When the 51st Annual Grammy Awards touched down in Los Angeles on February 8, 2009, Lil Wayne, Coldplay, and Adele were among the evening’s biggest winners. As much applause as they received for their golden trophies, though, it paled in comparison to the deafening shrieks elicited by Grammy rookies Jonas Brothers.
At the time, the trio — Nick, 16, Joe, 19, and Kevin, 21 — were the certified kings of the teen pop world. 2008 had been their breakout year, marked by their hit third album (A Little Bit Longer, which handily debuted at No. 1), a mega-popular Disney Channel Original Movie (Camp Rock, the biggest thing since High School Musical), a Rolling Stone cover, and announcements of future tours, TV shows, and a 3D concert movie. Despite their near ubiquitousness, though, the band had been dismissed by many critics as House of Mouse-generated pop fluff, which made their Grammy nomination for Best New Artist later that year even sweeter.
“When you start in a band as an artist you say, ‘One day, I’ll be nominated for a Grammy.’ It happened, and we’re just so honored,” Nick told MTV News moments after the nomination announcement in December 2008. “As young guys, we know that this is a privilege, and we do appreciate that. We’re grateful.”
Two months later, the brothers would show up at the awards show dressed the part of future Vogue cover stars. They wore sharp designer tuxedos (Burberry and Versace, thankyouverymuch), and their doting mom, Denise, even joined them to brave the onslaught of flashbulbs that followed them down the red carpet.
About halfway through the ceremony, Kanye West and Estelle took the mic to announce the nominees for Best New Artist: Adele, Duffy, Lady Antebellum, Jazmine Sullivan, and the definite outliers amongst the female-powered group, the JoBros. Adele emerged victorious, but as sad a loss as it was for the group, their big night was only getting started.
The Grammys are known for hosting out-of-left-field collaborations, and JB’s first and only performance on the show was no different — they busted out a medley of their A Little Bit Longer hit “Burnin’ Up” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” accompanied by the legend himself. It opened with Wonder singing “Burnin’ Up” into a vocoder, before the trio took over in rollicking fashion.
The performance itself was just crazy enough to work — JB had busted out live renditions of “Superstition” at their own shows, so they clearly knew and loved the classic. Performing it with Wonder is a totally different story, but they tackled it with unbridled energy, as a scarf-wearing Nick and a vest-rocking Joe traded vocals, curly-headed Kevin shredded on guitar, and Nick’s puberty-ridden voice repeatedly called out, “C’mon, Steve-ay!”
Though the brothers went home empty-handed that night, it was still a win in their book. They told Reuters the week after the show, “There’s a little disappointment, but the performance was a win for us. That was such a perfect opportunity and a perfect collaboration. … We were blown away.”
Jonas Brothers sadly never returned to the show as a group — they disbanded in 2013, though reunion rumors abound — but 10 years later, we’ll always remember the night these heartthrobs burned the Grammys up.