With the Grammy Awards only hours away, GlobalGrind decided to take a trip down memory lane to look back at some of the award show’s most controversial moments.
Last year’s award show was jam-packed with action, controversy, and sadness.
From Nicki Minaj’s controversial “Roman Holiday” performance, to Adele’s sweeping wins, last year’s ceremony was one of the most memorable in over a decade.
One reason being the disheartening news of Whitney Houston’s untimely death the night before the Grammys.
Only hours before the show was set to go live, the Grammys staff scrambled to put together a beautiful tribute for music’s most charismatic diva.
The 55th Annual Grammy Awards is set to go down live on CBS on Sunday, February 10 at 8 p.m. EST.
Check out the 13 most controversial moments in Grammy history below!
13. Billy Joel stops his performance of “River Of Dreams” to waste Grammy commercial time.
In protest to the Grammys bad habit of cutting artists acceptance speeches short, Billy Joel decided to take things into his own hands.
After Frank Sinatra was awarded the coveted “Lifetime Achievement” award and his tribute was cut short, Billy Joel decided to waste valuable commercial time when he stopped his performance of “River Of Dreams,” to say:
“Valuable advertising time going by. Valuable advertising time going by. Dollars, dollars, dollars.”
Watch his hilarious stunt below.
12. Bob Dylan gets “Soy Bombed”
During his 1998 Grammy performance, Bob Dylan got “soy bombed.” A “performing artist” hired to serve as a background dancer for Dylan’s performance named Michael “Soy Bomb” Portnoy decided to rip his shirt off and crash Bob Dylan’s performance by spastically dancing like a crazed maniac.
Bob Dylan kept cool and seem reasonably unfazed by the interruption. Due to Michael “Soy Bomb” Portnoy’s actions, CBS refused to pay him his $200 background dancers fee.
Watch Bob Dylan get “soy bombed” below!
11. Ol Dirty Bastard storms the Grammy stage
Not happy about being snubbed once, but twice, during the 1998 Grammys, Wu-Tang Clan’s most charismatic member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard decided he wanted to send a message.
After losing to Puff Daddy in the “Best Rap Album” category, Wu-Tang’s loss to singer Shawn Colvin in the “Song Of The Year” category took him over the edge.
Upset, ODB stormed the Grammy stage to drop some surprising knowledge about Wu-Tang’s influence on America’s future generations.
ODB’s speech went a little something like this:
“I went and bought me an outfit today that cost me a lot of money, because I figured that Wu-Tang was gonna win. I don’t know how you all see it, but when it comes to the children, Wu-Tang is for the children/ We teach the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best. I want you all to know that this is ODB, and I love you all, peace.”
ODB was eventually ushered off the stage, and the “Song Of The Year” winner Shawn Colvin was eventually able to give her acceptance speech.
Watch the awkward moment below!
10. Nicki Minaj arrives with the Pope
Rapper Nicki Minaj stirred up controversy when she arrived to the Grammys with an actor dressed up as the Pope. The Catholic Church was outraged and accused Nicki Minaj of being sacrilegious and blasphemous.
Things only got worse when the YMCMB performed “Roman Holiday” on stage, which included images of a Catholic priest performing an exorcism.
Watch the weird performance below!
9. Kanye West’s epic Grammy speech
The sometimes controversial rapper Kanye West made a huge splash at the 2005 Grammys when he won the “Best Rap Album” award.
When he went up to accept his award for his debut album, College Dropout, Kanye delivered a pretty dope speech.
He kicked it off by saying:
“Yall might as well get the music ready, because this is finna take awhile. When I had my accident, I found out at that moment that nothing in life is promised except death.
If you have the opportunity to play this game of life you need to appreciate every moment. A lot of people don’t appreciate their moment until has passed…but umm, right now, it’s my time and my moment.
Thanks to the fans. Thanks to the accident. Thanks to God. Thanks to Roc-a-fella, Jay-Z, Dame Dash, my mother, Rhymefest, and everyone that’s helped me.
And I plan to celebrate. I plan to celebrate and scream and pop champagne every chance I get, ’cause I’m at the Grammys baby!
I know everybody asked me the question “what’s Kan gon do…I know he’s going to wild out or do something crazy.’ Everybody wanted to know what I’d do if I didn’t win.
I guess we’ll never know.”
Check out Kanye’s speech below!
