VH1 Big Music in 2015: You Oughta Know hit Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood last night (Nov. 12), broadcasting live from a converted indoor track field.
Hosted by Spice Girls‘ Mel B, the two-hour concert featured rising artists who broke through in 2015 playing their signature hits. Okay, Miguel might not be a 2015 breakthrough artist — “Adorn” was everywhere in 2013 — but themed programming be damned, we’re not going to complain about a Miguel performance on the bill.
The New York crowd — people waited in line for hours outside for the chance to get in — was jumping with excitement throughout the night, and so was the evening’s host. “Honestly, if I wasn’t hosting it I’d be here watching it with my 16-year-old anyway, so it’s nice to be in the cut of it and celebrate the music and talent that’s out right now,” Mel B told Billboard prior to the performance.
While the night featured solid-to-stellar performances from Miguel, Tori Kelly, Hozier, Ella Henderson, George Ezra, Tori Kelly, James Bay, Nate Ruess, Rachel Platten, Elle King and X Ambassadors, a few moments stood out. Here’s our 5 favorites.
Honorable Mention: Zig-a-Zag-Ahhhh Gets Pushed Real Good
Mel B wasn’t alone in bringing back the ’90s at 2015’s You Oughta Know. The America’s Got Talent judge brought out Salt-N-Pepa for an omg-is-this-really-happening mashup of the “Push It” chorus and a bit of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.”
5. fun. for 1
While he’s part of Grammy-winning band fun., Nate Ruess kicked off his solo career this year with Grand Romantic. Last night he delivered lead single “Nothing Without Love” like his life depended on it, singing the big ballad with a passion that radiated throughout the venue.
4. Ghost Town
Ella Henderson brought the entire crowd down to the river to pray with “Ghost,” a song that pulls off the rare trick of sounding bombastic without feeling fake. Performing in the round, she had the whole crowd waving their cell phones in the air, which made it look like she was rising out of a shifting sea of digital light.
3. Rolling on the Hudson River
Just blocks away from the Hudson, James Bay and Elle King covered the Ike & Tina Turner interpretation of “Proud Mary.” King shouting “Rollin’! Rollin’! Rollin’ on the river!” was impressively on-point, but Bay’s ability to shred on the guitar during the joint performance was an awesome surprise.
2. Heat Wave
Miguel brought literal heat to his performance, playing “Waves” while flames erupted behind him. Sure, he’s R&B leaning, but Miguel can seriously rock.
1. Everybody Loves Tori
Tori Kelly received some of the night’s biggest applause, and for good reason. Kelly has absolutely slayed every awards show performance she’s done in 2015, and she brought the same level of vocal power and professionalism to last night’s medley of her songs “Nobody Love” and “Should’ve Been Us.”