Each year World Television Day is celebrated on November 21st, a date designated by the United Nations. But, what does this day celebrate exactly? It basically recognizes the profound impact that TV music performances have on our decision-making, informing, cultural connections, opinions, etc.
Top 10 Music Performances
Like music, TV is a cultural force that can bring individuals from all corners of the earth together. So we’ve selected the Top 10 music performances that had us all stuck to our TV screens.
Michael Jackson – Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983)
Michael Jackson’s performance of “Billie Jean” during Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever in 1983 was iconic. It marked the debut of his legendary dance move, the moonwalk.
This electrifying performance showcased his incredible talent, captivating the audience with his moves and setting a new sound and choreographical standard in pop music performances.
The Beatles – The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)
The Beatles’ appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 is a legendary moment in music history. Apart from being a performance from THE BEATLES, it was their first live television performance in the United States and marked the beginning of Beatlemania in the country.
73 million people witnessed a performance that propelled them to unprecedented fame. An explosive mix of energy, charisma, and infectious music left an enduring impact and shaped the pop music landscape forever.
Elvis Presley – The Ed Sullivan Show (1956)
Elvis Presley’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 are definitely remembered as outworldly. Despite the initial controversy surrounding his provocative style, Sullivan brought Presley in multiple times, making him known nationally. These performances gave him the exposure he needed to become a rock ‘n’ roll icon.
A dynamic stage presence, unique fashion sense, and hip moves left an indelible mark on the music industry.
Beyoncé – MTV Video Music Awards (2014)
Beyoncé’s performance at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards was an absolute jaw-dropper! This medley of songs from her self-titled album included hits like “***Flawless”, “Drunk in Love” and “Mine” (watch below).
As usual, her stage presence was incredible and upped her energy and charisma in every note. The crowd went wild (also as usual) and it’s definitely remembered as one of the standout moments in VMA history. Her talent and ability to rule the stage continues to grow and shock us every time.
Queen – Live Aid (1985)
Many would agree with us if we said that Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985 was one of the greatest live performances in rock history. The place? Wembley Stadium in London where an iconic set masterfully delivered by Freddie Mercury, his electrifying stage presence, and the band’s incredible musicianship. This 20-minute set included a medley of hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Hammer to Fall,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are the Champions.”
Freddie Mercury’s signature call-and-response with the audience has been an unparalleled way to engage a massive audience. A mix of energy, precision, and showmanship results in the greatest live acts of all time.
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust on Top of the Pops (1972)
David Bowie’s performance of “Starman” as Ziggy Stardust on Top of the Pops in 1972 was groundbreaking. Dressed in his usual discrete (enter sarcasm) outfit with vibrant red hair, Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust captivated audiences with a unique blend of androgyny, charisma, and musical innovation.
A turning point for social norms that challenged conventional gender norms and pushed boundaries. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it set the stage for the glam rock movement of the ’70s. This is why this performance is often cited as a pivotal moment in the history of rock music that challenged all forms of artistic expression used until that point.
Prince – Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show (2007)
Prince’s performance during the halftime show of Super Bowl XLI in 2007 is often regarded as one of the greatest halftime performances in the history of the Super Bowl.
But you’ll have to head over to YouTube to watch it.
His rendition of “Purple Rain” during the pouring rain became an indelible moment. Prince’s artistry, guitar skills, and stage presence were on full display. The setlist included hits like “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Baby I’m a Star,” and covers like “Proud Mary” and “All Along the Watchtower”.
Janet Jackson – MTV Video Music Awards (1993)
Janet Jackson’s performance at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards is remembered for its sheer spectacle and groundbreaking choreography. It was a high-energy and visually stunning showcase, particularly her performance of “If” and “Rhythm Nation.” I mean, if your brother is Michael Jackson, pressure is on, right?
An intricate choreography, Janet’s dance moves, and flawless stage presence made it another unforgettable moment in VMA history. It gained her the respect she deserved as a phenomenal dancer and entertainer. Another Jackson left a lasting impact on the music industry and pop culture.
Nirvana – MTV Unplugged (1993)
Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1993 remains one of the most iconic scenes in the history of TV. The band’s decision to play an acoustic set showcased their versatility and highlighted a different dimension of their music, moving away from that typical grunge sound they’d been so looked down upon.
Their setlist included both Nirvana originals and covers, such as “About a Girl,” “The Man Who Sold the World” (originally by David Bowie), and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” (a traditional folk song). Kurt Cobain’s raw emotion and stripped-down arrangements made it one of the most intimate and powerful moments behind a screen.
Sadly, it was one of Cobain’s last major performances before his tragic passing, which makes it an enduring part of their legacy.
Madonna – MTV Video Music Awards (1984)
Madonna’s performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards was a defining moment in her career and in the history of the VMAs. She sang “Like a Virgin” while writhing around on the stage in a wedding dress is not something you can easily forget.
As usual, in her bold and boundary-pushing element. What’s more, she proved that she was more than scandalous. She’s music, theatrics, and controversy. The spotlight promoted her into a pop culture icon that would influence like-minded male and female artists to come.