Every Grammys Performance Ranked, From Gaga and Sam Smith to Kesha’s Jaw-Dropping Number
The Recording Academy seemed to pull out all the stops for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, held in New York City for the first time in 15 years. As the night’s host, James Corden, told us at the ceremony’s beginning, it’s the most diverse roster of nominees in history (with the least diverse host). Always a crapshoot when it comes to the Grammys performance lineup, we found this year’s ceremony to be rather bearable!
Here’s our ranking of every Grammys performance from this year’s ceremony:
18. U2 — “Get Out of Your Own Way”
Is it ageist to beg U2 to just pack it up and stop? Yes, The Joshua Tree was a groundbreaking album 40 years ago (we guess), but trotting out Bono and The Edge as if they’re rock ‘n’ roll godsends has gotten old rather fast. Between Rolling Stone magazine and the Grammys, we can’t get rid of ’em!
17. Sting and Shaggy — “Englishman in New York”
Why on God’s Green Earth were we forced to watch this? What a snooze.
16. Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Eric Church — “Tears in Heaven”
This Grammys performance was in honor of those we lost during last October’s Las Vegas shooting, which happened during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. (And all four artists onstage were performers during that weekend.) While the sentiment is obviously a special one, we couldn’t help but be turned off by the song choice. Ugh.
15. Sam Smith — “Pray”
The song is a solid Sam Smith track, if that’s your thing, but we couldn’t help but think two things: First, it’s practically a tired cliché at this point to have a white pop star backed up by a gospel choir. Next. And second, what the hell was he wearing? (For those who didn’t watch, it was a light grey pajama-looking set, with a pop of olive green — topped by a white trench coat.) He looked like a doctor who’d been woken from bed so threw on his lab coat and hightailed it to the awards.
14. Pink — “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”
She usually gives us serious production value. I mean, we last saw her performing on the side of a building. But this Grammys performance was the opposite of that, with just her, sporting some super casual denim and a Flashdance-style off-the-shoulder top. Unfortunately it was a bit too casual for our liking, and the song’s a bit of a snooze, too. What we wouldn’t have given to see something more like this!
13. Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris — “Wildflowers”
It was the song that opened the “In Memoriam” segment of the night, and the song itself is a lesser-known track by classic rock legend Tom Petty. Which is what sparks our question: “Why pick such an obscure track by a man who had dozens of beloved singles?” Boo.
12. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee — “Despacito”
At this point we’d be fine if we never heard this song again. Those backup dancers, most of whom looked straight outta Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, came off as kinda cheap. This Grammys performance probably would have appeared on the very bottom of our ranking if it hadn’t been so kind as to make it Bieber-less. Thanks for that, guys.
11. DJ Khaled with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller — “Wild Thoughts”
The song is another victim of oversaturation, and we’d be happy to never it again. And as completely obnoxious as DJ Khaled is, consistently shouting his name and other lame bon mots into the microphone, Rihanna was amazing as ever.
10. Childish Gambino — “Terrified”
Take note, Sam Smith. This is how you rock the color white. We particularly loved how nonchalant Atlanta actor Donald Glover was in front of his four-piece band. His hand barely ever left his pocket.
9. Little Big Town — “Better Man”
We didn’t know Taylor Swift had written the song, and we still don’t know why she gave it up. It’s a solid pop number, and while we aren’t super familiar with Little Big Town, they paid it justice.
8. SZA — “Broken Clocks”
She was our vote for this year’s Best New Artist category, and though she didn’t take it home, she at least delivered a great performance of one of her lesser-known songs. We would have rather seen her do “Love Galore,” but we’ll take it.
7. Elton John with Miley Cyrus — “Tiny Dancer”
We aren’t really sure why Anna Kendrick got the honor of introducing the musical genius — who recently announced his final tour — and the Pitch Perfect actress mispronounced the last name of longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin, but the performance was good. Elton was sporting a sparkly jacket, his signature crazy glasses and oversized pears, and Miley was looking much more demure than usual in a gorgeous fuchsia dress.
6. Ben Platt — “Somewhere” / Patti Lupone — “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”
Oddly enough, one of the night’s real standout performances wasn’t by musicians but by Broadway’s finest. As part of a “Salute to Broadway Legends,” Dear Evan Hansen star Ben Platt treated the crowd to a perfectly sung “Somewhere” (from West Side Story), after which the diva herself came out and treated us to Evita‘s big hit. Definitely a ‘wow moment,’ complete with a standing O.
5. Logic with Alessia Cara and Khalid — “1-800-273-8255”
We may not be huge fans of the song, but we’ve got to acknowledge the message. It’s an anti-suicide song that quite literally shares its name with the toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. And the artists did it justice, particularly once the song was over when Logic regaled the audience with a message of hope for immigrants and railed against Donald Trump’s calling Haiti and African nations “shitholes.” Fuck you, Donald Trump!
4. Lady Gaga — “Joanne” / “Million Reasons”
Dressed like a Swan Lake dancer in a voluminous gown, hair pulled back with winged eyes, Gaga gave a super strong performance alongside her Joanne producer Mark Ronson. The piano covered in giant angel wings and the feathered piano bench were a nice touch. We also loved her mention of “Time’s Up” between the two songs. And that big note towards the end — gorgeous!
3. Bruno Mars and Cardi B — “Finesse”
We wish every Grammys performance had been as fun and upbeat as this one. Cardi B and Bruno Mars were sporting their best vintage Cross Colors gear, offering up a tribute to In Living Color just like the music video. And Mars served up the best choreography of the night. He may be pushing four feet-tall, but the guy can dance!
2. Kendrick Lamar — “XXX.” / “DNA” / “King’s Dead”
What an opening! The music industry’s current favorite rapper opened the 2018 Grammys with a triptych of songs that left our mouths agape. (Thankfully that short little bit featuring U2 was … short.) His Grammys performance featured a slew of black soldiers, pyrotechnics and — best of all — welcomed interruptions by comedy legend Dave Chappelle.
1. Kesha with Cyndi Lauper, Camilla Cabello, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha and Julia Michaels — “Praying”
As the moment of the night, introduced brilliantly by Janelle Monae giving a nod to the Time’s Up movement, it was amazing to see such a brilliant (and diverse) roster of powerful female artists share the stage.
Kesha’s vocals weren’t her best, no doubt, but the raw power in her performance of a song to her accuser — himself a member of the Recording Academy — was palpable, giving viewers across the country a case of full-body shivers.