10 Best Grammy Performances
With the 56th annual Grammy Awards right around the corner, now is as good a time as any to look back at the countless stellar Grammy performances we’ve been treated to over the years. Below are our picks for the 10 Best Grammy Performances — an all-time list that ranges from Radiohead and Green Day to the White Stripes and beyond. Did your favorites make this list? Watch each Grammy performance clip below — then let us know if you agree with our selections. And don’t forget to tune in on Sunday, Jan. 26, to see which new performances we should add to this list.
Beck, ‘Where It’s At’ (1997)
Beck showed everybody ‘Where It’s At’ with his performance of this ‘Odelay’ jam at the 1997 Awards. Immediately following his Grammy close-up, Beck won Best Male Rock Vocal Performance honors for the song. ‘Odelay’ was also nominated for the Best Album Grammy, but it lost to Celine Dion’s ‘Falling Into You.’
U2 and Mary J Blige, ‘One’ (2006)
These Irish rockers made a wise choice when they teamed with an American R&B luminary for a revamped version of their timeless ballad ‘One.’ Bono and Mary J emphasized vocal acrobatics over the original’s moody grandeur, but both turned in epic performances nonetheless, easily making our list of the Best Grammy Performances.
Green Day, ‘American Idiot’ (2005)
“Instead of fading away, they’ve grown up and released a concept album with a novel concept: all the songs are good,” director Quentin Tarantino says during his introduction of Green Day’s 2005 Grammy performance of ‘American Idiot,’ and his statement would prove prophetic, as Green Day took home Best Rock Album honors later in the evening.
Joe Strummer Tribute (Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Kanal from No Doubt) (2003)
What do Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, and Tony Kanal from No Doubt have in common? They all dig punk rock, and following the 2002 death of Clash frontman Joe Strummer, they joined forces to honor the late icon with an all-star run-through of ‘London Calling.’ Now, the Grammys are the type of commercialized event the Clash probably would have avoided, but it’s worth noting that on the night of the tribute, the band won its first-ever gramophone statue, as ‘Westway to the World’ snagged Best Long Form Music Video honors.
Smashing Pumpkins, ‘1979’ (1997)
The Pumpkins were near the peak of their powers in 1997, still touring behind the sprawling double album ‘Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness’ when they hit the Grammys stage to perform ‘1979,’ the disc’s second single and the only in the band’s career to top the Alternative Songs chart.
Adele, ‘Someone Like You’ (2012)
Adele certainly turned heads at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Not only did she give a stunning comeback performance of ‘Someone Like You’ following her recovery from throat microsurgery, but she won all six awards she was nominated for, including Record and Album of the Year.
Coldplay, ‘Politik’ (with orchestra) (2003)
A year after winning Best Alternative Album at the 2002 ceremony for their debut, ‘Parachutes,’ Coldplay returned to perform at the Grammys for the first time. Accompanied by a full orchestra, they turned in a haunting performance of ‘Politik’ from ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head,’ which earned the band Best Alternative Album honors for the second year in a row.
White Stripes, ‘Seven Nation Army’ (2004)
Throughout the mid-’00s, the Stripes were a virtual lock to win Best Alternative Album at the Grammys. All they had to do was release an album, and it would win. It happened with three straight records (2004’s ‘Elephant,’ 2006’s ‘Get Behind Me Satan and 2008’s ‘Icky Thump’), and in 2002, the Stripes also turned in a scorching version of ‘Seven Nation Army,’ still their signature tune.
Radiohead, ’15 Step’ (2009)
Taking a page from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk,’ Radiohead recruited the USC marching band to help reproduce the complex polyrhythms featured in ’15 Step,’ the lead track from their ‘In Rainbows’ album. The disc won the Grammy for — you guessed it — Best Alternative Album, a category Radiohead has won a record-tying three times over the course of seven nominations.
Gnarls Barkley, ‘Crazy’ (2007)
Remember all those brilliantly bizarre costumes that producer Danger Mouse and rapper Cee Lo Green used to wear when performing as Gnarls Barkley? They opted for pilot outfits for their 2007 appearance at the Grammys, where they performed ‘Crazy,’ the breakout single from their 2006 debut album, ‘St. Elsewhere,’ which won Best Alternative Album honors.