day’s album “American Idiot” took the world by storm, and their performance of the title track at the 2005 Grammy Awards was nothing short of explosive. Adorned in their album-specific attire and accompanied by political iconography, pyrotechnics, and other theatrical elements, Green Day commanded the stage from start to finish. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s interaction with the audience added to the electric atmosphere, leaving viewers in awe.

6. Linkin Park, Jay-Z + Paul McCartney, “Numb/Encore” + “Yesterday” (2006)

The collaboration between Linkin Park and Jay-Z on the song “Numb/Encore” was a groundbreaking moment in rock and rap history. Their performance at the Grammy Awards in 2006 showcased the fusion of genres and the power of collaboration. The addition of Paul McCartney for a duet on “Yesterday” elevated the performance to another level. The magnitude of this moment left a lasting impression on both the audience and the music industry.

7. Foo Fighters, John Paul Jones + Ann Marie Calhoun, “The Pretender” (2008)

The Foo Fighters’ performance of “The Pretender” at the 50th Grammy Awards was a masterclass in rock energy. With the addition of renowned violinist Ann Marie Calhoun and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, the band created a unique rendition of their hit song. The combination of Grohl’s fiery stage presence, Calhoun’s eclectic violin skills, and Jones’ bass and keyboard contributions made this performance one of the most remarkable and distinctive moments of the night.

8. Beyoncé, “Drunk in Love” (2014)

Beyoncé’s mesmerizing performance of “Drunk in Love” at the 2014 Grammys left the audience in awe. With a captivating stage setup, flawless choreography, and her undeniable charisma, Beyoncé showcased her unparalleled talent as a performer. The sultry duet with her husband, Jay-Z, added an extra layer of intimacy and chemistry to the performance, making it a standout moment of the night.

9. Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker the Berry” + “Alright” (2016)

Kendrick Lamar’s politically charged and thought-provoking performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards was a testament to his artistry and ability to push boundaries. With a powerful medley of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright,” Lamar delivered a message of resilience and empowerment. The striking visuals, energetic choreography, and intense delivery captivated the audience and solidified Lamar’s status as one of the most influential voices in contemporary music.

10. Prince Tribute with Bruno Mars, “Let’s Go Crazy” (2017)

The 2017 Grammy Awards paid tribute to the late Prince with a performance by Bruno Mars. Taking the stage in a purple suit reminiscent of Prince’s iconic style, Mars delivered a high-energy rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy.” With his infectious charisma and impressive vocal range, Mars channeled the spirit of Prince and created a moment of pure musical magic. The audience couldn’t help but dance and sing along, honoring the legendary artist in the best way possible.


Metallica and Lady Gaga: A Surprising Collaboration that Rocked the Grammys

Many Metallica fans were probably confused – if not outright disappointed – when they learned that the quartet would be playing the 59th Grammy Awards with Lady Gaga. However, their opinion surely changed once they realized that she could hold her own as the thrash kings played “Moth Into Flame” from Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (which was nominated for Best Rock Album).

These Grammy performances are just a glimpse into the moments when artists defied expectations and brought an electrifying energy to the Grammys stage. From rock legends to contemporary icons, these performances showcased the power of music to captivate, inspire, and push boundaries. The Grammys may have its fair share of controversies and safe choices, but these unforgettable moments prove that when artists take risks and let their creativity shine, they can truly rock the mainstream TV.


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