Grammys 2020: All the performances, ranked from worst to best

George Fenwick
Getty Images
Getty Images

The 2020 Grammys was typically packed with a wide range of performances, with a number of show-stopping moments and emotional tributes to Kobe Bryant.

The awards were this year dominated by 18-year-old Billie Eilish, who won all four of the major awards: song of the year, best new artist, album of the year and record of the year.

Eilish gave one of the evening’s 19 performances across the three-and-a-half hour show, which was hosted by Alicia Keys.

Here are the performances, ranked from worst to best:

18. Aerosmith and Run DMC

You can’t fault Steven Tyler for giving this performance 110%, but you can fault him for those screechy vocals. This medley of Livin’ on the Edge and Walk This Way was poorly mixed and badly choreographed, and it swiftly became an aggressive wash of noise that was hard to sit through.

Even the surprise appearance of Run DMC failed to breathe new life into the performance, and Tyler punctuated the proceedings by inviting two women onto the stage with him for some extremely clumsy dancing. Their hurried exit was the most relatable part of the performance.

17. Ken Ehrlich tribute

To mark his last year with the ceremony, Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich was given a tribute by a number of stars teaming up for I Sing The Body Electric, from the 1980 movie musical Fame.

Despite the best efforts of Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Gary Clark, Jr., Ben Platt, Joshua Bell, Lee Curreri, Common, Lang Lang, Misty Copeland and dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Company, the whole thing felt slightly stilted, with too many moving parts in the performance for it to really take off.

16. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani

(Getty Images )
(Getty Images )

Star-crossed lovers Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani performed Shelton’s ballad Nobody But You, relying on their chemistry alone to carry the performance. But compared to the many explosive performances of the night, this duet was a largely forgettable affair, with the couple simply staring at each other and singing for three minutes.

15. Prince tribute

Usher is a strange choice to perform a tribute to the androgynous queer icon Prince, while FKA Twigs is perfect - but the latter artist was essentially relegated to the role of a backing dancer, while Usher commanded the stage.

Usher did a good job singing Prince hits Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry and Kiss, and the choreography was impressive - but to sideline an extraordinary artist such as FKA Twigs at the Grammys is a crying shame.

14. Camila Cabello

(Invision/AP)
(Invision/AP)

Camila Cabello sang First Man as a tribute to her father, literally walking down into the crowd and singing directly to him as he wiped away tears. It was all a bit corny, but also rather sweet, and made for an intimate reprieve from the more over-the-top performances of the night.

13. The Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers are making this comeback thing look easy; the trio looked completely comfortable on the Grammys stage, delivering a lively performance of their songs Five More Minutes and What a Man Gotta Do.

The classic Hollywood-glam styling felt a bit dated, but the Jonas Brothers write such catchy hooks, and perform with such charisma, that they managed to pull it off.

12. Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile

Country legend Tanya Tucker won her first Grammys this year at the age of 61, and was joined by Brandi Carlile for a touching rendition of her song Bring My Flowers Now, featuring the timely lyric: “we all think we got the time until we don’t”.

11. Alicia Keys (twice)

(Getty Images )
(Getty Images )

Alicia Keys hosts the Grammys with the energy of your favourite aunt at your cousin’s wedding, and we’re here for it. Keys injected humour and warmth into the ceremony by sitting at the piano and serenading the crowd with messages of positivity and a tribute to Kobe Bryant.

She then covered Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Love, but replaced the lyrics with references to the various artists in attendance. It was wonderful. She later gave a rousing performance of her new song Underdog, with help from Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes.

10. Gary Clark Jr

Gary Clark Jr gave a fiery, politically-charged performance of his song This Land, a takedown of Trump’s America. The singer-songwriter got an overwhelmingly positive reception from the crowd after his high-energy performance and enormous guitar solo.

9. Nipsey Hussle tribute

John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch, Kirk Franklin & YG teamed up for a tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle, which featured a full choir as well as videos of Nipsey himself rapping. It was a rousing performance that worked seamlessly between the various artists on stage, and it came to a moving conclusion with projected images of Nipsey and Kobe Bryant.

8. Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande reminded everyone why she’s one of the best with her return to the Grammy stage, in which she performed Imagine, 7 Rings and Thank U, Next. The star started in a classic ballgown before changing into a dressing gown, prancing around a slumber party set and doing the splits. It was a whole lot of fun, and another showcase for Grande’s technically extraordinary vocals.

7. Billie Eilish

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The star of the night gave a stripped-back, intimate performance of When the Party’s Over, which was as much her brother/collaborator Finneas O’Connell’s performance as it was Eilish’s. The pair were captivating as they delivered a note-perfect, piano-driven version of the ballad.

6. Rosalía

Spanish flamenco-pop star Rosalía, up for best new artist at this year’s ceremony, performed a gorgeous medley of her songs Juro Que and Malamente. Along with her backing dancers, Rosalía blended flamenco, RnB and pop styles while maintaining flawless vocals throughout.

5. Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato took the crowd’s breath away with an emotional rendition of Anyone, marking her first live performance since she survived a drug overdose in 2018. Lovato had to restart the performance after tearing up on first attempt, but she eventually delivered a stunning vocal performance through her tears, and received a standing ovation when she finished.

4. H.E.R

H.E.R brought her low-key, effortless vibe to the Grammys stage in style, performing her song Sometimes - first sitting at the piano, and then grabbing a guitar and exploding into an extraordinary guitar solo that came seemingly out of nowhere. Performing with her shades on, H.E.R. made excellence look easy.

3. Lil Nas X

(AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In a performance tailor-made for the internet age, breakout star Lil Nas X elevated his unstoppable hit Old Town Road with a dynamic performance featuring an unrivalled slate of internet faves: K-pop superstars BTS, viral prodigy Mason Ramsey (yodel boy) and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Diplo, Young Thug and Nas also joined, transitioning into the Lil Nas X song Rodeo. Lil Nas himself looked like he was having the time of his life, walking around a revolving stage that followed the journey of his viral hit and its following remixes.

2. Lizzo

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No one has more fun than Lizzo. The RnB-pop star opened the show in style, backed by a full orchestra as she sang her epic hit Cuz I Love You. She then donned a futuristic-looking body suit for Truth Hurts, during which she pulled out her signature flute and gave a flawless solo.

As she yelled “PERIOD,” Lizzo reminded the crowd why she’s one of the most enjoyable pop stars currently in the business.

1. Tyler, the Creator

Doppelgangers: Tyler was surrounded by lookalikes(Getty Images)
Doppelgangers: Tyler was surrounded by lookalikes(Getty Images)

More than anyone else at this year’s Grammys, Tyler, the Creator expanded the very idea of what an artist can do during an awards ceremony performance. Joined by Charlie Wilson and Boys II Men, Tyler performed his songs Earfquake and New Magic Wand.

With bombastic choreography and an army of doppelgangers, Tyler brought the house down as a fake suburban street behind him went up in flames. It was a captivating, chaotic performance, and felt alarmingly fitting for our hectic times. Tyler’s fall backwards into the fire at the end is up there with Lady Gaga’s superbowl jump, as far as iconic stage exits go.

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