ENTERTAINMENT

Brit Awards 2017: 30 Best Performances Ever, Including Spice Girls, Adele And Madonna

Featuring unlikely collaborations, shocking choreography and of course, amazing UK talent

21/02/2017 16:01 GMT

Over the years, the Brit Awards have allowed some of the biggest stars from the world of music to put on show-stopping performances that have had us all talking the next day.

While we’re not exactly opposed to an outrageous onstage outburst or cringe-worthy awards show fail, the Brit Awards are often when an artist is able to create a true watercooler moment by really nailing a performance.

With countless memorable performances to pick from, we’ve managed to whittle our favourites down to just 30...

  • Take That - 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'/'A Hard Day's Night'/'She Loves You' (1994)
    For their first ever Brit Awards performance, Take That paid homage to The Beatles.

    The (at this point) still-emerging boyband threw it right back to the swinging sixties, performing three of The Beatles' early hits while dressed in replicas of their iconic blue suits.
  • Elton John and RuPaul - 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' (1994)
    Yes, as well as hosting the Brit Awards in 1994 (a thing that genuinely really happened) the duo also lip-synced for their life to a disco-tastic mix of Elton and Kiki Dee's famous duet.
  • Pet Shop Boys - 'Go West' (1994)
    Pet Shop Boys made a subtle political statement with their rendition of 'Go West', with Neil Tennant descending from the top of the stage while dressed as a miner, accompanied by a Welsh choir in full mining attire.
  • Björk and PJ Harvey - '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' (1994)
    While there's a tendency in the media to pit women against one another, Björk and PJ Harvey took a stance of solidarity at the Brits, years before the Spice Girls would take the message of "girl power" to the masses.
  • Spice Girls - 'Wannabe'/'Who Do You Think You Are?' (1997)
    Yes, we've all seen this footage a million times - but when was the last time you sat down and properly watched it? We urge you to do it now.
  • Robbie Williams and Tom Jones - 'Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)'/'You Can Leave Your Hat On'/'Land Of A Thousand Dances' (1998)
    He's the King Of The Brit Awards, so Robbie has a fair few impressive performances under his belt at this stage.

    For his debut as a solo artist, though, he roped in a musical legend to help him really make a splash.
  • Steps, Cleopatra, B*Witched, Tina Cousins and Billie Piper - 'Thank Abba For The Music' (1999)
    Has anyone seen Tina Cousins lately, while we're on the subject?
  • Queen and 5ive - 'We Will Rock You' (2000)
    File this under: guilty pleasure.
  • Geri Halliwell - 'Bag It Up' (2000)
    As if she hadn't commanded enough attention when she was still in the Spice Girls, Geri made sure all eyes were on her with her debut solo Brits performance.

    Emerging from a giant pair of legs, she performed this Girl Power anthem... and totally overshadowed her former bandmates, who were collecting an Outstanding Contribution award later that night.
  • Eminem - 'I'm Back'/'The Real Slim Shady' (2001)
    Eminem made one of the most memorable entrances in Brit Awards history, when he took to the stage in denim overalls and a hockey mask, while brandishing a chainsaw.
  • Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue - 'Cry Me A River'/'Like I Love You'/'Rapture' (2003)
    As if this medley of Justin's biggest hits wasn't perfection already, out strutted Kylie Minogue to cap things off with a rendition of Blondie's 'Rapture', providing the Brit Awards with one of its most memorable collaborations ever.
  • Scissor Sisters - 'Take Your Mama' (2005)
    Talk about chucking everything and the kitchen sink into a performance, eh?

    Scissor Sisters kicked off the show in 2005 with a rendition of 'Take Your Mama' involving Jim Henson puppets, leather lederhosen and, of course, a singing barn. Because why not?
  • Gwen Stefani - 'What You Waiting For?' (2005)
  • Prince - 'Te Amo Corazón'/'Fury'/'Purple Rain'/'Let's Go Crazy' (2006)
    One word: icon.
  • Kanye West - 'Diamonds From Sierra Leone'/'Gold Digger'/'Touch The Sky' (2006)
    Understated as ever, Kanye performed three of his hits while 70 performers, who had been spray-painted gold for the occasion, strutted all over the stage.
  • James Blunt - 'You're Beautiful' (2006)
    This song was inescapable by the time James performed it at the Brits, filming a follow-up to the music video to use as a backdrop, in which he falls in love with a mermaid, after jumping into the sea.
  • Amy Winehouse - 'Rehab' (2007)
    Still fairly early in the 'Back To Black' era, plenty had heard of Amy Winehouse by the time she performed at the Brits, though it often wasn't for her music.

