Viewers were finally able to see what the Weeknd and Lauryn Hill had planned for Grammy night before Hill’s last-minute cancellation as the former Fugees singer made a surprise appearance on Friday’s The Tonight Show to join Abel Tesfaye on his “In the Night.” The pair delivered an intense rendition of the Beauty Behind the Madness track, with Hill and the Weeknd bouncing off one another vocally as his backing band ratcheted up behind them, resulting in a climatic finish.
In what was the worst kept secret going into Monday’s Grammys, Hill and the Weeknd had originally planned to perform “In the Night” together on Music’s Biggest Night, but Hill ultimately nixed her appearance, with the singer’s rep telling Rolling Stone, “The performance was also supposed to be a surprise.” The element of surprise played a vital role in The Tonight Show‘s performance as Hill’s presence wasn’t advertised, host Jimmy Fallon only introduced the Weeknd and Hill didn’t step out onstage until two minutes into the song.
After Hill skipped out on the Grammys, leaving the Weeknd to perform the track by himself, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said, “It’s a disappointment to us and a disappointment to her. Our intention was, and we were ready, right up to the moment of the performance, for her to step up on stage.”
In a statement Monday night after the no-show, Hill’s rep said, “The Grammys announced a performance by Ms. Lauryn Hill prematurely and without approval. Ms. Hill had concerts all weekend, leaving no time to prepare, and was uncertain she would even be able to make it to LA in time to rehearse for the event, Any performance that could have happened was never confirmed, and should not have been advertised as such.”
The statement went on to call the Weeknd “an artist she appreciates.” In a follow-up statement to Rolling Stone regarding Grammy night, Hill’s rep added, “Ms. Hill truly appreciated the invitation, and the efforts made by all parties to try and make the performance happen.” Thankfully, Hill and the Weeknd were able to make the performance happen Friday night.