Tuned In

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Tuned In: Foo Fighters Team With Roger Waters—Plus Pop Karaoke With Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Dave Grohl has been all over music news lately for his contributions to Nevermind, the Nirvana album that was released twenty years ago this week. So we took a certain bizarre delight in seeing his Foo Fighters on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon yesterday, backing Roger Waters of Pink Floyd for a rendition of “In The Flesh.” We’re not sure whether the collaboration is simply a useful reminder of Grohl’s self-proclaimed rock stalwart status?indicating that despite the generational shift that Nirvana seemed to indicate, the band fits quite snugly in the rock canon?or a nose-thumbing at that very idea, but intentionally or otherwise, the performance was a total riff on nostalgia. And it sounded great! Plus it’s always nice to see that we and Questlove agree that Pat Smear is the best.

If that wasn’t enough riffing, the episode also featured a “karaoke” segment, in which Jimmy Fallon and guest Joseph Gordon-Levitt showcased their impressions of David Bowie and Axl Rose, respectively. Check out their takes on Foster The People, Kelly Clarkson, and Lady Gaga after the jump.
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Tuned In: Radiohead Rock An Hourlong Colbert Report

We weren’t entirely thrilled by Radiohead‘s weekend appearance on Saturday Night Live, but that didn’t stop us from tuning in to see them during last night’s hour-long episode of The Colbert Report?and we’re glad we did. Even before they performed, the band gave one of their best interviews in years, in no small part because Stephen Colbert was more interested in making the members laugh than hearing what they had to say. “Who’s better at saving the world, you guys or Bono?” he asked. “Bono, definitely,” frontman Thom Yorke gamely responded.

Then the band launched into The King of Limbs b-side “The Daily Mail,” followed by “Bloom” and “Little By Little.” Each of these songs sounded more invigorated here than either of the songs they performed this weekend, but we specifically want to highlight the Kid A track with which they closed the show: “The National Anthem,” embedded above. The cynical political song sounds as good as ever, and was a perfect fit for The Colbert Report (which may be why the band went into their back catalog at all). The full episode, including a web-exclusive performance of “Codex,” is available to stream.

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Tuned In: Wilco Gets Love On Letterman



Wilco proved that a little Vox organ preset goes a long way when they played yesterday on The Late Show. After an introduction that only David Letterman could give (“Their new album is called Go Sit In The Truck!“?was he making a “dad-rock” joke?), the band launched into “Born Alone” from next week’s The Whole Love, a great Nuggets-influenced single. Though in retrospect it’s not that odd that Wilco looked to garage rock for a poppier sound on their new record, we would never have predicted it, but we’re into it. The band also played an hourlong set that’s now streaming at Live on Letterman, playing a bunch of new tracks intermingled with songs from as early as 1999, capping off a day of rock on the late night shows that also included The Kooks on The Tonight Show and Elbow on Late Night.

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Tuned In: Kelly Clarkson Brings “Mr. Know It All” To Leno

Yesterday’s late night music lineup may as well have been a VH1 showcase. The only musical performer we haven’t explicitly championed at some point appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon?after an interview with this month’s Posted artist Demi Lovato. Such a jam-packed lineup does make it difficult to choose the best performance of the night, but we have to give the edge to Kelly Clarkson, who made her first appearance in support of Stronger yesterday on The Tonight Show, where she performed single “Mr. Know It All.”

Clarkson has always had a great voice and an even better sense of how to use it?a fact that makes her live performances thrilling (and certainly contributed to her Idol win). So we were excited to hear her breathing more life into “Mr. Know It All,” a song that we already like but that she opened up for us further with her performance last night. (If we don’t sound quite as enthusiastic as we could, that might be because we not-so-secretly think that, were the situation not so dire out there for rock bands, we think that Clarkson would be a killer frontwoman with serious riffs behind her. But we try not to let that affect our judgment too much.) We are definitely looking forward to Stronger (and to the “Mr. Know It All” video, which should arrive somewhat sooner).

After the jump, see Demi Lovato’s interview on Late Night (introduced by The Roots with a reworded Styx cover: “Domo Arigato, Demi Lovato”) and links to the other performances.
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Tuned In: Selena Gomez Returns To The Tonight Show In Fine Form



Selena Gomez and the Scene‘s second When The Sun Goes Down single “Love You Like a Love Song” may have been released over three months ago (appearing briefly on our Song Of The Summer charts in July), but Gomez and band proved it’s still got promotional legs yesterday on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. After the performed self-absorption that was Simon Cowell‘s guest interview (featuring a reiteration of his on-camera grievances with Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger for the benefit of the Tonight Show audience) the electro-pop throwback (a friend of mine likened it to a lost Olivia Newton-John single) was quite refreshing. Though the limitations of television make the song’s appeal feel more rooted in the talents of teenpop songwriters-of-the-moment Rock Mafia, Gomez nevertheless acquits herself well.

