Top 20 Billboard Live Performances of 2017 with Rita Ora, Dashboard Confessional, Ashanti & More: Watch

It has been a year of expansion for Billboard Live -- Billboard’s livestreaming artist showcase series -- as the second year came to a close. Along the way we’ve seen many remarkable performances that have pushed the boundaries of the required stripped-down, acoustic setting and connected with thousands of audience members across the globe.      

Most importantly, the series has been a platform for some of the music industry’s finest rising talents, niche genre artists, and perennial pop and rock figures in mainstream music, and we’re happy to present a mix of all three in our Top 20 Billboard Live performances of 2017. The order is based on viewership as of Dec. 18, but these numbers are bound to change as the videos continue to live on Billboard’s Facebook page here with an always expanding archive of new performances coming in the new year.    

20. William Patrick Corgan

The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan delivered a special performance on the release day of his second solo album -- and first as William Patrick Corgan -- Ogilala that included lead single “Aeronaut” as well as “The Long Goodbye” and "Half-Life of an Autodidact." The Billboard Live setting was well-suited for the songs that producer Rick Rubin notably stripped down to just an acoustic guitar and Corgan’s vocals. The spellbinding set is followed by a revelatory interview where Corgan casually drops gems about hearing Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from producer Butch Vig, David Bowie’s influence on the opening track “Zowie” and the silent film companion piece Pillbox.   

19. The Script

Irish rock group The Script were extremely generous with their catalogue by including one crowd-pleasing tune from four of their five albums, including breakout hit “Breakeven,” and singles “For The First Time” and “Hall Of Fame.” The newest track in the set, “Rain” from their latest album Freedom Child, was a welcome respite as the performance happened to occur on a particularly gloomy, rainy day in New York.

18. First Aid Kit

Swedish sibling duo First Aid Kit gave an understated performance with just two vocals and an acoustic guitar in true singer-songwriter fashion reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel. Johanna and Klara S√∂derberg have an affecting live performance that first caught the attention of Bright EyesConor Oberst and Mike Mogis, and their ability to command a room with a few simple tools is demonstrated by the awed silence as they perform their new single “It’s A Shame” and 2014 hit “My Silver Lining.”

17. Rita Ora

When it comes to Rita Ora, expect the unexpected. The British singer began her session with the recent single “Your Song,” but before the song fades out she turns it into an improvised interpolation of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.” After the bombshell moment, Ora proudly proclaims that she knew the two songs had a similar chord structure, but curiously notes that this is also true for songs by Spice Girls, TLC and a host of others. As the single gets comfortable in her live set, the potential for more surprises is nearly endless.

16. SOJA

The reggae rock group SOJA appeared on Billboard Live only days before their latest album Poetry In Motion was released and they offered quite a preview with album opener “Moving Stones,” “Fire In The Sky,” and anti-consumerism anthem “More.” This visit gets special recognition for fitting the most band members on stage with a eight-piece group featuring brass, synths, bongos and a makeshift drum kit that lead singer Jacob Hemphill calls “the trash can.”

15. Kasabian

English rockers Kasabian stopped by in the midst of the North American tour for their sixth album For Crying Out Loud, and the band could not be more in their element with a set that moves with the nonchalance of seasoned vets. Kicking off with the first single “You’re In Love With A Psycho,” the band is sprightly in the acoustic setting with vocalist Tom Meighan approaching every song with a grin while the jocular band dynamics are on full display in between songs.

14. Lifehouse

In a session that comes courtesy of 48 hours without sleep, according to band, Los Angeles quartet Lifehouse made it through the promotion of their 2017 Greatest Hits album for a special performance that highlighted their reign in the mid-00’s on the charts. The scorching set included “You and Me” which peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100 in 2005, and their breakthrough hit “Hanging By A Moment,” which reached No. 2 in 2001, as well as the early deep cut “Somewhere In Between.”

13. Charlotte Cardin

Montreal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin first broke out as a finalist on Canada’s iteration of The Voice in 2013, but she’s showing early signs of crossover potential with one of the highest viewed Billboard Live sessions this year. Cardin offered an early listen of the title track from her second EP Main Girl that dropped a month later, along with two self-described love songs in “Like It Doesn’t Hurt” and “Dirty Dirty” that are equally provocative and biting.

12. Dashboard Confessional

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba is known for his heart-on-a-sleeve sensibilities, and he leaves no doubt that those instincts are still intact starting with his admission of being more “terrified” of playing in the intimate office setting compared to an audience of thousands. Carrabba’s solo set includes D.C. staples like “Vindicated” and “Hands Down” along with the surprising deep cut “As Lovers Go.” With a new single out and their first album in eight years on the way, it’s nice to take a look back before Carrabba and Co. move forward on their massive return in 2018.