8. Jennifer Lopez’s controversial green Versace dress
At the 2000 Grammys, Jennifer Lopez made many people blush when she arrived to the red carpet wearing a green, sheer, Versace dress that left very little to the imagination.
Between the plunging neckline and the thigh high slit, J.Lo’s green Versace dress remains the most talked about Grammy outfit of all time.
Due to dresses like Jennifer’s, CBS officials have now asked attendees to follow a specific “wardrobe advisory” policy, which would now prohibit such outfits.
7. 50 Cent interrupts Evanescence’s Grammy speech
Kanye West wasn’t the first artist to rudely interrupt another artist on stage, and he sure won’t be the last.
At the 2004 Grammys, 50 Cent interrupted rock group Evanescence’s Grammy speech when they beat him in the “Best New Artist” category.
Upset that he didn’t win the award, he decided to rain on their parade with a noteworthy interruption. Lead singer Amy Lee brushed off the incident and continued to deliver her speech. Amy Lee even thanked 50 Cent while delivering her speech.
Check it out below!
6. Will Smith, Public Enemy, Salt-N-Pepa, and Russell Simmons boycott the Grammys
Despite the strides hip-hop music has made over the past two decades, things weren’t always copacetic. In 1989, Will Smith, along with other hip-hop artists, led a boycott of the Grammys due to the award show’s decision to not televise hip-hop categories.
Will and his hip-hop comrades protested the award show, and the next year, the Grammys specifically invited them back for a televised performance.
5. Nas and Kelis show up on the Grammy red carpet wearing “nigger” t-shirts.
When rapper Nas and his then-wife Kelis showed up on the 2008 Grammy red carpet wearing shirts that read the racial epithet “n*gger,” the world became offended.
Nas, who was promoting the title of his forthcoming new album, sparked a very deep public debate over the use of the n-word.
Nas insisted on titling his album the n-word, and urged the public to become more comfortable with the word.
Organizations like the NAACP, on the other hand, made it publicly clear that they disagreed with the Illmatic rapper.
Due to this Grammy red carpet episode, CBS officials have included “offensive language” in their 2013 “Wardrobe Advisory” policy.
4. Milli Vanilli fool the Grammys.
“Blame It On The Rain” duo Milli Vanilli received a Grammy for “Best New Artist” at the 1990 ceremony. When Chuck Philips of the LA Times revealed that the lead vocals were not the voices of Rob Pilatus and Frank Farian, rumors began to swirl about the duo’s credibility.
In 1990, Frank Farian admitted to the Academy that the rumors were true and that neither contributed any vocals to their album. Four days later, the Grammys stripped the duo of their awards.
3. Eminem and Elton John join forces
Controversial rapper Eminem career was at an all time high in 2001. After releasing The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem began to receive criticism from the LGBT community for his use of homophobic slurs.
Eminem maintained he wasn’t homophobic, but it wasn’t until the 2001 Grammys where openly gay legend Elton John joined Eminem on stage to perform “Stan,” that the homophobic allegations were officially put to rest.
At the end of the performance, Eminem and Elton John hugged it out and showed the world that there was nothing wrong with being gay.
Em and Elton’s performance of “Stan” is still one of the most memorable Grammy performances to date.
Watch their performance below!
2. Chris Brown beats up Rihanna
The 2009 Grammys weekend seemed to be going as planned, until news spread that R&B sweethearts Rihanna and Chris Brown were involved in a brutal domestic violence incident on the eve of the ceremony.
The report revealed that 19-year-old Chris Brown viciously attacked his 20-year-old girlfriend Rihanna after the two young lovers got into a verbal argument.
Things escalated quickly when an officer from the LAPD leaked graphic photos of Rihanna’s beaten and bloody face.
Subsequently, Rihanna, who was scheduled to make an appearance at the awards, had to cancel her appearance.
1. Whitney Houston Dies
On the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony, R&B legend Whitney Houston was found dead in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton only hours before the annual Clive Davis Grammy Pre-Party.
The music community was shocked and horrified to learn the 48-year-old singer had finally succumbed to death after a long struggle with prescription drugs.
With the sad news of Whitney’s untimely death, the directors of the Grammys scrambled to put together a tribute for the fallen singer only hours before the show was set to air.
Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson sang Whitney Houston’s classic record “I Will Always Love You” for what’s been considered one of the most emotional Grammy ceremonies to date.