The 10 Most Controversial & Unexpected Grammy Moments Ever

Will Smith and Chris Rock’s Oscars slap has nothing on these scandals, performances, and stage crashes.

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Nicki Minaj Performing An Exorcism On Stage (2012)

Minaj enraged the Catholic community in every way possible at the 2012 Grammys. First, she walked the red carpet with a priest by her side, then began her performance of “Roman Holiday” at a confessional booth before performing an exorcism.

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Neil Portnow Telling Female Artists To “Step Up” (2018)

After being asked why only one woman accepted a Grammy onstage at the 2018 show, the then-president of the Recording Academy said women should “step up” if they wanted to be represented. The comments were rebuked by almost everyone, including P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, and Dua Lipa, and he eventually stepped down that May.

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Taylor Swift Subtly Shading Kanye West (2016)

After Swift won her second Album of the Year Grammy for 1989, she subtly clapped back at Kanye West, who said he made her “famous” in his then-new song: “As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame...”


Ol’ Dirty Bastard Pulling A Kanye Before Kanye Did It (1998)

When Diddy (then Puff Daddy) won Best Rap Album in 1998, Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard decided to steal the mic from presenter Shawn Colvin and declare his group the rightful winner. “Wu-Tang is for the children,” he said. “Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best.”

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Lady Gaga Arriving To The Grammys In An Egg (2011)

In what just might be the most iconic Grammys entrance, Lady Gaga arrived in an egg-shaped “vessel” carried by four men, rather than showing her face on the red carpet. People didn’t know what to make of it, which made her performance of “Born This Way” that night so thrilling, because she finally emerged from the egg.

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Milli Vanilli’s Grammy Getting Revoked (1990)

In February 1990, former duo Milli Vanilli won the Grammy for Best New Artist. Just months later, it was revealed that Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan didn’t sing a note on their 1989 album. As a result, the Recording Academy revoked their Grammy but didn’t give it to a runner-up, leaving it the only Grammy award to ever be vacated.

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Bob Dylan’s Performance Getting Crashed (1998)

Before there was Katy Perry’s Left Shark, there was “Soy Bomb Guy.” While Dylan performed at the 1998 Grammys, hired extra Michael Portnoy took off his shirt — revealing “soy bomb” written on his chest — and dance in a weird robotic way. It took 35 seconds for security to remove him.” It was such a perfect format to do something inscrutable,” Portnoy told THR in 2018. “To inject some confusion into the mainframe.”


50 Cent Crashing Evanescence’s Acceptance Speech (2004)

50 Cent lost Best New Artist to Evanescence and wasn’t happy about it, deciding to crash the stage and make a loop around the band members. Singer Amy Lee just laughed him off and gave a hilarious facepalm before going into her speech. More than 15 years later, the rapper is still complaining that he lost.

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Billy Joel Interrupting His Own Performance To Protest (1994)

After Frank Sinatra was cut off while accepting the Grammy Living Legend award to go to commercial, Joel specifically extended his performance in protest, halting the music and saying, “Valuable advertising time going by, dollars, dollars, dollars.”

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The Grammys Cutting Off Nine Inch Nails & Co. (2014)

Supergroup Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsay Buckingham, and Dave Grohl were still performing when the Grammys broadcast went to commercial, drawing the ire of NIN’s Trent Reznor. “Music’s biggest night ... to be disrespected. A heartfelt F*CK YOU guys,” he tweeted.