The Most Memorable New Year's Eve Performances

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Vote up the most unforgettable moments.

Everyone has their own expectations for New Year's Eve, and one of them is usually a stellar performance before the ball drops. Since Dick Clark's inaugural New Year's Rockin' Eve in 1973, audiences around the world have been treated to several unforgettable New Year's Eve moments. Some of the biggest musical acts of the day perform live for the annual event, often outside in below freezing temperatures. Of course, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve isn’t the only game in town, and some of the most iconic rock shows in music history have taken place on NYE. 

Some of these moments are memorable for all the wrong reasons - we’re looking at you Mariah - while some are just special because a performer hits the ball out of the park. Some things only happen on New Year's Eve - like pop stars stumbling down icy stages, hair catching on fire in sub-zero temperatures, or drunken confessions on live television. Relive some of the best New Year's Eve moments with these unforgettable performances. 

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  • 1
    30 VOTES

    Jennifer Lopez Crushed New Year's Eve 2009

    Jennifer Lopez Crushed New Year's Eve 2009
    Video: YouTube

    Minutes before the ball dropped to ring in 2010, Jennifer Lopez set the standard to which all New Year's Eve performances dare compare. J. Lo hit the Times Square stage to close out 2009 on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. She performed a medley of her greatest hits: "Louboutin," "Waiting For Tonight," and "Let's Get Loud." She was able to remain energetic and captivating throughout a well-choreographed performance that had the crowd going crazy for seven straight minutes. Lopez showed what it looked like to be a true pro on the world's biggest stage.

     

  • 2
    14 VOTES

    The Grateful Dead Played Winterland's Last Show, With The Blues Brothers Opening

    The Grateful Dead Played Winterland's Last Show, With The Blues Brothers Opening
    Video: YouTube

    Winterland in San Francisco was an iconic divey rock venue that was Bill Graham's home of the Bay Area rock scene after he closed the original Fillmore/Fillmore West. Iconic shows over it's storied history included many by the Dead, and hundreds more  legendary acts that ranged from Lynyrd Skynryd to the Allman Brothers to The Sex Pistols and The Band. Tom Petty, the Ramones, and Smokey Robinson all performed farewell concerts at Winterland during its final days. And although they could play much bigger venues than the 4000-capacity Winterland, the hall was also the Grateful Dead's favorite hometown hot spot. Therefore, it was fitting that the San Francisco band was the one to officially close down Winterland on December 31, 1978.

    Jerry Garcia and company played for over five hours that night in three sets following openers New Riders of the Purple Sage and then the massively popular blues/soul homage of SNL megastars John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. During this period of the Dead, their shows were hardly ever filmed. However, this particular New Year's show was simulcast on San Fran's KQED (and KSAN radio). Special guests included Ken Kesey, and Bill Graham did a costume stunt to ring in the new year. The Dead would later release their four CD live album and DVD, both titled The Closing of Winterland. The show is often regarded as one of the most unique shows by this always-unique band, and while it had its ups and downs (clearly lots of white powders were involved in keeping  the energy levels for the long show), it also had more than its share of moments. Oh, and Bill Graham also served breakfast at dawn to the audience. 

  • 3
    20 VOTES

    Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" Turned Into A Giant Sing-Along

    Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" Turned Into A Giant Sing-Along
    Video: YouTube

    Really, what's better than a giant sing-along party? The Plain White T's took the stage for Fox's New Year's Eve Live 2010 to sing their mega hit "Hey There Delilah." The whole crowd joined the band for a stripped down rendition of the 2006 song.

     

  • 4
    17 VOTES

    Gene Simmons Set His Hair On Fire

    Gene Simmons Set His Hair On Fire
    Video: YouTube

    Gene Simmons of Kiss proved during a New Year's Eve performance at the Academy of Music in New York City in 1973 that when a rock band plays with fire, they're gonna get burned. Simmons is no stranger to lighting his hair on fire - according to the Kiss frontman, he has set his 'do ablaze "probably six or seven times." The first time Simmons set his hair on fire was at the NYE's show in '73. It was also the first night Simmons performed the now-signature fireball set piece during a performance of the tune "Firehouse."

    Luckily for the pyro-loving bass player, there was a roadie paying attention to the show with a wet towel at the ready. Simmons's savior was able to douse the flames and save him from a major injury. Burn victim or not, the stunt was such a hit that the band made it part of their regular show.

  • 5
    28 VOTES

    Mariah Carey Didn't Even Pretend To Lip Sync To Ring In 2017

    Mariah Carey Didn't Even Pretend To Lip Sync To Ring In 2017
    Video: YouTube

    Mariah Carey took the stage at Times Square on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve special just as the waning minutes of 2016 were ticking away. The pop diva was set to perform a medley of her hit songs, but due to a stroke of bad luck, she couldn't hear the music. Mere seconds into her first song, "Auld Lang Syne," it was clear to anyone watching on TV that the singer's lips were out of sync with the vocals.

    Carey tried to get through her song "Emotions," even removing her earpiece. She eventually admitted to the audience, "We can't hear, but I'll just get through the moment, okay." It wasn't long before she completely stopped trying to lip sync to the pre-recorded vocals all together and instead she talked to the crowd. At one point, she reached a breaking point and pleaded, "I  want a holiday, too. Can I not have one? I’m trying to be a good sport here.”

    Mariah's NYE performance is considered one of the most disastrous live performances in the history of live performances. Unfortunately for her, it happened to take place on the biggest stage in the world with millions of people watching. Of course, social media attacked the singer, who has attempted to explain what happened. She says that her in-ear monitors did not work before the show and Dick Clark Productions ignored her plea to fix the problem.

    "It's just something where if I can't explain it to the entire world, then they're not going to understand it, because it's not what they do," Carey explained. "Just like I wouldn't understand somebody who had a desk job and how to do that. I couldn't. I literally am incapable of being in the real world and surviving."

  • 6
    17 VOTES

    Jack Black Joined Foo Fighters To Cover AC/DC

    Jack Black Joined Foo Fighters To Cover AC/DC
    Video: YouTube

    Jack Black was keeping his School of Rock dreams alive when he took the stage at MTV New Year's Eve Live in 2003. Black joined a very rocking Foo Fighters for a cover of AC/DC's "Back In Black." Both the band and Black as lead singer do justice to one of the most popular rock songs in music history.