There are times when an artist’s popularity skyrockets due to a messy scandal or relationship with someone more famous than them.
But there are also cases where singers shoot to superstardrom due to a one-off performance so amazing or ground-breaking that the world can’t help but sit up and take notice.
Here we look at ten performances that turned stars into superstars literally overnight.
Madonna at the VMAs of 1984
Nobody alive at the time will forget the performance Madonna gave at the VMAs of 1984, where she sang Like a Virgin.
Madge, dressed as a bride, began her performance on top of a cake next to mannequin dressed as a groom.
She then made her way down to the stage — before shocking everyone in the audience and at home by lying on top of her veil to perform a choreographed masturbation scene.
The audience were audibly stunned and as soon as she went backstage her manager told her that her career would probably be over by the following morning.
Instead the performance helped give her career a 180 degree turn and she rocketed to superstardom. Gianni Versace was correct — sex definitely sells.
Beyonce at the VMAs of 2003
In 2003, Beyonce was just starting to pave her way as a solo artist. Ms. Knowles released her solo album Dangerously in Love, which received rave reviews all around the world and she gained a lot of popularity.
But it wasn’t until she performed at the VMAs in 2003 that she really hit the heights of fame. Her performance is regarded by industry experts as one of the best VMA performances of all time.
Beyonce made a grand entrance on the stage by coming in upside down suspended from the ceiling.
She began by singing Baby Boy before moving on to sing Crazy in Love accompanied by Jay Z.
The combination of Beyonce’s dance skills, clothes, make-up, attitude and stage presence put her well and truly on the map.
Ricky Martin at the Grammys of 1999
Not a lot of people outside of Latin America knew who Ricky Martin was until he appeared in the Grammys in 1999, where he performed The Cup of Life accompanied by a handful of backup singers.
The song is in Spanish and English, which resulted in a lot of press attention as a Spanglish song had never been performed in an awards show in the United States before.
Music executive Tommy Mottola, former head of Sony Music, is the person who convinced the suits in charge of the Grammys to give Ricky Martin a shot — and it paid off.
Throughout the performance, Ricky looked like a pro with total control of the stage.
At the end of his performance, he ran up a set of steps and ended with a pose that was waiting for a standing ovation. It duly came — from the entire audience.
Chris Brown at the VMAs of 2007
Before he hit Rihanna in the face, Chris Brown was the sweetheart of Hip Hop and R&B music.
He began his career in 2005 and ranked highly in the popularity stakes, but the performance he gave at the 2007 VMAs is what really helped his career really take off.
It began with him acting and dancing like a mannequin before he broke out of character and began to showcase urban dance moves alongside a couple of male dancers.
The VMAs that year took place in Las Vegas, which caused the staging to be a bit different. Artists were sitting around tables, which Chris Brown then used as stages.
He jumped from table to table showing off his impressive dance skills. Rihanna also made a short appearance on stage, with the pair dancing together for just a couple of seconds.
As Rihanna left, Chris Brown made a Michael Jackson impression in front of a classic MTV logo, which caused a great deal of commotion among the audience.
Chris ended his performance by showcasing his signature dance moves alongside two young kids. After he finished, a string of artists saluted him, including P. Diddy.
Michael Jackson at Motown’s 25th Anniversary
Yes, before he showed everybody his moonwalk Michael Jackson was already a huge star around the globe due to the success of his album Thriller.
But it was the moonwalk itself that took his popularity to the next level. He sealed himself in legend when he first did it publicly on March 25, 1983, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for the Motown 25th Anniversary Special, which was aired by NBC two months later.
To this day, the moonwalk is considered Michael Jackson’s signature dance, and it is frequently imitated around the globe.
Miley Cyrus at the VMAs of 2013
Before Miley Cyrus performed at the VMAs in 2013, she was just an actress that was trying to be taken seriously as a singer.
Apparently that wasn’t working, so she decided to “make history” at the VMAs.
Miley arrived on stage by emerging from a giant teddy bear with her tongue hanging out (it hardly went back in her mouth for the duration of the performance).
She started by dancing alongside a couple of female dancers and bear mascots before Robin Thicke showed up on stage and began to sing Blurred Lines.
When Miley started twerking, history was made.
Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock, 1957
Yes, in 1957, Elvis Presley was already a huge star.
But what really helped him become a music icon was his dance scene in the movie Jailhouse Rock, which garnered him the title The King of Rock and established him as the most important pioneer of the rock genre.
In this scene, Elvis Presley can be seen dancing alongside a couple of his “jail mates” — his legendary hips swinging in a way the world had never seen before.
Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
In 1953, Marilyn Monroe was gaining a lot of popularity around the globe, but her role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes sent that popularity into overdrive.
Marilyn had a scene in the movie where she performed the song Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend while dancing alongside a group of groomed gentlemen.
The scene immediately became iconic, and the woman who sang it became an icon.
Ritchie Valens Singing La Bamba at a festival
(The original video of Ritchie performing is not available, but this video is from the movie)
Ritchie Valens is considered a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer and a forefather of the Chicano rock movement.
Even though his recording career lasted only eight months, he instantly became a sensation around the globe when his La Bamba single came out.
Feeling nervous, Ritchie had decided to sing the song for the first time at a festival. He caused a lot of commotion with the rendition, which went down a storm with the crowd.
Sadly there were no video cameras to record his amazing performance, but he became a sensation thanks to word of mouth.
Whitney Houston at the Grammys of 1986
The year 1986 was a big one for Whitney Houston, as her debut album had sold millions of copies and was still selling at great numbers.
She also received a handful of awards, but it was when she performed Saving All My Love for You at the Grammys that she became an icon overnight.
The performance was hugely powerful, and got her a standing ovation. The next day, headlines around the world told the story of how a star had been born at the Grammys the previous night.