With tons of musicians scheduled to appear onstage at the 56th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday (Jan. 26), we’re expecting great performances and once-in-a-lifetime collaborations. But this year’s event has a lot to live up to, especially considering the unforgettable performances we’ve seen this millennium so far. Before this year’s crop of nominees take the stage, join us in counting down the 10 best GRAMMY performances from 2000-2013.
|10. Adele Returns, 2012
After a throat surgery that threatened her career and sidelined her for the better half of what should have been a victorious, tour-heavy 2011, Adele’s made her triumphant return on music’s biggest stage. To make sure the audience knew she was A-OK, she sang the fist few bars of her smash single “Rolling in the Deep” a cappella. Fans everywhere let out a collective sigh of relief.
|9. Gorillaz, Madonna & De La Soul, 2006
The 48th GRAMMYs started off as no other GRAMMYs had before — with an opening band that wasn’t even three-dimensional. Animated act Gorillaz took to the stage to perform the Record of the Year-nominated “Feel Good Inc.,” joined briefly by the real De La Soul and a hologram of Madonna. But when the real Madge appeared onstage moments later to perform her 2005 hit “Hung Up,” with its sexy dancing and ABBA samples, the GRAMMY crowd truly let loose.
|8. Radiohead & the USC Marching Band, 2009
Radiohead may have shunned the music industry in 2007 when it delivered “In Rainbows” straight to fans using a pay-what-you-want online download, but the band proved it could still play to the Academy (literally) at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards. Joined by the USC Marching Band, Thom Yorke and co. performed a rendition of “15 Step” that was so rousing, even the frontman shared some of his twitchy dance moves. Eat your heart out, Fleetwood Mac.
|7. Kanye West & Daft Punk, 2008
When Kanye West released “Stronger” as a single in 2007, it seemed written in the stars that the rapper and Daft Punk, who is sampled on the tune, would join forces and perform together. At 2008’s 50th GRAMMYs, that’s exactly what happened. Note to the Black Eyed Peas: THIS is how you do a light show!
|6. Lady Gaga & Elton John, 2010
Lady Gaga’s performance at the 52nd GRAMMY Awards was classic not only for its over-the-top theatrics, but for Elton John’s appearance on “Speechless” and the duo’s duet on Elton’s classic “Your Song.” The best part? The conjoined mega-piano Gaga and Elton played on, not to mention the pair’s matching rhinestone glasses.
|5. T.I., Jay-Z, M.I.A., Lil Wayne & Kanye, 2009
It was as though a new rap supergroup (“the rap pack” seems fitting) formed at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards, when all facets of hip-hop joined forces for one killer performance of T.I. and Jay-Z’s “Swagga Like Us.” Lil Wayne and Kanye West held their own as usual, but it was a pregnant M.I.A. who stole the show in her sheer polka-dot dress. The fiesty diva didn’t just look like she was about to pop — she actually gave birth three days later.
|4. Melissa Etheridge & Joss Stone, 2005
Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone may seem like an unlikely pairing, but when you throw Janis Joplin into the equation, it makes perfect sense. Both songstresses possess their own unpolished soulfulness and rock stylings, which proved to be a powerful match in a tribute to Joplin at the 2005 GRAMMYs. Stone started off with “Cry Baby” before being joined by Etheridge, who triumphantly made a return to the stage after being diagnosed with breast cancer one year earlier.
|3. Jennifer Hudson’s Whitney Houston Tribute, 2012
Whitney Houston’s untimely death on the eve of the GRAMMYs flipped both the mood and the plans of a show that’s planned extensively months in advance. How would they address the icon’s passing? Who would eulogize her in song with less than a day to prepare for such a behemoth task? Jennifer Hudson stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. J.Hud, herself a GRAMMY-winning singer and a major Whitney Houston fan, performed a near flawless rendition of Whitney’s signature song, “I Will Always Love You.”
|2. Eminem & Elton John, 2001
Eminem infuriated the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation with the homophobia-tinged lyrics on his 2000 album “The Marshall Mathers LP,” and the organization protested the 2001 GRAMMYs because of his involvement. But gay activist Elton John crossed the picket lines and joined Em’s performance of “Stan” at the ceremony in a move that was musically powerful, as well as political.
|1. P!nk, 2010
For the 52nd GRAMMY Awards, P!nk took a page from Cirque Du Soleil’s playbook to give a graceful, show-stopping performance of aerial, acrobatic and vocal brilliance. P!nk may not have walked away with any trophies that night, but thanks to her high-flying rendition of “Glitter in the Air,” she was the artist everyone was talking about come Monday morning.