The 53rd Grammy Awards are upon us, and music’s biggest, most prestigious awards show will feature a number of killer performances, appearances and potential acceptance speeches from the likes of Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, Muse, Arcade Fire, B.o.B, Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Jay-Z and scores of others. In order to appreciate what’s to come, every day the MTV Newsroom Blog will deliver a classic moment in the history of the Grammy Awards. Today’s installment: Eminem and Elton John kick everything up a notch.
As far as the hard data is concerned, the big winners at the 43rd Grammy Awards — held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 21, 2001 — were Steely Dan, who collected three trophies that night (including Album of the Year for their comeback album Two Against Nature). But the biggest moment of that evening belonged to Eminem, whose performance of “Stan” (featuring an assist from Elton John) turned into the greatest moment in the history of the Grammy Awards.
Eminem had been a lightning rod ever since his debut album The Slim Shady LP dropped in 1999, but the storm surrounding him because especially intense following 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP. Though it contained some of the rapper’s biggest pop hits (including the massive “The Real Slim Shady”), it also contained plenty of lyrics that alluded to violence, sexism, drug use and homophobia. It was the latter that got Em into the most trouble, and in fact the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation actually protested the Grammy Awards in 2001 because of Eminem’s participation.
Though he continuously stated that not all of his lyrics were to be taken seriously, Eminem knew that actions spoke louder than words. So when the time came for the chorus to kick in on his hit “Stan,” the curtain revealed that Elton John had been tapped to provide those vocals for the evening (on the album, they were done by Dido). After a powerful, moving performance of the song (about an obsessed fan whose psyche falls apart), the two music icons embraced in a symbolic burying of the hatchet. It was a meaningful, memorable moment that brought people together via the power of music — something that every Grammy Awards hopes to accomplish.
Don’t miss “Snooki & Sway: Live From the Grammys,” a red-carpet live stream kicking off Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And stick with us all Grammy night for coverage of the red carpet, the show, the afterparties and beyond!