1. Whitney Houston, “Lover Man”/”All the Man That I Need” (1991): Houston rocked the stage at the Billboard Music Awards several times. Not surprisingly, her performances were all stellar, but this medley – considered by many fan sites to be among her best TV appearances – brought the house down.
2. Beyoncé, “Run the World (Girls)” (2011): While the concept of Beyoncé taking it to the next level is so established that it’s fodder for Saturday Night Live, this eye-popping performance broke the boundaries between live and virtual. Queen B danced with both dozens of real-life people and a digital army of Beyoncés. People still talk about it.
3. Metallica: “The Unforgiven II” (1997) After an only-in-Vegas introduction from Busta Rhymes and Wayne Newton, Metallica brought its unique brand of quiet storm to the 1997 show.
4. Justin Timberlake, “Cry Me a River” (2002): A string section, a battery of backing singers and a sweet leather jacket were all part of JT’s coming-of-age performance on what is arguably the best song from Justified.
5. Taylor Swift, “22” (2013): Like an OK Go video come to life, Swift kicked off last year’s awards with this masterpiece of tracking shots. Cameras followed her from backstage through production offices, onto a bike, into the arena and onto the stage, where she was joined by dozens of dancers, hundreds of balloons, sparklers and more for a legendary opening performance.