Madonna, Queen Of Pop, has been tightly gripping that crown since her 1983 self-titled debut.
But it might come as a surprise to some, it wouldn’t be until 1999 — more than 15 years after “Holiday” and “Into The Groove” that Her Madgesty finally graced the Grammys stage for a performance.
Perhaps as a way of making up for lost time, she hit the stage four more times since then—behind the wheels with Lil Bow Wow, twirling in a leotard with Gorillaz, marrying gay and straight couples with Macklemore and Mary Lambert, and, of course, flying through the air and dueling with sexy minotaur men as the almighty Matadonna.
In honor of her “Living For Love” performance last night, I’m ranking Madge’s best Grammy performances, from best (#1) to — well, let’s not say worst (#5). Less best?
Sure. Let’s go with that.
5. “Same Love/Open Your Heart” (2014)
The cane. The Colonel Sanders get-up. Those fucking grillz. Last year’s “Open Your Heart” cameo during Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Queen Latifah and Mary Lambert’s “Same Love” mass wedding was a lot to take in all at once. Having done damage to her foot days before, Lady M came hobbling in alongside the Grammy Award winners to bless the ceremony.
The marriage-equality sentiment was no doubt an appreciated gesture of support for the community, but the performance was less of a representation of Madonna’s superstar wattage as the reigning Queen of Pop and more like seeing your drunk aunt crash a wedding and declare it a mitzvah.
Mazel tov for the good deed, Madge!
4. “Nothing Really Matters” (1999)
Madge’s very first performance at the Grammys was during the height of her spiritual reawakening circa Ray Of Light. Channeling the song’s Memoirs of a Geisha-inspired video, Madonna belted out the tune on top of a mini-bridge alongside strange, Björk-like background dancers and fire twirlers.
Can you even imagine the outraged blogposts about cultural appropriation she’d generate if she’d done this performance in 2015?
3. “Music” (2001)
Arriving to the stage in blinged-out ride that was chauffeured by Lil Bow Wow (holy nostalgia), Madge kicked off the show with in a fabulously over-the-top fur coat and fedora before shimmying her way across the stage.
The highlight, of course, was when her Madgesty gyrated her way over to the souped-up ride for pelvic thrusts aplenty and daring dives on the hood of the car.
How she didn’t take a tumble is nothing short of a miracle.
2. “Living For Love” (2015)
After hobbling in on a cane last year, Madge was on a mission to prove one thing this time around: The #UnapologeticBitch is back. Surrounded by sexy minotaur men, the mighty Matadonna brought her #SnapchatPremiere music video to life, battling her demons (which, presumably, represent the Instagram #haters) before emerging victorious in the ultimate fight of good versus evil.
Although the opening was a little bit wobbly — and even winded in moments, it all fell into place by the end, as the everlasting icon was lifted up (Lord lift her up, up, up!) toward the heavens. This #RevolutionOfLove? A great success. And that, ladies and gents, is how a true queen puts on a show.
1. “Hung Up” (2006)
It’s not easy sharing the stage with a bunch of cartoon characters. (Then again, she did once share the stage with LMFAO at the Super Bowl.) However, Madge managed to make a major splash in 2006 by making quick work of Gorillaz, stealing their spotlight with her IRL performance of her glorious disco return-to-form “Hung Up.”
What can we say? When it comes to perfection, the Confessions On A Dance Floor promotional era is iron clad, from the hip-thrusting choreography to that flawlessly feathered hair. Those animated openers were cute, but there’s nothing like the real thing, baby.