From Jennifer Lopez To Mariah Carey, The 24 Best Awards Show Performances Of 2018
We’re only a couple days away from the end of 2018, which means that now is the perfect time to look back at everything that went down in pop music this year. We’ve already revisited 30 of the best music videos and highlighted some unforgettable photoshoots. Today we’re turning our attention to the year’s best awards show performances. From Kesha’s powerful take on “Praying” at the Grammys to Jennifer Lopez’s exceptional medley at the VMAs, there’s been a lot to love this year. We pulled 24 of our favorite performances and ranked them below.
24. Jack & Jack at the EMAs – “No One Compares To You” & “Rise”
There’s always time for a literal interpretation of lyrics as proved by Jack & Jack when they flew above the stage during their performance of “Rise” at the EMAs.
23. Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line at the Academy Of Country Music Awards – “Meant To Be”
Bebe Rexha highlighted her crossover appeal and distinctive voice during a simple but beautiful set at the Academy Of Country Music Awards.
22. Anitta at the Latin American Music Awards – “Medicina”
Brazilian Pop Goddess Anitta featured a cast of young dancers and sang about the unifying power of music at the Latin American Music Awards.
21. Hailee Steinfeld at the MTV EMAs – “Back To Life”
Transforming her dancers into a car was a spark of genius and a fitting tribute to Hailee Steinfeld’s Bumblebee soundtrack contribution – “Back To Life.”
20. Ciara at the AMAs – “Level Up” & “Dose”
Ciara proved her dance moves were still on another level when she took the stage at the AMAs. Her reunion with Missy Elliott also made for one of the greatest moments of televised nostalgia this year.
19. Shawn Mendes at the VMAs – “In My Blood”
Shawn Mendes weathered a (literal) storm and soaked Radio City Music Hall during a rousing rendition of “In My Blood” at the VMAs.
18. Halsey at the EMAs – “Without Me”
Speaking of storms, a shackled Halsey also sang in the rain during her set at the EMAs.
17. Maluma at the VMAs – “Felices Los 4”
Maluma cemented his status as an international star with his performance at the VMAs. The playful set sees a crew of dancers fighting for his attention, but one of the most enduring moments came when he entered the audience to dance with Camila Cabello and her mom.
16. Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato at the BBMAs – “Fall In Line”
Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato set the scene for their “Fall In Line” video with an evocative set at the BBMAs. In it, the divas are controlled by a restrictive police force and find strength in one another.
15. Kelly Clarkson at the BBMAs – Opening Mega-Mix and “Whole Lotta Woman”
After opening the show with an awe-inspiring medley of massive hits, host Kelly Clarkson reclaimed the stage for a blistering performance of “Whole Lotta Woman” at the BBMAs. It is hard to pick which was more incredible.
14. Shawn Mendes and Khalid at the BBMAs – “Youth” feat. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Show Choir
You will not take their youth away. Shawn Mendes and Khalid welcomed students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School onstage for a defiant performance of “Youth” at the BBMAs.
13. Janelle Monae at the BET Awards – “Django Jane” & “I Like That”
Janelle Monae claimed her throne and celebrated Black Girl Magic during her set at the BET Awards. Supported by a crew of dancers, she lit the stage on fire and delivered a particularly memorable look.
12. Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller at the Grammys – “Wild Thoughts”
During an evening usually reserved for more serious balladry, Rihanna’s swagger was a breath of fresh air when she joined DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller to perform “Wild Thoughts” at the Grammys.
11. Pink at the Grammys – “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”
Instead of swinging from the ceiling in another gravity defying feat of acrobatics, Pink’s set at the Grammys was a beautifully stripped back moment that also featured an ASL interpreter.
10. Normani and Khalid at the BBMAs – “Love Lies”
Normani’s electrifying star-power and chemistry with Khalid were on full display when the duo took the stage at the BBMAs. And her strut into spin into roll into that pose was one of the year’s most undeniable slays.
9. Taylor Swift at the AMAs – “I Did Something Bad”
Taylor Swift was every bit a pop princess during her intricately choreographed and impressively staged rendition of “I Did Something Bad” at the AMAs.
8. Janet Jackson at the BBMAs – Mega-Mix
Give her a beat and watch what happens. Hint: It’ll be something incredible. Janet Jackson’s nostalgia-inducing mega-mix at the BBMAs proved she was more than worthy of the night’s Icon Award.
7. Cardi B at the AMAs – “I Like It”
Cardi B came into her own as a performer in 2018, and nothing proved that more than her rendition of “I Like It” at the AMAs. Transforming the stage into a tropical garden complete with incredible graphics, she proceeded to ride across it on a bike before joining her dancers for a sexy routine.
6. Kendrick Lamar feat. U2 and Dave Chappell at the Grammys – Medley
Kendrick Lamar delivered another politically charged and thought-provoking performance when he took the stage at the Grammys.
5. Ariana Grande at the VMAs – “God Is A Woman”
Ariana Grande celebrated the female divine with her recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper at the VMAs. Enough has already been said about her vocals (those whistle notes, though) and cameos from her mom and nonna (too cute), but we’ll never get enough of the overarching themes of female empowerment and her decision to portray Jesus as a Black woman.
4. Mariah Carey at the AMAs – “With You”
The skinniest pop legend was pretty in pink at the AMAs. Mariah Carey also showed flowers what blooming really looks like with her visually striking and vocally superior performance of “With You.”
3. BTS at the BBMAs – “Fake Love”
No performance at an awards show elicited a stronger response from the audience than when BTS took the stage at the BBMAs. The K-Pop gods were welcomed by thunderous applause. And it only got louder as they showed off their incredible dance moves.
2. Kesha at the Grammys – “Praying”
Supported by a group of superstar backing vocalists including the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Rexha and Camila Cabello, Kesha’s rendition of “Praying” at the Grammys was a moment of absolute triumph and power.
1. Jennifer Lopez at the VMAs – Mega-Mix
Delivering choreography, costume changes and production, J.Lo provided a masterclass on pop showmanship and highlighted her hit-filled discography after winning the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs.