From Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction at the VMAs to Ariana Grande’s much meme-d Victoria’s Secret show performance and even Lady Gaga’s mid-set vomit stunt, 2014 wasn’t lacking in controversial onstage moments. And there was even a fair share of uplifting, iconic performances, like Beyoncé’s Vanguard performance at the VMAs and Miley Cyrus teaming up with the Flaming Lips for Conan (genius). Check out our year in memorable music performance below…
Nicki Minaj’s Wardrobe Malfunction at the VMAs
Performing “Bang Bang” with Ariana Grande and Jessie J at the VMAs, Nicki Minaj found herself in a pickle when the front of her dress split open. While there was some conjecture that the wardrobe malfunction was planned, Nicki carried the whole thing off like a boss and managed to out-perform everyone else on the stage while trying to keep herself under wraps.
Lady Gaga Getting Vomited on at SXSW
Lady Gaga always loves some good shock tactics, and this year at SXSW music festival she had a “vomit artist” spew colored paint onto her chest as she performed. It was… weird. Definitely not one to watch if you have a sympathetic gag reflex, but memorable nonetheless.
Beyonce’s Vanguard Performance at the VMAs
Beyoncé accepted the Vanguard Award at the VMAs this year and her accompanying performance medley left the world breathless. From her baby Blue Ivy dancing in the audience, to the giant neon “Feminist” sign that served as a beacon mid-performance, everything about the performance moment was spectacular.
Ariana Grande Singing at the CMAs
It might not seem like much, but this year Ariana Grande ruffled feathers when she sang at the CMAs. Why, you ask? Because fans of Ariana, country music, and of the CMAs were riled by the fact that the petite song bird is a pop star and not a country singer. Semantics maybe, but controversial regardless.
Iggy Azalea’s Terrible SNL Performance
We love everything Iggy, obviously, as 2014 was the year of “Fancy”. But the Aussie rapper’s performance on SNL was widely regarded as one of the worst performances of all time. Yep, even up there with Lana Del Rey’s infamous SNL debut. Critics called the performance awkward, and unfortunately for Iggy, they were right.
Katy Perry’s Controversial Mummy Dancers
Katy Perry came under scrutiny when she included some mummified dancers with big bums, lips and hoop earrings in her Prismatic stage show. Detractors called the costumes racist, accusing Katy of appropriating from black culture to serve her image.
Ariana Grande’s Meme-d Moment at the Victoria’s Secret Show
Ariana Grande gets to appear on this list twice, although this time it’s for a much more hilarious reason. Performing at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Ariana was almost taken out by an Angel… and her expression of fear as she ducks down turned into one of the biggest and funniest memes of the year!
Sam Smith at You Oughta Know: Live In Concert
We love Sam Smith, and we were lucky enough to have the honey-voiced singer perform for our You Oughta Know Live In Concert. We can’t watch this performance without getting a little bit choked up — definitely one of the most beautiful, and emotional, performances of the year.
Outkast reuniting at Coachella
The much-hyped Outkast reunion at Coachella was one of the most iconic moments of the year. For attendees, it was a moment never to be forgotten, and for the rest of us, something we’re still watching on shaky YouTube videos. Hey, ya!
Miley Cyrus & The Flaming Lips on Conan
An unexpectedly perfect pairing, Miley and Wayne Coyne singing “A Day In The Life” on Conan was a weird and incredibly wonderful music performance moment, and surprisingly both artful and joy filled. It was the perfect level of wacky mixed in with both singers’ excellent vocal talents.
Prince on SNL
If Iggy’s was the most maligned SNL performance of the year, Prince’s was the most anticipated, and the most applauded. Instead of doing the traditional two separate, one-song performances over the course of the night, Prince played for eight uninterrupted minutes, and it was electrifying, which probably goes without saying.
Foo Fighters on Letterman
When the Foo Fighters played on his show, the famously measured David Letterman got a little bit teary eyed, giving us one very emotional and memorable live performance. Expressing his love for the band as musicians and human beings, and introducing the song “Miracle” with a personal anecdote about becoming a father, Letterman showed a more vulnerable side.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert “Same Love” at the Grammys
If we’re going to talk about memorable, we have to talk about Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert’s performance of “Same Love” at the Grammys this year. Not only was the performance wonderful, thirty-three couples -both gay and straight- were married in a ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah and featuring a cameo by Madonna. If you weren’t sobbing at the end of the performance, then your heart is made of pure ice.
Guns N’ Roses at Golden Gods
Everyone loves a good classic rock performance, and Guns N’Roses did not disappoint when they performed at VH1’s Golden Gods.
Fall Out Boy at VH1’s SoundClash
Playing at VH1’s Soundclash, Fall Out Boy reminded us why we love them so much!
[Photo: Getty Images]