She's set to perform at the BRIT Awards tomorrow night, and the Queen of Pop sure knows how to put on a show. As we eagerly await what she's got in store for us, let's have a look back at her best award show performances (yes, of COURSE we've included the Britney snog).
Like A Virgin – MTV Video Music Awards 1984
Madonna started as she meant to go on, opening the very first MTV VMAs with a fairly raunchy performance of Like A Virgin. Dressed in her famous wedding dress complete with Boy Toy belt, she descended from a giant wedding cake and writhed on the floor, flashing her knickers and rubbing her bits. She had originally wanted the performance to feature a lion from the New York zoo but was declined. Lord only knows what she’d have done with that.
Express Yourself – MTV Video Music Awards 1989
Before Express Yourself became immortalised by its Blond Ambition performance, Madonna did a dry run at the VMAs. She may not have had the blonde hair yet, but the Jean Paul Gaultier suit was almost complete. Performing in perfect synchronicity with backing singers Donna and Niki, this is a reminder that Beyonce’s Single Ladies video owes as much to Madonna as much as it does to Fosse. Later this night she presented an award to “the diva himself, George Michael”. She wasn’t wrong.
Vogue – MTV Video Music Awards 1990
Conceived as a bit of a laugh on the final night of the Blond Ambition tour in France, Madonna and her now well known set of dancers and singers put together a Marie Antoinette inspired performance of Vogue, which remains one of her most elaborate and extravagant to date. Alright, the whole thing is mimed, but she makes up for it with all those marvellous fan cracks, as she points everyone into a pose.
Sooner Or Later – Academy Awards 1991
Sooner Or Later was the main number from Madonna’s 1990 movie Dick Tracy, and it won the Best Original Song Oscar for Stephen Sondheim this year, propelled by Madonna’s outlandish, classy performance at the ceremony, which she did in full Marilyn get up, dripping in diamonds, with a sultry cabaret routine. Madonna didn’t get to take home the gong her recording won (something that happened to her again in 1997 with Evita), but she did have Michael Jackson as a date, and she hasn’t stopped banging on about it ever since.
Bedtime Stories – BRIT Awards 1995
Strangely, up until this week, this was the only performance Madonna gave at the BRIT Awards. Stranger still is that this performance was of Bedtime Stories, the Bjork-penned title track from her 1994 album which was one of her more alternative offerings. With an ethereal long blonde wig and white dress, she looked different as ever, but our eyes have always been rather more drawn to her pair of male backing dancers getting closer than close beside her. Always thinking of us, she is.
Nothing Really Matters – Grammy Awards 1999
It’s a travesty that Madonna’s music wasn’t recognised by the Grammys until Ray Of Light, but she gave them a hell of a performance to show them what they’d been missing. In full geisha get-up (her kimono was designed by Gaultier), Madonna delivered an Asian-themed rendition of her dance single, with a faux-Japanese rock garden behind her, and dancers in similar costumes. The whole thing was fairly minimalist by her standards, but a beauty to watch.
Like A Virgin/Hollywood – MTV Video Music Awards 2003
Once upon a time everyone gave a shit about Britney vs. Christina, and who was going to be the new Madonna, so MTV fired them all on stage together to battle it out, and the winner was inevitably Madonna. Paying homage to her 1984 performance, Madonna arrived as a groom to the two brides, proceeding to snog them both (yes, she snogged Christina too), providing the Internet with one of its first truly viral moments. Let’s not get started on why Missy Elliot was involved.
Hung Up – MTV Europe Music Awards 2005
After the relative flop of American Life, Madonna’s Confessions On A Dancefloor album was a truly outstanding comeback, led with this performance at the EMAs in Lisbon. Emerging from a giant disco ball, in her purple leotard, with Farrah Fawcett bangs and oversized sunglasses, she revelled in the joy of a bloody good pop song with a killer dance routine; involving being passed along a slow motion wall of break dancers and lots of disco fever arm-rolling.
Hung Up – Grammy Awards 2006
Never one to repeat a performance – or even an outfit – by the time Madonna got around to a Grammy performance for Confessions she was ready to mix up the old disco ball routine. In a live first, Madonna performed alongside Damon Albarn’s virtual band Gorillaz, segueing effortlessly from their hit Feel Good Inc. to Hung Up, and dancing alongside their projected images in a stunning visual feat. She looked so banging in her blue sequined leotard, she could well have been CGI herself.
Living For Love – Grammy Awards 2015
The most recent award show spot, but certainly up there with her best, Madonna delivered her debut performance of Rebel Heart lead single Living For Love at this year’s Grammy Awards, and has even been commended for the quality of her isolated vocals. It had everything from a round bull ring, horned dancers, gospel choir, and a good old fashioned ‘clap and sing along’ section, which no one could really resist. Being hoisted up into the air at the end was the icing on the cake.