warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Grammys 2014: Best And Worst Performances Of All Time

Jillian Morabito |
January 23, 2014 | 2:09 p.m. PST

Associate Entertainment Editor

Every year, audiences are overwhelmed by the caliber of the Grammys' performances and every year, most blow us away. However, some manage to dissappoint as well. Here are some astounding (and astoundingly awful) performances. 

Here's to the best...

2008: Tina Turner and Beyonce

When divas are “rolling on the river,” it is bound to be one of the best performances of all time. Two iconic “queens” of the music business teamed up at the 2008 Grammy Awards in a memorable rendition of “Proud Mary.” Okay, so this song was mostly Tina’s spotlight (and to show she looks 20 years younger than her age). However, Beyonce got another chance to duet with the man known for rockin’ purple, Prince, at the 2004 Grammy Awards. 

2013’s “In Memoriam” Tribute

Perhaps one of the more underrated performances, the tribute to fallen musicians last year was perfect in both remembrance and musical pairings. It involved Mumford and Sons, Zac Brown Band, Elton John, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard performing “The Weight.” Though the tribute was specifically dedicated to The Band’s Levon Helm, it also honored Donna Summers, Dick Clark, Chuck Brown, as well as the children lost in Sandy Hook. If this performance doesn’t leave you with chills, I don’t know what will. 

2010: Lady Gaga and Elton John

Two superstars singing a duet seems to be a bit of a cliché, but watching Gaga and Elton do it is astounding to say the least. Especially when they sang “Your Song” and it makes you realize that the ballad hasn’t been so beautiful since you first heard it (which, let’s be real, was probably Ewan McGregor singing it in “Moulin Rouge”). They also perform “Poker Face: and “Speechless."

2005: James Brown and Usher

Before James Brown passed away, he performed one last time with Usher, someone who always looked to him for guidance and inspiration. With his red suit and infamous hair and moves, Brown proved for once and for all that he was “The Godfather of Soul.”

1993: Eric Clapton

Performing a song written for the death of his four-year-old son, Clapton did so perfectly. Audiences were brought to tears and deeply moved not only by the lyrics, but also the emotional performance. 

...And then the worst. 

2012: Nicki Minaj

There has perhaps not been a more disturbing and offensive performance in the history of the Grammys (or, possibly, any awards show) than what Minaj did this year. Simply put, it was an exorcism that was broadcasted to a national audience. With priests, criminals and naked people surrounding Minaj, it is no wonder why the performance caused uproar, criticism, and left many scratching their heads. Don’t even get us started with her voice. 


Every Year: Taylor Swift 

We get it: Taylor Swift is “cute” and “adorable to watch,” but have people not seen through the façade yet? Every Grammys performance she’s done has been either underwhelming (her “Little House on the Prairie” dress with “Mean,” shown below), a disgrace to music (i.e. Swift butchering poor Stevie Nicks), or just plain tasteless (her Harry Styles diss last year). Needless to say, it would be wonderful if she stayed away from music’s biggest stage for a few years. 

2004: OutKast

Granted, it is OutKast’s style to be a bit outlandish, and so this performance is a bit more explainable than others but at the same time, aliens? Really? Okay, so if you were in the audience listening to “Hey Ya” with the band’s energy, this probably would’ve been great. But to watch it on a screen at home, it was just a wee bit off the grid. 


2013’s Closing Performance

Yes, this did have big performers. Yes, this did include the host LL Cool J. Yes, it was nice to pay tribute to the late Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. With that being said, this performance by LL Cool J, Chuck D and Travis Barker was incoherent and seemed disorganized. Call it their style, but I’m pretty sure Yauch would’ve wanted his song covered perhaps in a more quality manner (perhaps without flaunting Mr. Cool J’s ego).


2009: Katy Perry

From the off-pitch vocals to the awkward ending, this performance was a mess and a half. Granted, this was Katy’s first Grammys so she may be graded on a learning curve but sorry Katy, you are not Carmen Miranda

Reach Associate Entertainment Editor Jillian Morabito here



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.