    This appearance allowed her to remind to everyone why she was famous in the first place, even managing to make the vast Brits stage feel like an intimate lounge performance.
  • Mark Ronson with Adele, Daniel Merriweather and Amy Winehouse - 'God Put A Smile Upon Your Face'/'Stop Me'/'Valerie' (2008)
    Yes, it was technically Mark Ronson's moment - but let's be honest, it was all about Amy Winehouse, wasn't it?

    Reports in the press prior to the Brits had suggested that, due to problems in her tumultuous personal life, she perhaps wouldn't be able to perform. She managed to shut up her detractors by turning it out on the night, though.

    Keep an eye on that Adele woman, too. We just might be seeing a bit more of her later on.
  • Leona Lewis - 'Bleeding Love' (2008)
    Yes, fine, Leona Lewis isn't exactly the most jaw-dropping or outrageous pop singer of our time.

    Still, there's no denying the power of 'Bleeding Love', and in those pre-One Direction days it felt amazing to see an act come from 'X Factor' and go on to achieve great things.
  • Girls Aloud - 'The Promise' (2009)
    Fortunately, Nadine remembered her passport this time...
  • Pet Shop Boys, feat. Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers - Greatest Hits Medley (2009)
    So often, acts use their Outstanding Contribution prize as a way to lazily perform their best-loved tracks, plug a new greatest hits collection and then take themselves off home for the night.

    Not Pet Shop Boys, though, who provided a full multimedia experience for their performance, whizzing through their decades' worth of hits and even welcoming a little-known singer named Lady Gaga to fill in for Dusty Springfield. Interesting choice of wig from Chris Lowe too.
  • Lady Gaga - 'Telephone'/'Dance In The Dark' (2010)
    And speaking of Lady Gaga and interesting wigs...

    One year she's singing backing vocals for Pet Shop Boys, and the next she's the biggest star in the world. What a difference 12 months makes.

    This performance, where Gaga paid her respects to fashion designer Alexander McQueen, divided opinion, with some loving the fact she'd decided to think outside the box, and others hoping for something a little more traditional.
  • Cheryl Cole - 'Fight For This Love' (2010)
    Given this performance came just days after the breakdown of her marriage to Ashley Cole, Cheryl would have been forgiven if her Brits appearance wasn't exactly her best work. But frankly, she slayed. From the moment she jumped onto the stage in her MJ-esque sunglasses, Cheryl proved herself as so much more than magazine fodder, she was a bona fide popstar. If only she'd take more of an approach like this with her singing career nowadays...
  • Florence Welch and Dizzee Rascal - 'You Got The Dirtee Love' (2010)
    The Brits has always been known for its collaborations, and this is a perfect example of two artists from across two totally separate genres coming together and making it work.
  • Take That - 'Kidz' (2011)
    In their later years, Take That had become synonymous with the elaborate staging of their live shows, so for their first appearance as a five-piece in 15 years, they had to pull it out of the bag.

    Opening the show is a tough gig, but even though the stakes were high, the band were one of the night's biggest successes.
  • Rihanna - '(Only Girl) In The World'/'S&M'/'What's My Name?' (2011)
    Rihanna was enjoying such critical success at the time of the 2011 Brits, it'd have been impossible for her to choose just one track to sing - so she chose all three of her most recent singles, giving an energetic and memorable performance.

    Oh, and do ignore that seriously sexist intro from James Corden.
  • Adele - 'Someone Like You' (2011)
    Adele's sophomore album, '21', had already been a massive success, but it was this performance at the Brit Awards that catapulted her to the position of mega-star.

    Proving you don't always need to pull huge stunts for a performance to be memorable, she performed the emotional track accompanied by just a piano, and by the time the glitter rain started falling, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
  • Kanye West - 'All Day' (2015)
    Kanye chose the Brit Awards to debut his then-new track, 'All Day', although viewers at home didn't get to enjoy much of it, because his copious use of the n-word meant the majority of the song was heavily censored.

    Still, by shining a light on a host of UK grime acts, he gave us one of our favourite Brits performances of recent years.
  • Madonna - 'Living For Love' (2015)
    Aaand there she is.

    True, this will always be remembered as the performance Madonna fell down the stairs... but you can't take away from her that she got up and finished her performance, like the true pro she's proved herself to be time and time again.
  • Lorde - 'Life On Mars?' (2016)
    There had been much speculation in the press leading to to the 2016 Brit Awards about how they'd be remembering David Bowie, with a number of huge British artists rumoured to have been in the pipeline.

    What no one predicted was that it would be Lorde who'd be taking to the stage. We still get a bit teary watching this simple but emotional performance, even now.
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