There are few things that an artist can do to 'prove' themselves to fans (and critics) than giving a great live performance. An on-point performance can make you love the song even more, and create a lasting, sometimes iconic moment. So, on to the list.
1) Whitney Houston-"The Greatest Love Of All"
There are so many great B.C. Whitney performances to choose from--but this performance of "The Greatest Love Of All" at an Arista Special back in 1989 is vocal perfection.
2) SWV- "You're The One/Use Your Heart"
SWV rocked the Apollo with performances of "You're The One" and "Use Your Heart." True, Coko was doing most of the riffing and running, but their voices blend together beautifully.
3) En Vogue- "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"
The harmonizing, vocal beast that is En Vogue blew the roof off with this performance of "My Lovin'" at the MTV Movie Awards in '92.
4) TLC- "What About Your Friends"
True, T-Boz, Left-Eye and Chili don't have the vocal powers of SWV or En Vogue, but make up for it with fiyah dancing and a hot remix. Plus T-Boz had swagger for days. Sadly, if three young girls came out dressed like this today, the lesbian rumors would start instantly. Nowadays women have to perform practically naked to prove they're strickly dickly. But I digress.
5) Diana Ross- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Miss Ross the Boss gives me LIFE everytime I watch this performance of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," recorded at Caesar's Palace in 1979. The photo montage at the beginning, Diana appearing head to toe in white, descending the staircase....just fantastic. Unfortunately embedding has been disabled, so you'll have to click the HERE to watch it on Youtube.
6) Janet Jackson- "I Get Lonely"
Yes, I know Janet isn't a sanger but she turned in a great "unplugged" performance of "I Get Lonely" on Rosie back in 1998.
7) Madonna- "Sooner Or Later"
Putting on her best Marilyn Monroe face and dripping in diamonds, Madge show a bit of vocal power (trust, Broadway/showtunes ain't easy to sing) when she performed "Sooner Or Later" at the Oscars back in' 91.
8) Fantasia- "Free Yourself"
Fantasia sang her ass off during this 2005 performance of "Free Yourself. 2:27 to 2:35 is EPIC. To paraphrase one of my fav bloggers Clay Cane, Fantasia is this generation's Patti Labelle.
9) Patti Labelle- "Over The Rainbow"
And speaking of Patti (who looked like she was about fly over the rainbow herself with that birdlike wig! I know it was the 80's but I'm just sayin'!), she destroyed this performance of "Over The Rainbow" at the Apollo in '89. Check out the queen screaming "C'mon now" at around 3:41.
10) Beyonce-"Single Ladies"
Sometimes all it takes is a good lace front,some killer choreography, some backup dancers, and good old fashioned audience participation to make a memorable performance, as Beyonce showed at the VMA's in '09 with "Single Ladies."
11) Teena Marie- "If I Were A Bell"
The late great Ivory Queen of Soul gave a beautiful performance of "If Were A Bell" on BET's Video Soul back in 1990. I like this better than the album version. On a side note: am I the only one who had a little crush on Donnie Simpson?
12) Stephanie Mills- "Home"
Stephanie Mills killed this rendition of "Home" at the Apollo in 1990. Check out 3:50-3:58. She holds out the note and decides to strut across the stage!
13) Anita Baker- "I Apologize"
Anita got so caught in this performance on Video Soul back in '94 that she forgot there was audience! Watch below.
14) Jennifer Holliday- "His Eye On The Sparrow"
The original Effie White annihilates this version of "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." Check the church lady laugh at 1:38, and the deadly vocals at 3:08-3:14.
15) Pink- "Glitter In The Air"
Simply put, Pink's best performance, ever.
16) Mariah Carey- "Vision Of Love"
A young (and I do mean young--Mimi looks like she just signed the contract last night!) Mariah belting out "Vision Of Love" at the Apollo in 1990.
17) Phyllis Hyman-"Living All Alone"
The late Sophisticated Lady seems on the verge of tears during this performance of "Living All Alone" in 1986. As one commentor on YouTube said "Forget about her singing putting them to shame, they can't even compare to her whistle!"
18) Mary J. Blige "Reminisce"
MJB tore through this MTV Unplugged performance of the "Reminisce" remix back in '93.
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