40 Live Performances Too Cringe-worthy To ForgetBy Jennifer Snow
Live performances are unpredictable and exciting to see. Sometimes things go perfectly, and you’ll get to see your idols burn bright and rock out in their element. But there are also times when things don’t go right—and when things do go wrong, millions of expectant fans will be there to see it, record it, and remember it.
We’re talking about the props that didn’t prop as planned, the vocal tracks that skip, and the voices that croak. These are some of the cringe-worthy scenes seen and heard live. No one is safe, and even the greatest of rockstars have experienced a rough day on stage. Below are some of the most memorable stage flubs ever documented.
Mariah Carey’s Memorable New Year’s Eve
Mariah Carey is a legendary singer, composer, and all-around musician. Her music is a Christmas staple. Without Mariah Carey’s songs on the radio, the holidays would never be the same. She was, therefore, the best choice to star in Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
Unfortunately, Carey did not have a good night when she performed in 2016. The infamous event led to the critics giving her a bashing. However, her team defended the performance by explaining that a malfunctioning earpiece caused an unfortunate audio disruption that harmed the singer’s ability to perform.
Robin Thicke’s Unforgettable MTV Music Video Awards
In 2013, the 30th MTV Video Music Awards crowd witnessed a shocking moment that they won’t soon forget. Robin Thicke performed with Miley Cyrus, and the two stole the show. Though their performance was indeed memorable, it was unforgettable for the wrong reasons.
Critics and fans all over the world described the performance as shocking and uncomfortable to watch. When asked about it, later on, Cyrus revealed that she only acted in a way that people expected her to act. However, she has changed her style and no longer does risqué performances.
Ashlee Simpson Would Rather Forget SNL
Saturday Night Live is the perfect place for musicians to feature their songs to a captive and engaged audience. It is an opportunity no performer wants to waste. So although Ashlee Simpson did make a splash in her SNL debut, it left a spot on her career that she probably wished she could erase.
Everything seemed fine when Simpson entered the stage to sing her single Autobiography, but when a different song’s vocal track suddenly played in the middle of her performance, she was as surprised as the audience. She tried to dance around the error—literally—but it didn’t do much to help. Simpson found it difficult to bounce back from this event.
The Everly Brothers’ Sibling Rivalry
A lot of people might not be familiar with the Everly Brothers. They were a much-loved and popular singing duo back in the 1950s and 1960s. The two performed and got along famously, at least in the early parts of their career.
In 1973, the brothers’ show had to be canceled right before the doors were set to open, all because one of the brothers, Don Everly, arrived at the rehearsal looking and sounding like he was in no shape to perform. Consequently, the brothers argued, and a fight ensued that caused them to declare a hiatus.
Miguel’s Jumpy Performance At The Billboard Music Awards
A live performance demands a lot from a performer. The audience needs to be engaged and captivated. Singing well is usually not enough— performers have to dance or move around in order to keep people’s attention focused and energies high. Unfortunately, it is also possible to go overboard, causing a ruckus that your audience will find difficult to forget.
This is what happened when Miguel sang at the Billboard Music Awards: To establish a name for himself, Miguel decided to leap over the crowd to get from one part of the stage to the other. He ended up bashing heads with two audience members, which landed him a lawsuit.
Poison’s Poisonous Performance At The MTV Awards
Heavy metal musicians are known for their wild behavior and boundary-breaking. The band Poison was also not afraid to give it their all when they performed at the MTV Awards. They always started off strong in any live show. But something weird happened at the MTV Awards, even as hair metal performances go.
They were supposed to perform the song “Unskinny Bop,” but the band’s guitarist, CC Deville, suddenly went on a different route and instead played “Talk Dirty to Me.” Consequently, the band fumbled, and the performance was lackluster. Backstage, a fight ensued between Bret Michaels, the lead singer, and Deville. In the end, Deville left the band.
The Nutcracker At The Halftime Show
The Super Bowl halftime shows were made to be a spectacle. Nowadays, it’s common to expect the biggest pop stars to perform live for a large audience with pomp and pyrotechnics. But by 1992, football fans were used to these shows. But the Super Bowl that year left fans bewildered more than entertained.
