NYC subway performances: Celebrity surprises that gave you commuter envy

By Meghan Giannotta

You’d be pretty sorry if you passed up a subway busker only to later find out it was your favorite artist in disguise.

Maroon 5 made headlines when the band slipped on wigs and dark sunglasses and pretended to be average street performers with Jimmy Fallon for an episode of the “Tonight Show.” The group isn’t the first to break out in song for unsuspecting New Yorkers, and certainly won’t be the last.

Though not exactly undercover, bands including U2 and Linkin Park have made subway platforms their stages, and yes, you missed it.

Here’s a look back at memorable subway station performances that’ll leave you actually feeling envious of commuters.

Jared Leto: Kicking off a tour

Photo Credit: Meghan Giannotta

Though technically not the subway, Jared Leto of Thirty Seconds To Mars surprised New Yorkers with free concert tickets at Penn Station on April 2, 2018. "Look at all you crazy people out here," Leto said to a crowd of a dozen that quickly multiplied to about 100 hovering fans. The singer was joined by a group of nine choir performers (who weren't actually choir performers, just backup singers in themed garb) in front of the entrance to tracks 18 and 19 inside Penn's Long Island Rail Road ticket area. Leto performed "Walk On Water" -- the first track off Thirty Seconds To Mars' album "America."

Maroon 5: An '80s throwback

Photo Credit: 'Tonight Show' via YouTube

Adam Levine and Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine belted out "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" at the 47th-50th Street subway station with Jimmy Fallon and the late-night host posted the surprise to YouTube on Nov. 21, 2017. A small crowd of fans began hovering around the talented trio early on, but a significant group ended up gathering around before Fallon could pull off his dramatic reveal.

Miley Cyrus: A party in NYC

Photo Credit: 'Tonight Show' via YouTube

We see you, Miley Cyrus. The singer threw a party in the 47th-50th Street subway station on June 14, 2017. The surprise performance was recorded as the opening sequence on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Cyrus got about halfway through a cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" before commuters realized who she was and formed a crowd around her.


Linkin Park: In the end ... of our commute

Photo Credit: ABC

Linkin Park surprised fans with a Grand Central Terminal performance during a "Good Morning America" taping, which aired Thursday, May 18, 2017. The crowd could probably relate (a little) to the band's old school 2000 hit "In the End" after a long ride on the subway, especially if any of them got stuck for track troubles. "Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings, watch it count down to the end of the day ..."

Brandy: I'm right here ...

Photo Credit: YouTube / ForeverBrandy

Brandy treated straphangers to a song in July 2015, but she did not get a very enthusiastic response. The "Right Here" singer, dressed in a hoodie and glasses, posted a now-deleted video to her blog of herself belting out a Whitney Houston song on the subway. No one figured out who she was. "Can a Sistah get ONE fan?!" she wrote on her blog.

U2: Still haven't found these subway buskers

Photo Credit: 'The Tonight Show' via YouTube

We're still waiting on the day we run into U2 at the 42nd Street subway station. Until then, we can relive the glorious day the band slipped on disguises and performed with Jimmy Fallon on the "Tonight Show" in May 2015. "Nobody knows this is going to happen. Nobody knows it's U2," Fallon said. "They're just going to get out there and do it." And that they did. Pretending to be "local artists," the "I Still Haven't Found" singers opened up a guitar case and asked for money. Several people walked by the talented group and when a crowd finally did form, Fallon ripped off his fake mustache to the sound of cheers and screams.

Michael Bublé: Who's lovin' this station

Photo Credit: Michael Bublé via YouTube

Michael Bublé -- suit, tie and all -- sang a cappella at the West 67th Street subway station in April 2013. There was already a crowd gathered around him by the time the video posted to his YouTube channel began. The band Naturally 7 joined as backup singers to perform 'Who's Lovin' You."