10 of the Most Unforgettable Grammy Moments, From Pink Taking Flight to Kesha’s Comeback (VIDEO)
After a pandemic-related delay, music’s biggest night is nearly here. The 63rd Grammy Awards — originally scheduled for January — air live Sunday, March 14, on CBS. Music fans should expect the unexpected, as the folks behind the Grammys itself didn’t even seem to know what things would look like.
But the Grammys have always been unpredictable, even when the stars could gather in one room. Here, 10 of the most memorable moments in Grammys history — highlights and lowlights.
63rd Grammy Awards, Sunday, March 14, 8/7c, CBS and Paramount+
1998: Ol’ Dirty Bastard Pulls a Kanye Before Kanye
Long before Kanye West crashed Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, another rapper ambushed a folksy singer’s moment in the spotlight. This time, it was Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard interrupting Shawn Colvin’s Song of the Year speech to complain about his hip-hop collective’s Best Rap Album loss that night.
“Wu-Tang is for the children!” ODB told the crowd.
(It was a big year for Grammy Awards stage-crashers: A prankster stole the spotlight during Bob Dylan’s performance during the 1998 show, as well.)
2000: Jennifer Lopez Wears ‘The Dress’
Jennifer Lopez, who had just released her debut album the previous year, caught the world’s attention with her barely-there Versace dress at the 2000 Grammys, seemingly held together by double-sided tape and a prayer. (“Jennifer, this is the first time in five or six years that I am sure nobody is looking at me,” X-Files star David Duchovny quipped as they presented Best R&B Album together.)
2001: Elton John & Eminem Perform Together
In what surely was due to a Crisis PR team thinking fast, Elton John did a duet with Eminem during the rapper’s performance of his track “Stan” at the 2001 Grammys during a period he was facing backlash for homophobic lyrics.
2002: Artists Serenade a Grieving New York City
For the first Grammys ceremony after the events of September 11, 2011, Alan Jackson performed his song “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which he wrote as a response to that day’s terrorism attacks. Tony Bennett and Billy Joel performed “New York State of Mind” in honor of the Big Apple. Rockers U2 also performed “Walk On” as a show of resilience.
2010: Pink Takes Flight
Audience members were amazed — and perhaps damp — after a drenched Pink spun from aerial silks high above the crowd while singing “Glitter in the Air” at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. (Four years later, she performed her song “Try” at the 2014 Grammys while twirling from even narrower strips of fabric.)
2011: Lady Gaga Emerges From a Giant Egg
Lady Gaga knows how to make an entrance. Mother Monster’s most dramatic red carpet moment yet came during the 2011 Grammys, where she was paraded into Los Angeles’ Staples Center in a giant egg. The pop star later said on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show that she was “in there for about 72 hours, and it was a very creative experience.”
2012: Jennifer Hudson Honors Whitney Houston
With the 2012 Grammys coming just a day after Whitney Houston’s death, producers found a fitting way to honor the singer known as The Voice: They enlisted Jennifer Hudson to belt out Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” during the show. The American Idol alum nailed the performance, of course, though her grief was palpable.
2014: Queen Latifah Marries 33 Couples
As Macklemore & Lewis and Mary Lambert performed their LGBTQ-embracing hit “Same Love” — with Madonna and Trombone Shorty joining them on stage — Queen Latifah officiated the live weddings of 33 tearful same-sex couples standing in the aisles of the Staples Center.
2017: Adele Restarts Her George Michael Tribute
Adele suffered through audio issues during her 2016 Grammys performance, but she asked for a do-over when the same thing happened the following year as she sang George Michael’s “Fastlove” in memory of the latter pop star. “I’m sorry, I can’t mess this up for him,” the Brit said as she called the performance to a halt, and as the appreciative audience cheered her on.
2018: Kesha Makes a Comeback
After Kesha’s protracted legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, who she accused of sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, allegations he has denied, the pop star hit the Grammys stage the following year to sing her anthem “Praying.” (She had released her first album in five years in 2017.) With backup vocals from singers like Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha, and Cyndi Lauper, the performance was an emblematic moment for the #MeToo movement.