The crowd was treated to a lively show filled with figure skaters. They danced to classic songs such as The Nutcracker. Though it went off without a hitch, it was an odd performance for a sports-loving audience. Fortunately, they decided to go with Michael Jackson the following year, and the audience loved it.
Justin Bieber Had Too Much Milk
Justin Bieber was just a kid when he shot to fame and became a pop star. At a time when kids his age were busy with school work and the latest PlayStation game, Justin Bieber was already on concert tours in different parts of the world. So when he looked sick in his 2012 tour titled “Justin Bieber Believe,” everyone just assumed he was being a regular kid having indigestion issues.
When the music stopped, Bieber threw up two times prior to exiting the stage. Bieber later explained that he drank too much dairy on the night of the concert. Fortunately, he made it to the rest of his tour, probably lactose-free.
Lana Del Rey’s Shaky Saturday Night Live Performance
SNL can make or break a performer’s career. When Lana Del Rey was the show’s musical guest in 2012, she was one of the few musicians who performed on the show before releasing an album. Before her guesting on the program, she described feeling nervous about the much-awaited event.
Her nerves may have gotten the best of her as audiences were not impressed with her SNL performance. Some believe she was a bit stiff and not at all engaging. However, some fans actually liked her “messy” performance. Fortunately, she managed to move on from the incident and has been nominated for six Grammy Awards since.
Greta Van Fleet’s Lackluster SNL Performance
Greta Van Fleet landed a musical guest spot on SNL in 2019. Their goal was to sing two songs from Anthem of the Peaceful Army, their debut studio album. However, a lot of people believed their appearance was lackluster, without life or spirit.
Though the crowd expected to be blown away by the band thanks to their 70s rock vibe, a lot of viewers were disappointed. A Twitter user claimed that the band made him feel “uncomfortable,” while another thought that Greta Van Fleet made a “spot-on” Led Zeppelin impression. Not the worst feedback!
Red Hot Chili Peppers Halftime Show Fizzled
Bands are great to see in a Superbowl halftime show. Red Hot Chili Peppers were an amazing choice, and watching them appear on stage must have been electric. But die-hard fans noticed something odd about their performance.
Many wondered if the band was actually playing live. After the show, it was revealed that the instruments they were playing were not plugged in. In reality, only the vocals were live, and they were just pretending to play the guitar, drums, and bass. No electricity at all! This little secret was later revealed by bassist Flea.
The Pussycat Dolls Catty American Music Awards Performance
The Pussycat Dolls gave an amazing performance at the 2006 American Music Awards. However, their song and dance number suddenly took an odd turn during the last few moments. Nicole Sherzinger was getting into the beat’s groove as they were performing “Buttons.”
But something unexpected happened when member Melody Thornton decided to sing and take center stage. She began making vocal improvisations to the visible surprise of Sherzinger. It was a weird moment in music history, which many have found difficult to forget.
The Replacements Are Replaceable
The Replacements were very much prepared when they attended the dress rehearsal for Saturday Night Live. They were spot on, and everyone readied themselves for the same type of performance when the show went live.
However, when the time came for them to appear, it became obvious that the band probably partied a little too much before they went on air. Did they become complacent and celebrate early? No one knows for sure. What is definite is that their set was messy, the band uttered a cuss word on live television, and producer Lorne Michaels banned them from the show.
Queens of the Stone Age Had A Bad Day At The Rock Am Ring
Sometimes everything is smooth sailing, but there are moments when everything seems to go wrong all at once. Unfortunately, the latter happened to the band Queens of the Stone Age at the worst moment. It was so bad that the band all got matching tattoos to remind them of that day.
When the band played in 2001 at Rock Am Ring, they were not prepared for the string of technical malfunctions that haunted them throughout their show. Specifically, their gear failed, the smoke machine could not stop smoking, and the crowd was only able to hear their guitars and not the band’s vocals.
Katy Perry’s Backtrack Backfires
Katy Perry was all geared up to sing her much-awaited song “Roar” at the NRJ Music Awards when an embarrassing snafu occurred. While she was in the middle of her passionate performance, it was obvious that there was an issue with the backing track.