11. LANY

Indie-pop trio LANY dropped by the same week that their self-titled debut album premiered at No. 32 on the Billboard 200, which might explain why the group performs with such assured confidence. The sparse production lends itself to songs like “The Breakup” and “ILYSB,” showcasing singer and keyboardist Paul Jason Klein’s range and band’s delicate balance of 80’s R&B and modern pop.

10. Dropkick Murphys

The American Celtic punk rock group Dropkick Murphys visited Billboard HQ on the day their ninth album 11 Short Stories dropped in January, but this performance lived a second life online once Saint Patrick’s Day rolled around for the raucous vibes that only an American Irish band can provide. The six-piece from Quincy, Mass. pounds through four new tracks with powerhouse dual vocals in a stripped-down setting that almost cannot contain the energy.

9. Grace VanderWaal

The prodigious Grace VanderWaal has charmed audiences since her appearance -- and eventual win -- on America's Got Talent in 2016, and the 13-year-old’s quick-wit and amiable personality are on full display here. Billboard’s Women In Music Rising Star recipient performs the first single, “Moonlight,” off her debut album Just The Beginning that arrived in Nov., followed by a cover of comedienne Heather Anne Campbell’s “Everyone Is Lonely” that VanderWaal selected after a long binge session on YouTube. It’s a darkly comedic tune that’s best suited for a ukulele and Vanderwaal’s sweetly sincere delivery, which makes this performance so uniquely hers.

8. Hanson

The three Oklahoma brothers have grown up into quite the veterans as they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a band (and 20th anniversary since their quadruple-platinum debut Middle of Nowhere). Their live set includes a new song “I Was Born” from their 2017 Greatest Hits album along with the massive 1997 hit “MMMBop” and “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’” from their 2010 album Shout It Out. The band showed off their well-honed harmonies and affable attitudes, and later touched on their year-long tour and their longtime status as independent artists in a subsequent interview.

7. Ashanti

Bonafide hit-maker Ashanti has a resume that practically warrants her own Billboard Live residency, but she gave us the next best thing during her November session with a medley that included two Ja Rule collabs “Always On Time” and “Mesmerize,” Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv,” and several more from her invincible early-aughts stage. She ended the performance with a little from the present and past on latest single “Say Less” with Ty Dolla $ign and The Notorious B.I.G. remix of “Foolish” from her debut album. You can’t help but want more when she delivers the closing line “and another one.”

6. Tom Chaplin

English singer-songwriter and Keane frontman Tom Chaplin struck out on his own in 2016 with his first solo record The Wave, but the links to his past are strong as he began his set with the delightful “Somewhere Only We Know” from Keane’s 2004 debut. Accompanied with keys, strings, and a snare, Chaplin followed up with a pair of new tracks “Quicksand” and “Hardened Heart” while sharing personal insights on the album like his past struggle with drug addiction and becoming a father.

5. Celtic Thunder

The Irish quintet Celtic Thunder took Saint Patrick’s Day by storm with a slew of hits including “The Galway Girl” and “Ireland’s Call,” which the band proudly proclaimed as the one song where they don their traditional kilts. The 15-time World Albums chart-toppers also tipped their hat to a fellow Irish group familiar with the Billboard charts by finishing their set with U2’s classic “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

4. Nickelback

Billboard's #7 Top Artist of the Decade Nickelback delivered a full throttle performance with only half the Canadian rock band as singer Chad Kroeger and guitarist Ryan Peake flawlessly unleashed the latest single “Song On Fire” after playing it “about 900 times on The Today Show,” according to Kroeger. The pair stuck around for a career-spanning interview that touched on the band’s development of their ninth album Feed The Machine, breaking into the U.K. with “Rockstar,” and their inimitable live experience.

3. Sleeping With Sirens

Pop-punk mainstays Sleeping With Sirens stopped by Billboard HQ only a week after the lead single “Legends” dropped from their fifth studio album Gossip. Although there weren’t any other new songs on the setlist -- the album didn’t arrive until Sept. -- the band made it a special acoustic performance with “The Strays” from 2015’s Madness and a cover of Sublime’s “Santeria” that’s become a fan favorite since it was included in their 2016  Live and Unplugged album.

2. Hillsong United

The Australian collective Hillsong United spread their message with stirring harmonies and genuine purpose that gave this performance a communal, choral quality unlike any others this year. Performing the title track and lead single from their fifth album Wonder, the band went on to share inspiration behind the record, clarify the correct pronunciation of the album name with an Australian accent, and vocalist Taya Smith answers the question “What happened to your hair?”

1. Anitta

If the growing interest in South and Latin American music wasn’t already apparent in 2017, the proof is in the numbers. Brazilian singer Anitta rocketed to the top of our Billboard Live series on the heels of two high profile crossover collaborations with Swedish DJ Alesso on “Is That For Me” and trusted Justin Bieber songwriter Poo Bear on “Will I See You.” The electronic dance tracks get the full acoustic experience here, isolating Anitta’s vocals and proving why she was one of the most sought-after features this year.

Billboard Year in Music 2017


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