If you want to make Beyoncé slightly more epic, just add The Roots. We know this because that’s exactly what happened this weekend on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Performing “Countdown,” Beyoncé foregoes her signature hyper-choreographed moves in favor of a more subdued, sexy performance. And it’s pretty damn sexy — even when the girl isn’t really moving, damn, can she move! Complete with hip-defining costume and wind machine, Bey proves why she’s the King; even with an amazing band (and they are amazing) like The Roots behind her, all you can think while watching is “Oh Bey!”
(NOTE: For those of you wondering why she looks not-at-all preggo in this video, it’s because this performance was taped over the summer and just aired for the first time on Friday night. H/T to Matt Perpetua for the scoop.)
Oh hello, three legends all in one room at the same time making silly jokes and singing a capella together! Last night on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert hosted Brian Eno, but who needs boring chats about “new projects” and “music” when you can memorialize R.E.M‘s (R.I.P, sad face!) Michael Stipe as a trophy on a shelf and have him sing “Lean On Me” with you? So happy Friday! This is pretty much the most awesome thing ever, you’re welcome.
On last night’s episode of The X Factor, 13-year-old schoolchild sensation Rachel Crow tore the house down with her performance of Etta James‘ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” It inspired an interesting contrast in the judges’s reactions; Simon Cowell looked like a giddy school boy the entire way through the epic performance—the only time you ever see him smile like this is when he knows he’s found himself a cash cow—while Nicole Scherzinger looked as if she might lose it at any moment. We’re with Simon though — Crow’s performance was breathtakingly spectacular, and we’re thinking the girl might be a serious contender for top spot. So, with that in mind, we’re officially adding Rachel Crow to our list of reasons why The X Factor is better than Idol (especially if she promises to change her shoes!).
Are you in love with Jose Gonzales? If you’re not, you have a cold, cold heart — the singer/songwriter is absolutely alluring, and his whimsical brand of music simply dreamy. The Swedish born Argentinian Gonzalez appeared with his band, Junip, last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing “In Every Direction” and “Always” (above). With Gonzales’ enthralling, soft vocal and the gentle brushing of guitar chords, Junip is like listening to the air whispering in the trees on some fantasy planet…
This weekend on Saturday Night Live, Maroon 5 sang Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts,” accompanied by GCH frontman Travie McCoy. And there was not a fleck of skin in sight as both Adam Levine and McCoy sported heavily tattooed arms as they performed side-by-side. Soulful and summery, “Stereo Hearts” effortlessly combines Levine’s r’n'b influenced pop sound with McCoy’s laid back rapping style. Not to mention all the kinds of good looking happening on stage as the two musicians sang together!
The big winner at the fifth annual BET Hip-Hop Awards last night was, as we predicted, “Look At Me Now,” taking home Best Hip Hop Video, Reese’s Perfect Combo Award, Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse (Busta Rhymes), and People’s Champ Award powered by Verizon. But the performance of the night went to future VH1 reality star T.I.. Sure, we loved the cypher, and we will always cheer for a performance by Heavy D, no matter how inexplicable, but T.I.’s homecoming performance won the night.
We may be getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. The two-song Atlanta-repping performance kicked off with Young Jeezy, ringed by fire, spitting his new single “F.A.M.E.,” for which T.I. joined him onstage, providing his guest verse without stealing the spotlight. Then he kicked into “I’m Flexin’,” and even without support from Big K.R.I.T. he absolutely killed it, even jumping into the crowd and welcoming attendees to his city, even as they were welcoming him home from prison. Attention, Atlanta: your king’s back.
Two Door Cinema Club were met by an extremely enthusiastic crowd last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! By now, though, the You Oughta Know alums should be used to it; their crowds have gotten bigger and more enthusiastic all year. And while it might not be super-thrilling at home to see another performance of “What You Know” (a single from February! Kimmel gets lots of great guests really late in their promotional cycles) the audience hardly seemed to mind. For that matter, “What You Know” also thrilled the crowd at last month’s MTV Hive Live in NYC show, which is now available to stream if you want to see what was a great show from these favorites of ours.
Over on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Bootsy Collins (sadly, sans space bass), Mark Mothersbaugh (surprisingly, with keytar), Biz Markie, Erykah Badu,Leslie Hall, and of course Black Thought of The Roots each had a turn on the mic for the funky Yo Gabba Gabba! jam “We’re Gonna Party Today.” We’re not exactly sure how much appeal the jams have for kids, but if we were parents we’d love the old-school hip-hop vibe. They even dedicated their performance to the memory of Sugarhill Records co-founder Sylvia Robinson! Check it out:
It’s sort of astonishing to realize that J. Cole made his network television debut last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Television appearances aren’t essential to record sales, exactly, but they’re certainly part of a promotional cycle, and Cole’s appearance came a week after his record debuted?and four months after “Work Out,” the single he performed, hit radio.
Of course, when you sell over 200,000 copies of your debut, hitting #1 in a week that saw five other top ten debuts (including new releases from Blink-182 and Wilco) and reissues of two evergreen best-sellers (Pink Floyd’sThe Dark Side Of The Moon and Nirvana’sNevermind), maybe a television performance is an afterthought. The sideline story is quickly being retconned into anything but, as scores of observers swallow comparisons to Memphis Bleek. Meanwhile, the crowd at Kimmel ate up his performance. It has to be good to be J. Cole right now.
Sting appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman yesterday, ostensibly to promote his three-CD, one-DVD best-of box set Sting: 25 Years, but just as much to continue celebrating his birthday (he turned 60 on Sunday). How else to explain his song selection? Radiohead’s set may have had a co-introduction by Michael Stipe?who popped up beside Jimmy Fallon almost as though the Late Night host hadn’t known he’d be there?but only Sting would play a song that he recorded in 1993 as the theme to a film named for a Grace Jones song that Sting himself had written in 1981. That’s right: Sting played “Demolition Man”?which isn’t even on any of the CDs in the box set (though it is performed during the Irving Plaza concert on the DVD). You have to respect that the guy could have played any of his singles, or a new song, or basically whatever he wanted, and he picked the theme song to a sci-fi satire starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
Yesterday was a winner for late-night music, no matter which show you were watching: the performances were great across the board, and Jimmy Fallon augmented Pink Floyd Week with an appearance by famed rock photographer Mick Rock. Our favorite music moment last night was probably David Letterman’s teasing introduction of Death Cab for Cutie before their Late Show performance of “Stay Young, Go Dancing”: “They’ve got a guy [Chris Walla] back there at the piano?beautiful piano?and he’s also got a guitar. I’ve never seen that before. And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, get another guy!’”
Our pick for the best performance, though, goes to Portugal. The Man’s television debut on Conan, by a hair. Confession time: we haven’t really paid much attention to the band since they released 2009′s much-hyped?in certain circles?The Satanic Satanist, which didn’t do much for us. As it happens, the song they performed, “So American,” comes from July’s In The Mountain In The Cloud, which is the second LP they’ve released since The Satanic Satanist?and they’ve apparently improved significantly as songwriters during this moderately prolific period, because they sounded way better yesterday than we remember them being. We definitely have to check up on what we’ve missed.