The host had to enter the stage and ask if Perry would like to start from the top. Many thought the star was lip-syncing all throughout her performance. However, the NRJ awards defended Perry by explaining that she was actually singing live, but the backing track had launched in error.
Karmin’s Bad Karma At SNL
Karmin became popular on YouTube by way of singing cover songs. So when mainstream television came knocking, the group was more than happy to perform on Saturday Night Live as one of its musical guests. The duo was clearly over the moon.
Their television performance was a great opportunity to increase their publicity further. But the opposite happened. Their fans were used to them singing covers, but they performed their own song on the show. Critics disliked their music, and the group decided to focus on their own solo acts after.
Led Zeppelin’s Failed Return
Led Zeppelin saw the Live Aid concert as a way to mark their return to the music scene. Prior to this big event, the band had not been seen live since its drummer, John Bonham, died. Fans were definitely excited to see the band together after five years of Bonham’s passing.
But when Led Zeppelin went on the Live Aid stage, fans were disappointed. Guitarist Jimmy Page struggled to play an out-of-tune instrument, Robert Plant’s voice was hoarse, and Phil Collins seemed unprepared when he was asked to serve as a replacement for the drummer.
The Chaotic 1969 Altamont Speedway
It was 1969 when the Altamont Speedway concert was organized with the intent for it to be a peaceful show that featured musical icons such as Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones, as well as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. However, the event organizers decided to go the unconventional route in terms of choosing the security team.
The organizers decided to solicit the services of The Hell’s Angels to keep the peace. Unfortunately, this plan backfired, and the event went down as “rock and roll’s all-time worst ever day,” according to Rolling Stone magazine. Also, the noise from the motorcycles caused the music to be drowned out and technically inaudible.
Corey Feldman Is A Singer?
Corey Feldman was a popular teen star and actor during the 1980s. When he appeared on the Today show, nobody would have expected that he would be performing as a singer. Very few people were prepared for his musician’s debut after almost a lifetime of being a professional actor.
Unfortunately, Feldman’s performance was not something people expected. Audiences were shown a confusing set. Plus, the choreography was not at all impressive. Fortunately, Feldman’s musical career is not yet over, and he still has opportunities to redeem himself.
Green Day’s Tantrum At iHeartRadio
Green Day is a popular pop-punk band that has been around for a long time. Its lead vocalist, Billie Joe Armstrong, made sure everyone knew that fact during one of the band’s performances at iHeartRadio. They were supposed to sing their last big number when Armstrong was notified that they only had a minute left before they were supposed to leave.
The lead vocalist clearly did not like to be told what to do. So much so that he spent the remaining time ranting and smashing his guitar on stage. Instead of finishing their song, the band decided that demolishing the set was the best way to sign off.
Smashmouth Got Smashed In The Mouth (With Bread)
Concerts are usually a hotbed of unexpected happenings. But would you ever expect an audience to throw bread at the performers on stage? Apparently, that’s what happened during a concert at a food festival. Since vendors gave event goers lots of free bread, it seemed natural for them to throw loaves of it on stage.
Smashmout’s lead singer, Steve Harwell, seemed so overwhelmed with the heavy carb load the band was experiencing that he had no choice but to threaten the crowd. At the same time, the organizers of the event had to intervene and make the singer stop issuing threats.
The Show Must Go On With Carly Rae Jepsen
Whether you’re a Carly Rae Jepsen fan or not, you will surely like what the singer, most famous for her song, Call Me Maybe, did when she performed at DAVIDsTEA for charity. She hosted an event that was supposed to sell approximately 30,000 tea cups for a campaign called Cup of Warmth.
However, the event was left in the cold when only 20 people turned up. The paltry number did not stop the singer as she continued the meet-and-greet for the very few people who attended. Besides being a trooper, Jepsen was more than happy to help a good cause.
Fergie Oversang The National Anthem
Some people have certain expectations about how a gig is going to go. Usually, they will become overly excited about the prospect but want their expectations fulfilled. Singing the American national anthem is one gig that a lot of people imagine themselves performing.
When singer Fergie was tasked to take the stage at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, many had their doubts. But when Fergie started to sing her own version of the national anthem, it caused Stephen Curry to lose it and uncontrollably laugh—probably not the reaction she was looking to get.
