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Top 10 Grammy Award Performances Of All Time

The Best Of Live Performing At the Grammy Awards

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Live performances at the Grammy Awards, the music industry's biggest awards celebration of the year, can often be a paint by numbers mediocre affair. However, nearly every year there seem to be moments of magic. This list puts together 10 of the most outstanding performances that have graced the Grammy Awards stage.

10. Eric Clapton - "Tears In Heaven" (1993)

Eric Clapton - Grammy Awards 1993
Courtesy Grammy Awards

An outpouring of support for Eric Clapton and the music he created in the grief over the tragic accidental death of his four year old son Conor resulted in three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. This is his emotional performance of the song "Tears In Heaven" at the awards ceremony.

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9. Whitney Houston - "One Moment In Time" (1989)

Whitney Houston - Grammy Awards 1989
Courtesy Grammy Awards

Whitney Houston's "One Moment In Time" was recorded for the 1988 Summer Olympics. It became her 10th top 10 pop single in the US. Early in 1989 she gave a stirring live performance of the song to open the Grammy Awards.

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8. Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond - "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (1980)

Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond - Grammy Awards 1980
Courtesy Grammy Awards

It was a surprise to much of the audience when Barbra Streisand, known to be shy about public performances, appeared along with Neil Diamond to deliver their #1 duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers." Grammy magic brought the two pop legends together on stage.

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7. Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim, Mya, Patti Labelle - "Lady Marmalade" (2002)

Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya, Lil Kim, and Patti Labelle - Grammy Awards 2002
Photo by Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

A performance of "Lady Marmalade" from the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge was already going to be big. Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim, and Mya delivered a powerhouse performance, and then mayhem seemed to break loose. Producer Missy Elliott joined the quartet on stage, and then the legendary Patti Labelle, from the group who recorded the original version, appeared in an impossibly huge red dress to redefine the word diva.

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6. Michael Jackson - "Man In the Mirror" (1988)

Michael Jackson - Grammy Awards 1988
Courtesy Grammy Awards

Despite the performance climaxing with a gospel chorus, the most moving parts of Michael Jackson's performance of the powerful song "Man In the Mirror" take place early on when he owns the stage alone with immense talent.

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5. Ricky Martin - "The Cup Of Life" (1999)

Ricky Martin - Grammy Awards 1999
Photo by Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

This performance is defined by the word showstopper. Ricky Martin was nominated in the Latin category and already a well-known performer in Latin circles. However, few pop fans knew much about him. He owned the stage in this powerful performance of "The Cup Of Life" and paved the way for his upcoming #1 pop smash "Livin' La Vida Loca."

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4. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, D. Grohl, L. Steven - "London Calling" (2003)

Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and Little Steven Van Zandt - Grammy Awards
Photo by Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

Joe Strummer of the punk group the Clash passed away in late December 2002. For many fans, they were still recovering from the shock when rock legends Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, and Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen's E Street band took the stage to perform the title song from the Clash's London Calling album. It is an album many identify as one of the greatest of all time.

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3. Chris Brown - "Run It!" (2007)

Chris Brown - Grammy Awards 2007
Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

This is the Chris Brown the world fell in love with. Acrobatic dancing and sweetly charming vocals combine for the kind of youthful energy too rarely seen on a Grammy stage.

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2. Eminem and Elton John - "Stan" (2001)

Eminem and Elton John - Grammy Awards 2001
Photo by Frank Micelotta / Getty Images

Eminem was frequently on the receiving end of criticism for seemingly homophobic content in his songs. Elton John was recognized as one of the most prominent gay activists among entertainers. Somehow they came together for a performance of Eminem's chilling song of fan obsession "Stan" and one of the most memorable Grammy moments emerged.

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1. Mary J. Blige - "No More Drama" (2002)

Mary J. Blige - Grammy Awards 2002
Courtesy Grammy Awards

This is arguably the performance that announced to the world that Mary J. Blige was a legend in the making. The song is a pledge to end the drama and pain in life. It was written and recorded at a time in which Mary J. Blige was recovering from addictions and abusive relationships. She pours her soul into this interpretation of the song with a ferocity rarely seen in televised performances.

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