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Tuned In: Needtobreathe Have Drive On Leno

Needtobreathe made their television debut on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno yesterday?no small feat for a young band. Once they launched into “Drive All Night,” though, the fortuitous billing made perfect sense. Needtobreathe, it turns out, exist sonically somewhere between Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, but enough of their own pop personality to distinguish them as more than mere copycats of either. They impressed Taylor Swift enough to score an opening slot on her Speak Now tour, and they seem to have impressed the Tonight Show audience as well.

Meanwhile, chillwave standard-bearers Neon Indian wowed not only host Jimmy Fallon but also the Late Night studio audience, with help from the Creators Project, who were responsible for Arcade Fire‘s much-lauded Coachella light show. Check out their latest dreamy smooth-80s pastiche “Polish Girl” after the jump.
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Tuned In: Cobra Starship Get The Right Feel On Leno

Monday may have been Legacy Night on NBC’s late shows, with country legend Glen Campbell celebrating his 100th birthday on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the influential psych-pop Zombies playing Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but yesterday was another story entirely. Much-buzzed indie-rockers Girls played Fallon, and Cobra Starship led the night with an on-point rendition of the trancey single, featuring Sabi, that they also performed during the 2011 VMAs pre-show. The project of Midtown frontman Gabe Saporta, Cobra Starship once seemed an ironic joke that wasn’t quite funny (thanks in part to an inauspicious Snakes On A Plane tie-in of a debut single). In the ensuing years, though?not least last night?the band has more than made clear how serious they are, and actually have been pretty forward-thinking in the process. Fun, not funny. Got it, Cobra Starship.

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Tuned In: Pearl Jam Premiere “Olé” On Fallon

Tom Selleck may have been the top-billed guest yesterday on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but make no mistake: it was the Pearl Jam show. Early in the show, Eddie Vedder assisted Jimmy Fallon with a reprise of parody/BP protest song “Balls In Your Mouth”, and the night’s other guests was director Cameron Crowe, talking about his Pearl Jam documentary, due out later this month.

So when the band took the stage, the crowd was ready?or so they thought, until the band launched into not one of their many hits, or even their numerous B-sides, but a brand new song that they hadn’t even played at their festival this past weekend. “Olé” is a fun, hard-charging rocker, and the band turned out a great performance. Can’t wait to hear a studio version? It’s already available for free download from the band’s website. Wish the band would play more? They’ll be on Fallon again tomorrow night. Any more questions?

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Tuned In: Dave Grohl’s Talks “Real Rock n’ Roll,” Glee, And Cloris Leachman’s Love Of Adele On Chelsea Lately

Dave Grohl made a guest appearance on Chelsea Lately last night?not to play music, but to talk VMAs with host Chelsea Handler (who of course emceed last year’s VMA ceremony).?With no musical guest on The Late Show and Kristin Chenoweth and Chris Colfer on The Tonight Show, yesterday may have seemed the perfect opportunity to repeat a cry for “real” rock music, and to clarify his much-quoted comment to the Hollywood Reporter, “F?k Glee.”

Grohl remains one of the nicest guys in music, and we love seeing him tell stories and wave goofily, even though he’s starting to sound like an old man when talking about music. In he interview he refers to the use of “computers” as “cheating,” and pointedly notes that when the Foo Fighters play live, it sounds like “five guys beating the s?t out of their instruments,” making an implicit contrast with artists who faithfully reproduce their recorded songs live. (Don’t count on the Foos playing The Colour and the Shape start to finish anytime soon.) We wouldn’t have the Foos any other way, but we certainly don’t want every artist to embrace this philosophy.?

As for Glee, well, far be it from us to say that Grohl should take lessons from Lady Gaga about artifice, but when a guy praises Kiss and Queen in one breath and spits out the word “musical” with derision in the next, there’s a bit of a disconnect. That said, Glee is more like professional karaoke than a Top 40 jukebox musical, and we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for nineties dudes who insist you don’t have to sell out to anyone. DIY-or-die may not be a requirement, but it’s always an option.

Our favorite bit of this interview, though, was Grohl’s anecdotes about Cloris Leachman at the 2011 VMAs. He told Handler that she spent the ceremony in slippers, and when Adele performed, the actress went right up to the stage to watch, camera crew be damned. Right on, Cloris! Who’s gonna tell you not to?

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Tuned In: The Jim Jones Revue Cut Loose On Letterman

Why are British musicians so good at revivalist music? It’s a question we pondered as we watched London’s Jim Jones Revue tear up the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theatre yesterday on The Late Show With David Letterman. The band considers itself a proud member of a garage rock tradition?Jones himself was a member of Thee Hypnotics?but last night’s “High Horse” was very much rockabilly in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis, albeit with a ragged garage sensibility (think punk with precision). And yet the song is very much pop of today, not some exhumed museum piece. The way in which the band combines current and past elements kind of reminds us of Mumford & Sons, actually.

It helps that the band practically left scorch marks on the stage. Frontman Jones stomped all over, even leaning out over the audience and all but erasing the barrier between crowd and talent. After the song, Letterman, obviously impressed, but never without a punchline, riffed, “This is the part where the mayor bans dancing.”?Back in March Taylor Hanson told us that based on the band’s studio recordings, the Jim Jones Revue was one of his most anticipated acts at this year’s South by Southwest. We can’t imagine that he was disappointed.

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