Sly Stone’s Forgettable Coachella Performance
Sly Stone had been performing for a long time before he went and played at a 2010 gig at Coachella. However, his number will probably go down in history as one of his worst. For whatever reason, he did not bring his a-game that night.
Sly Stone, besides giving excited audiences a lackluster vocal performance, also ranted and spewed negativity all over the place. All in all, people were disappointed by the Sly and the Family Stone former member.
Stornoway Is A Super Trooper
Live shows need a lot of preparation. Rehearsals are a necessity, especially for musicians. It is not easy for anyone to improvise on the spot. But that is what Stornoway did in 2006 when they were presented with an unexpected challenge.
The band was meant to perform along with three other bands. However, only Stornoway showed up for the gig. The band had recently been heavily promoted by the eccentric antics of Tim Bearder, a radio DJ who locked himself in his own studio in order to promote them. The band was able to do well despite the unexpected circumstances.
Lindsay Lohan’s Lip-sync
Lindsay Lohan was a child actor who decided to branch out into the music business as she matured—similar to many of her peers. Lohan was doing her best to add a musical career to her resume, but she played it a little too safe.
As a way to make people aware of her music, Lohan performed on Good Morning America. She chose the song “Rumors” for the show. The single was from her then-upcoming album. Unfortunately, her debut performance only disappointed her own fans as well as critics when it became obvious she was not singing live. Instead, Lohan was actually lip-syncing her entire act.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers Live Experiment On SNL
Saturday Night Live can be hit or miss for artists. For the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was an opportunity to play and show their fans what they had going. However, the band’s guitarist, John Frusciante, decided to do something the rest of the band disagreed with, totally unprompted.
Anthony Kedis said in his autobiography, Scar Tissue, it felt like “getting stabbed in the back while Frusciante was off in a corner in the shadow, playing some dissonant out-of-tune experiment.” It does seem odd, especially when the experiment could have been easily done during rehearsal and not in front of a live audience.
The Sex Pistols Got Lazy At Winterland Ballroom
The Sex Pistols are one of the biggest bands in punk history. Despite their fame, the members were not known for having good chemistry with each other. This became obvious when the band performed at the Winterland Ballroom. Clearly, they were not in good musical shape.
It was later on when Johnny Rotten, the band’s lead singer, revealed that he had lost interest in the band as well as in writing songs. His comment complemented his remark on stage that night when he asked the audience, “Ever got the feeling like you’ve been cheated?” It’s highly likely the audience probably did.
Katy Perry’s 2017 Dud
Katy Perry is known for her roaring live show performances, so the same level of excellence was expected of her when she appeared on Saturday Night Live to promote her album. Unfortunately, the two musical numbers she prepared did not land well with the audience.
Her decision to dance on a fruit table while singing her single, “Bon Appetit,” didn’t help her get much applause. When Perry sang another song, “Swish Swish,” she decided that younger talent should be included. But having them do Fortnite dances did not spark her fans’ enthusiasm, and critics only looked on awkwardly.
Creed Lost Credence To Fans
Fans love to see their favorite bands perform live. They are willing to pay a lot of money to be in the presence of their idols, and they’ll do it over and over, as many times as they can, out of pride. Creed fans felt exactly this when they decided to show up to see the band.
But the show in Illinois in 2002 revealed how little effort Creed’s frontman, Scott Stapp, was willing to put into his vocals. His performance was so lackluster that fans ended up going home disappointed. A few even decided to sue because they didn’t feel they got their money’s worth.
Nickelback Pelted With Pebbles In Portugal
Nickelback was unfortunately on the receiving end of audience ire when they performed in Portugal back in 2002. The reason for the audience’s dislike for the band was unclear. But the fact that the band had bottles and rocks thrown in their direction implies that it was something serious.
As they were about to finish their second song, lead vocalist Chad Kreuger advised the crowd to stop. But the audience continued throwing bottles, one of which landed on Kreuger’s head. The band had no choice but to exit the stage and end the show.
Oasis’ Waning Fame In Wembley Stadium
Oasis couldn’t help but see how much of their popularity dropped when they performed at Wembley Stadium back in 2000. Their poor performance clearly didn’t help. Though Noel Gallagher appeared to be prepared for the show, the same could not be said for his brother Liam.
