Tonight, the 57th Annual Grammy Awards should be a diva-tastic event, with performances by Madonna, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Sia, Jessie J, Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Gwen Stefani, and Beyonce. Then again, the Grammy Awards have always favored divas ripping through some vocals on stage. Here are four performances from 1998-2002 that show how great the ladies have been at holding down the awards show stage. Why did I choose this year range? Well, I feel like these performances happened long enough ago that many have forgotten about them, but they are not old enough yet for many to consider them iconic. I would argue that all four of these should go down in the books as some of the best.
Lilith Fair Medley by Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin, and Sarah McLachlan
The Lilith Fair--an all female pop music tour--took the world by storm in the late 90s. The 1998 Grammys decided to pay homage to these artists (all eventual Grammy winners) and acknowledge women as the backbone of pop radio. Though I like Colvin and Mclachlan's contributions, I think Cole is the standout because she can so easily move from the emotive singer/songwriter textures of hit "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" to a beatbox routine (showing the influence of hip-hop on her music).
"From the Bottom of My Broken Heart/Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
Spears has never been a big fixture on the Grammy stage (and she has only snagged one trophy to date), but her 2000 performance for the show is a great showcase for the star. Opening with a ballad (and that dress!) allowed her to focus more on her voice. While she sounds pretty good on "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart," the performance hits the stratosphere with "Baby One More Time," including a Wizard of Oz homage and a hyper dance breakdown. It's pure cheese and it's amazing.
"It's Not Right But It's Okay/I Learned from the Best" by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston has a long history of Grammy performances, but this 2000 performance is the one I remember (perhaps because I watched it live). It's great late-era Whitney. Though her voice was beginning to show its ragged textures, it also shows the laid-back cool of her My Love is Your Love period. This is a very modern Whitney, but for those who want a more classic ballad, she ends the number with "I Learned from the Best," showing she could still belt.
"Lady Marmalade" by Mya, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, and Patti Labelle
Rocking the 2002 Grammy Awards, this is best performance on my list because the vocal performances are so on point. Mya gets the show rolling, Pink brings some Rock and Roll, and Christina Aguilera riffs like crazy. However, this year it is important to talk about Lil Kim, one of the greatest rappers of the past 20 years who has not gotten the recognition she deserves. We should talk about the fact that Iggy Azalea's style often copies the best of Kim's work, though rarely with Kim's magnetism or clarity. That aside, Missy Elliot and the legendary Patii Labelle bring the performance home. It's a tour de force.