NEW YORK — Who says there’s no room for divas in the military? On Friday night, VH1 brought out the big guns in female music — plus their male backed bands — for “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops,” taped at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Paramore, Sugarland, Heart and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals all performed for the troops, along with special celebrity appearances.
Set in a large air hangar, hostess Kathy Griffin made a grand entrance atop a missile flanked by Marines, wearing nothing but a camouflage bikini. She set the tone for the night by reading the official USO rules for entertainers, and then proceeded to break every single one. Of course, the sharp-tongued comedian pointed out the divas that couldn’t be there: Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber. “Turns out he’s a dude,” Griffin joked.
(Click here to see photos from “VH1 Divas Salute The Troops”.)
The night’s first performance actually took place across the globe. Paramore taped their portion at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Hayley Williams (rocking cotton candy-colored hair) and company belted out “The Only Exception.”
Back in San Diego, the show really got started with pop pinup Katy Perry. Hanging from a harness that looked like an American flag parachute, Katy floated over the crowd while performing “California Gurls.” Decked out in full patriotic gear, Katy followed with “Teenage Dream” and “Hot and Cold.”
Next up were Sugarland , who were introduced by supermodel Marissa Miller and a special serviceman, Sugarland vocalist Jennifer Nettles’ brother. The country duo performed “Stuck Like Glue” with MC Lyte, and continued with “Tonight” and “All I Want to Do.”
Griffin returned with the biggest crowd favorites, “Jersey Shore” stars Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Griffin dubbed Snooki “Agent Orange” and made Mike agree to stay away from grenades. But really, they were there to introduce one of the standout performers of the night: newcomers Grace Potter & The Nocturnals .
Grace and her band started with the opening licks of the “Top Gun” theme song — after all, this was the same base where the classic ’80s flick was filmed. Decked out in a shimmery short dress and commanding a creamy flying V guitar, Grace jumped into “Paris (Ooh La La)” and “Medicine” before being joined by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart for their classic “Crazy on You.”
They closed out the set with a rousing rendition of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Next was Nicki Minaj , straight from the pages of an anime comic book. Rocking a curly pink wig, red and blue graphic dress and matching mint-green leggings and heels, the diva MC tore through her Pink Friday hits “Moment 4 Life,” “Right Thru Me” and “Roman’s Revenge.”
But before Nicki was finished she was joined by Perry for a playful performance of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Following the cover theme, Paramore were back in Kuwait with an epic rendition of the Foo Fighters’ anthem “My Hero.”
Keri Hilson kept the energy high with an aggressive performance of “Turning Me On,” following with “Knock You Down” and “Pretty Girl Rock.” She then joined Sugarland to cover Aretha Franklin’s “Think.”
Perry closed out the show in true diva form, with an explosive performance of “Firework,” complete with a massive spectacle of, well, fireworks. She dedicated the song to everyone serving in the military around the world. And just at that moment the camera spotted a Marine hoisting a sign that read “Katy, you’re our firework.”
For photos, videos and info on how you can salute the troops, head to the “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” page.