And who needs a trophy to validate a music career? Madonna's most memorable Grammy appearances, especially in the latter half of Her career, usually revolve around one of Her incredible live performances. The stunning trifecta of Nothing Really Matters in 1999, Music in 2001, and Hung Up last year are almost unparalleled in show-stealingness.
Capping a banner year proclaimed as Her umpteenth "comeback" era, Madonna opened up the 1999 Grammys in full-blown geisha mode. I had this to say about the performance in my column about Madonna's top live performances:
There is something haunting but absolutely essential about this oft-overlooked performance. Perhaps one of those most out-there Grammy numbers, Madonna’s geisha-infused set piece is inimitably hers, never to be replicated and virtually critic-proof.
I mean, there are very few grown-ups that we as a consuming public will allow play dress-up on such a large scale. Madonna recreates the herky-jerky movements from the video while balanced on obscenely high platform boots. This performance just barely edges out The Power of Goodbye performance from the Europe VMAs, but only because Madonna would later (finally!) collect several trophies for the Ray of Light album throughout the evening, making the 1999 Grammy telecast truly historic.
Madonna's next appearance at the Grammys - while not as successful trophy-wise as 1999 - yielded a second memorable opening number. Of Music in 2001, I wrote:
No one can open an awards show quite like Madonna, who is guaranteed to whip the crowd into hysteria before the proceedings even start. This was her first national performance of the blockbuster song that critics dubbed a
return to Holiday fun.
And --- ouch -- those deep leg lunges! E! Online said it all: “We love Madonna's Jennifer Aniston 'do, we love her cool black threads, complete with ‘Material Girl’ tank, we love the video montage of Madonna highlights past, we
love the gold confetti falling on the crowd, we really love the pimp-daddy limo driven by Lil' Bow Wow...If the rest of the ceremony is even half as ghetto fabulous as Madonna's opening performance of her Grammy-nominated Music, we are so gonna be lovin' this show.”
Surely making my list of top live performances - had it been written a few years later -would be Hung Up, yet another Grammy opening. It's debatable whether Madge should have sat last year's telecast out altogether, being that She wasn't in attendance to wait out any nominations but rather, blatantly, to plug Confessions. Not that anyone's complaining. Her tried-and-true run-through of Hung Up, a performance featuring the animated Gorillaz, ranked as the second best Madonna moment of 2006, behind only the monumental Confessions Tour. Her reason for showing up? To rock your face.While we won't get a performance from Madge this year, perhaps She'll add a few Grammys to Her mantel. Good luck, Madonna!