The 8 Most Unusual Unplugged Concerts

A look at MTV's most unexpected, unsettling or unhinged acoustic performances

A look at MTV’s most unexpected, unsettling or unhinged acoustic performances

Photo: Jeff Davy / Retna Ltd. | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

MTV is rolling out a new season of Unplugged, the famed concert series you didn’t know was still on, beginning this Sunday with Florence and the Machine. While we place bets on Florence’s hair to costume color contrast, revisit some of Unplugged’s weirdest performances in its 20+ year history. Kraftwerk and/or Skrillex, we’re still saving the number one spot for you.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry




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Anyone who listens to Katy Perry -- that means anyone with a radio and ears -- knows that her stuff is heavily produced, and thus requires lots of things with plugs. So what does an acoustic Perry sound like? Um, it’s “jazzy.” And we really don’t know how to feel about it.


What makes this one weird isn’t the band’s handling of its own songs; it’s the random covers of “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “You Know You’re Right.” We may not hold the musical stylings of Duran Duran as sacred, but we’re positive we never want to hear Courtney Love’s take on it ever again.


All you need to know about this one is that an acoustic version of “Freak on a Leash” does, in fact, exist. Now go explain to your little cousins that Korn was once a band.

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny can be an out-there guy, but it isn’t his usual antics that make this one a head-scratcher. Songs like “Are You Gonna Go My Way” lose their oomph when stripped down, and Lenny performs a good chunk of the tracks, even less frantic ones like “Mr. Cab Driver,” totally plugged. Respect the rules of the game, sir!


We’re not opposed to arena rock bands on Unplugged as a principle -- Aerosmith and plenty more did a fine job -- but when you strip KISS of their face paint and electric guitars, they stop being KISS and start being that group of chill old dudes who somehow wound up playing at your local bar. And without the makeup, we can’t tell which one is Shaggy 2 Dope.


Every Bjork performance is bizarre, and this one’s no different. The concert might be tame by Bjork standards, but it still features glasses of water and some kind of modified kitchen strainer as musical instruments. Just because something makes sound, that doesn’t mean it’s an instrument. Case in point: We don’t call our chatty intern an instrument.

LL Cool J

By far the most fit human being to ever appear on MTV’s Unplugged, we thought this would be the strangest thing “Ladies Love” ever did. A few years later he outdid himself by comparing his hat to a shark’s fin.


We dare you to watch this acoustic performance of “Heading for a Heartbreak” without staring in total confusion or giggling. If only Whitesnake had showed up to duet. Whitesnake, we hope you’re reading this...because that means you’re still alive.