Allen Stone really means it when he says he spends his nights howling at the moon. Last night the up-and-coming soul star and our January You Oughta Know artist hit the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he gave his fellow late night howlers a show that was sure not to put them to “Sleep.”
The 25-year-old Washington native took the stage with his signature blonde curls tucked under a fedora, and with three backup singers and a backing band that counted an organist among its members. They were super concise, and Stone sort of bounces around the stage seemingly possessed by the jaunty and inspiring Allen Stone single. His father’s church that he began his career singing in is dwarfed by the Leno stage, and we suspect this guy will soon be playing even bigger, so apparently all those nights spent shooting at the stars have paid off. If Stone sleeps until noon today like he says he does in the song, he’s well earned the extra hours.
Here’s how you warm a winter’s late night. Last night little sister, shining star Solange dropped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to perform her most lovely single “Losing You.” Her hair worn big and with her partner in quirky charm Dev Hynes by her side, she lit up the stage (and also our hearts). The song’s a bit lanky, but she’s so cool and so calm and she just takes her time, seeming to be oh, it’s no big deal about the very good performance she was giving. There was an adorably bouncy choreographed dance break at the end, matching retro-y outfits for everyone onstage and a hipness that just radiates throughout the whole thing. Those Knowles girls, they’re stars, you know?
Last night, Ke$ha debuted her new single “C’Mon” on The X Factor in a pair of leather thigh high boots and with her bottle-blonde mane teased big. For most of the performance she stood alone on a platform, rolling around on the ground and performing stripper moves while singing astoundingly well. There were some lasers and projections of planets and tigers, but it seemed pretty pared down for a natural maximalist like K$. Until the song’s final breakdown that is, at which point her glowing palms summoned a troupe of foxes and a flurry of glitter. Phew! That’s our girl — a little rowdy, a little raunchy and a lot rock star. If Ke$ha wanted to do this every night we would certainly watch.
Where’s that “Umbrella” when you need it? Miraculously still on her feet after her whirlwind 777 Tour, Rihanna turned up on The X-Factor UK for a rather damp performance. Things began simple, the stage dark save for a glowing Rihanna in a curve hugging black gown and it seemed like she was going to play it straight and just sing. But then she made it rain, and not metaphorically, like she does in Unapologetic‘s dark strip club anthem “Pour It Up” — we’re talking literal raindrops falling from somewhere high above the X-Factor stage that left her dripping wet. She’s not the kind of girl that let’s a little mess slow her down though, and she belted her chart topper straight through to the end before breaking to wring her hair out.
Old pros Maroon 5 returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend for their fourth turn as musical guests. Donning matching red outfits, they played their reggae inflected “One More Night.” The Overexposed single has enjoyed a long run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts — the longest of the year, if you’ll believe it — and Adam Levine’s spirited performance lends new appeal into the song as it edges towards ubiquity. We have always thought Levine to be a little self-serious when it comes to his music, but he spent almost the entirety of his time on stage wiggling his hips and throwing his hands up in reverence to the highest notes, apparently still inspired by the song he’s been performing for almost six months now. Its nice to see him having fun, and — hey, it doesn’t hurt that red’s a nice color on him.
They returned later in the show in all gray uniforms to perform their new single, the more staid and moody “Daylight.”
Last night on The X Factor, Taylor Swift traded the top hat she donned for the MTV European Music Awards last weekend for a fedora; and rather then her go-to as of late, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” she opted to perform Red stand-out “State of Grace.” She stood alone at center stage — looking, we might add, a whole lot like Joni Mitchell, who she is rumored to be playing in an upcoming biopic — for a quiet first verse, while the audience shrieked impatiently. At the first chorus the song blows out into something much bigger, and the lights flashed on behind and she really, really began to sing. There were a few moments where her voice sounded a little shaky, but by the time she got around to explaining that “this is a worthwhile fight” while the lights flickered behind her, we were in full agreement that this just might be her golden age, good and right and real.
“State of Grace” may not be as obviously radio friendly as “Never Ever” or “I Knew You Were Trouble,” but this first live performance of it proved that it’s a sure crowd pleaser. What did you think of Taylor’s Joni Mitchell style? Do you think “State of Grace” could be a single?
Two years ago Mumford & Sons made their network television debut on the Late Show With David Letterman, giving a rousing performance of Sigh No More‘s “Little Lion Man,” and notably swapping the “f***ed it up” line for a more FCC friendly “messed it up.” Last night the fire and brimstone boys returned to New York, this time to perform “I Will Wait,” from their new album Babel, with all the same banjos and vests and close knit vocal harmonizing, but also with a horn section and — Marcus Mumford‘s toe tapping dialed up to Earth Rattling Stomp — even more bombast than their sprightly first go.
For nostalgia sake, check out Mumford & Sons’ network television debut below.
Rihanna was on Saturday Night Live over the weekend to perform her blindingly bright new single “Diamonds” and then new and truly beautiful Unapologetic track called “Stay.” On the album she’ll be joined by space-y singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko, but she stood alone on the SNL sound stage, with only a spare piano line and the occasional cymbal flourish to back her new-found voice.
“Stay” is a rare Rihanna ballad, and a patient and particularly emotive one at that. With the past few records, Rihanna’s found her grove with the sort of literally dazzling dance track that “Diamonds” is, tracks that make good on her unique but not not exactly impactful voice. But when “Diamonds” came out, we noticed that she was experimenting with her vocals and sounding at times almost like Sia or Lana Del Rey. She took that one step further with “Stay,” a song that finally has her really singing. And so she might still be singing about Chris Brown (“Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay.”), but at least she’s doing it in a different way. We just even more excited about Apologetic‘s release next week.