The audience witnessed firsthand how Liam tended to talk instead of sing in front of the mic. However, when he did sing, fans had to contend with his rendition of classic Oasis hits with intentionally incorrect lyrics.
50 Cent’s Dime-worthy Performance
50 Cent seemed ready to take the stage when he performed at the 2007 BET Awards. But when he started rapping, fans couldn’t help but feel confused. No one knew what was happening to the musician, but it seemed he incorrectly performed the first verse.
In order to compensate for his blooper, he greeted musicians in the crowd, including Snoop Dogg. 50 Cent later revealed that a dancer who accidentally bumped into him distracted his train of thought. Thus he dropped the incorrect lyrics.
Guns N’ Roses Booed In Dublin
Guns N’ Roses have established their reputation as a great band, especially for their performance during live shows. However, the band has occasionally been haunted by their own subpar performances, as well as walkouts. Still, they managed to come up on top in the end.
However, at a 2010 concert in Dublin, Axl Rose appeared on stage forty minutes late. The Dublin crowd booed the band off stage. They also threw objects at them out of anger. The band had no choice but to stop the show and exit.
Fergie’s Sour Version Of Sweet Child O’ Mine
The Super Bowl crowd is tough to impress. So when Black Eyed Peas decided to surprise the highly discerning crowd with a guest appearance of guitarist Slash, Super Bowl fans were pleasantly surprised and gave out a cheer of good faith.
As expected, the band performed a classic Guns N’ Roses song. Slash made the crowd go wild when he played the opening riff of the song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” It would have been great—if only Fergie hadn’t churned out a sub-par Axl Rose impression. Fergie probably should have used her own voice instead.
Nirvana Punished An Unruly Crowd
Musicians have a responsibility to perform the best way they can during concerts. Meanwhile, audiences similarly need to behave properly. When Nirvana performed in Buenos Aires, they had the all-woman group Calamity Jane to open for them. Unfortunately, the Nirvana fans in the audience didn’t seem to like them very much.
The crowd’s behavior was awful. They threw rocks at the opening act and even spit at the band. When Nirvana was finally on stage, Cobain wanted to bail out to get back at how the unruly audience treated Calamity Jane. However, instead of canceling the show, Cobain gave the crowd the worst performance ever—it was the band’s version of malicious compliance.
Katy Perry’s Faulty Fireworks
Katy Perry has always given the best performance in most of her concerts. However, no concert is perfect, and it is virtually impossible for all of her performances to be 100% perfect. So when she failed to meet expectations on the X-Factor, fans of the show were disappointed.
Though her number was not totally chaotic, there were lots of missed notes. Plus, her performance was described as lackluster. Even her most hardcore fans were not impressed, and the critics did not go easy on her.
Fyre Festival Was A Flop
The 2017 Fyre Festival was touted as one of the most promising musical festivals ever. An island was specially reserved for a concert which would allow audiences to experience a musical oasis of sorts. But the Fyre Festival literally fizzled into nothingness.
Concert-goers were surprised when they arrived on the island, and no live shows were included in the program. There were also no accommodations, and they were provided with very little food. Considering that they paid $1,500 to as much as $12,000 to attend the festival, it is safe to say they were probably scammed.
Woodstock 1969 will always go down in history as a legendary musical event. But the 1994 version of Woodstock was anything but. It was a far more dangerous event that many want to forget even happened. Mainly, it was mud that caused the event to fail.
It is also the reason it was renamed Mudstock. A downpour occurred on the second day, which led to fans throwing mud at each other. When the band Nine Inch Nails performed, all the members were covered in it even before they started to play.
Robin Thicke’s Paula Tour
Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” got the singer in trouble for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it was seen as disrespectful against women. Additionally, his live version of the song was also not a hit at the Video Music Awards.
Consequently, a tour followed for his album titled “Paula,” which Thicke dedicated to his ex-wife. Unfortunately, naming his album after his ex-wife and pausing during his live performances to beg his ex-wife to take him back didn’t help him—especially after his ex-wife accused him of abuse and infidelity.