Brit Awards 2021: 25 Best Performances Ever, From Spice Girls And Adele To Madonna And Amy Winehouse

Unlikely duets, shocking stunts and of course, plenty of amazing UK talent.

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

Yes, as well the outrageous moments and cringe-worthy blunders that have become synonymous with the annual live show, the Brits have repeatedly given artists a chance to create a true water-cooler moment by really nailing a performance.

The Brits are finally set to return on 11 May, with this year’s performers including Dua Lipa, Coldplay, The Weeknd and Arlo Parks, so there’s plenty to look out for on the night.

With countless memorable on-stage moments to pick from, these are the performances that have stood the test of time, starting with some classics and leading right up to the present day...

Elton John and RuPaul - Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1994)

Yes, as well as hosting the Brit Awards together in 1994 (something we forget all too often) the duo also lip-synced for their life to a disco-tastic mix of Sir Elton and Kiki Dee’s famous duet.

Arguably the birth of the “lip sync for your life”.

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 OG British boyband.

At this point the group was very much still on the come-up, and threw it right back to the swinging sixties, performing three of The Beatles’ early hits while dressed in replicas of the Fab Four’s iconic blue suits.

Spice Girls - Wannabe/Who Do You Think You Are? (1997)

Yes, we’ve all seen this Spice Girls footage a million times – but when was the last time you sat down and properly watched it?

Do it now – it’s actually even better than you remember, and there’s a lot more to love than just that iconic Union Jack dress.

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)

The indisputable king of the Brit Awards, Robbie Williams has a fair few impressive performances under his belt from over the decades.

For his debut as a solo artist, though, he roped in a musical legend to help him really make an impression, performing a string of tunes with Sir Tom Jones.

Steps, Cleopatra, B*Witched, Tina Cousins and Billie Piper - Thank Abba For The Music (1999)

What 90s disco was complete without this one?

Geri Halliwell - Bag It Up (2000)

As if she hadn’t commanded enough attention when she was still in the Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell made sure all eyes were on her with her debut solo Brits performance.

Emerging from between a giant pair of legs, she performed this Girl Power anthem, surrounded by oiled-up male dancers and eventually tearing open her top, telling the “ladies” in the crowd: “Let’s see your boobs!”

Her performance also totally overshadowed her former Spice Girls bandmates, who collected an Outstanding Contribution award later that evening as a four-piece.

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.

A slightly terrifying, though obviously iconic, Brits memory.

Kylie Minogue - Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (2002)

Of course, the most iconic Brits entrance has to go to a certain Ms Minogue, who kicked off this rendition of her chart-topping hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by literally ejecting herself from a CD player.

Truly iconic.

Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue - Cry Me A River/Like I Love You/Rapture (2003)

As if this medley of Justin Timberlake’s biggest hits wasn’t pop 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, naturally, a singing barn.

Because why not?

Amy Winehouse - Rehab (2007)

While still fairly early in the Back To Black era, plenty of us 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 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 really all about Amy, wasn’t it?

Reports in the press prior to the Brits had suggested that, due to problems in her tumultuous personal life, she may not have been able to perform. However, she managed to shut up her detractors by turning it out on the night.

Keep an eye on that Adele, too. We just might be seeing a bit more of her later on.

Rihanna and Klaxons - Umbrella/Golden Skans (2008)

It’s been more than a decade and we’re still absolutely wowed by this performance. Fun fact: this took place on Rihanna’s 20th (20th!!) birthday.

Girls Aloud - The Promise (2009)

Fortunately, Nadine remembered her passport this time...

Pet Shop Boys, with 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 - 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 those diva sunglasses, Cheryl proved herself as so much more than magazine fodder; she was a bona fide popstar.

Florence Welch and Dizzee Rascal - You Got The Dirtee Love (2010)

The Brits has always been known for its collaborations, many of which we’ve already touched on, and this is a perfect example of when two artists from two totally separate genres come together and make a performance work.

Adele - Someone Like You (2011)

Adele’s sophomore album, 21, was obviously massive, but it was this performance at the Brit Awards that catapulted her to the position of mega-stardom.

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 West 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 (a few of whom would be back on the Brits stage within a couple of years), Kanye gave us one of our favourite Brits performances of recent years.

Madonna - Living For Love (2015)

Aaaand there it is.

Obviously, 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 the song, as only a true pro really could.

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, chosen as the late pop icon once declared she was the “future of music”. We still get a bit teary watching this simple but emotional performance, even now.

Little Mix - Shout Out To My Ex (2017)

Anyone who was still doubting Little Mix’s star quality in 2017 was given a rude awakening when they opened the Brit Awards with this stunning performance.

The night itself was a fairly unremarkable affair, but the group’s version of Shout Out To My Ex, complete with full choreo, a throne made out of spray-painted dancers and enough wigs to keep Cher happy for a full mini break, Little Mix knocked it out of the park.

Stormzy - Blinded By Your Grace pt. 2/Big For Your Boots (2018)

A performance that starts off strong and then gets better and better.

Beginning as a live recreation of his Brit award-winning album cover, Stormzy quickly took us through a gospel performance of Blinded By Your Grace before lambasting the government, highlighting the injustices of the Grenfell disaster and then having a shirtless dance in the rain to Big For Your Boots.

This is how you close the show at the Brits.

Dave - Black (2020)

The night well and truly belonged to Dave when the Brits took place in 2020.

Not only did Psychodrama end up taking home Album Of The Year, he also delivered the moment of the evening when he performed his song Black, including a blistering freestyle verse about institutional racism in the UK.

This included comparisons between the media’s treatment of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, as well as accusations of racism towards then-newly-elected prime minister Boris Johnson.