Two super-charged performances of “Cut Me Some Slack” and one leaked studio version later, we are fully prepared to accept what was totally unthinkable not one week ago: that the Paul McCartney/Nirvana collaboration is a real and rocking thing.
When word of the team-up first broke last week, there were cries of heresy — Courtney Love, reasonably distressed by the thought of a Kurt Cobain-less Nirvana, leading that charge — and implausibility, but then Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear (aka the surviving members of Nirvana) all showed up with Macca to play their new song at the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief and it rocked so hard that it seemed totally reasonable to cut them some slack, if you will.
The new crew turned up again over the weekend, performing “Cut Me Some Slack” underneath tinsel and besides a Christmas tree on Saturday Night Live, and and handily killing it once more and making it even harder for us to deny that this whole McVana thing might actually be sort of awesome. And then the very good studio-version that found its way to the internet this weekend and now we know for sure that this collaboration is a thing we love, most of all because of that nice moment halfway through the song when the harmony hits and breathes a little Beatles into the otherwise shattering rock song. Consider our calenders marked for Grohl’s forthcoming Nirvana documentary Sound City, which is slated to feature “Cut Me Some Slack” on the soundtrack.
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.”
Just hours after Rihanna performed her single “Diamonds” on Saturday Night Live in front of a backdrop seemingly pulled right off Tumblr dashboards, Azealia Banks dropped a music video for “Atlantis” that featured similar Lisa-Frank-Meets-Seapunk aesthetics. Was it purely coincidence or did Rihanna’s SNL performance and Azealia Banks’ new video for “Atlantis” both pull from the same Internet aesthetic? And do either of them have to answer to the crew of Internet artists that have been calling foul?
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.
Silly as it may be to have Louis C.K. introduce them as such, fun. really are exactly that: fun. They’re sound is always tight and their performances heartfelt, and frontman Nate Ruess inevitably winds up bouncing around the stage like it’s electrified. Their performance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend proved no exception, as it was necessarily spirited for a city still wringing itself out after a week of scary weather.
His trench coat on (can’t knock the preparedness) and his hair a tad unkempt (but who are we to judge, we only peeled-off our hurricane leggings this morning), Ruess belted out the indie-pop trio’s latest and buzzy chart entry “Some Nights,” playing with auto-tune at the end for longer than usual, before signing off with their appropriately resilient “Carry On.”
Bruno Mars put in extra-overtime on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, hosting and performing. Mars isn’t the first to pull this double duty — Taylor Swift, Mick Jagger and Justin Timberlake, in most recent memory — but he may have been the first to host, perform and to still have the energy to debut a brand new song all in the same episode. How’s that for efficiency?
The new Unorthodox Jukebox cut Mars performed is called “Young Wild Girls,” an emotional ballad about the bad girls that Mars just can’t quit. “Oh you young wild girls, you make a mess of me,” goes the hook. And then when the camera gets close, you can see the strain of the veins in his neck and the sweat beginning to bead on his forehead because this love for these young wild girls is nothing short of dire: “Yeah you young wild girls, you’ll be the death of me.”
Having proven too tempting last week for Frank Ocean, producers seem to have removed all those cool vintage video games from the Saturday Night Live sound stage. And so instead, in line together at the front of the stage, Mumford & Sons played their performance without any of the skit show’s gimmick and earnest like they’re wont to be. They galloped first through a brass-backed version of “I Will Wait,” and then they returned for “Below My Feet,” something new off of their long awaited sophomore album Babel, which is out tomorrow. Mumford frontman Marcus mostly led the later, looking tired but dapper in his neck-tie and suit vest combo, playing his guitar and the kick drum simultaneously as he wailed along: “Let me learn from where I’ve been, keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.” Those tuned-in who weren’t already on board with Mumfordmania were surely won over. Read more…
One of examples of Frank Ocean‘s superb songwriting/storytelling skills is his imagination. Pyramids are usually automatically associated with Egypt by default, but Frank being anything but ordinary turned “Pyramids” into the place where strippers dwell. A day after kicking off Saturday Night Live‘s 15th season with a live performance accompanied by John Mayer, the visual to his wildly popular “Pyramids” hit the ‘net. And as expected, alas, there are strippers. Directed by Nabil, the eight minute video owes its aesthetic appeal to the numerous special effects. The bending lamp posts, the multiple Frank Oceans, the blinking fluorescent lights, they are all somewhat mesmerizing. John Mayer’s guitar performance in the middle of the desert is easily one of the highlights. Although the strippers are the focal point of the song, they serve as merely a backdrop in the video, despite their obvious presence. Now that we’ve seen the women “working at the pyramids tonight” the mystique is gone, for now. Until the next time you watch the video. Have a look at some of the awesome gifs from the video. Read more…
Frank Ocean kicked off Saturday Night Live‘s 15th season with two stellar showings. As predicted, he performed a stripped down and extra-soulful “Thinkin Bout You” and then the second half of his stripper anthem “Pyramids,” his “bro” John Mayer accompanying on the guitar for both and a full vintage arcade set up behind him. Ocean still seems a little timid when he performs, and sort of like he did in that oddly straight-faced promo, he fidgeted nervously through the first verse of “Thinkin Bout You.” He’s good, though, and so as soon as he loosened up he was able to turn song’s difficult high notes sweet.
Already warmed up, he showed off a little more swag during “Pyramids,” showing some teeth and pulling a few dance moves. And when Mayer went in on his loopy solo (extra guitar face so you know it’s real), Ocean made use of the time to fiddle with some of those vintage arcade games before giving the crowd one last smile and calling it a night.
Watch “Thinkin Bout You” above, and “Pyramids” and the video game playing below.
You might say that Frank Ocean is playing it extra-cool in the promo video for his upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Life. Fred Armisen and host Seth MacFarlane play nice together in the video, dueling their various funny voices and making small talk. As for Ocean, he whiles away the short promo, scratching his chin, nodding his head a few times — in agreement or to keep awake? — and rolling his eyes at the Family Guy creator. His only line? “Not cool, Seth.” Arriving on the scene as the sweet singing elder (though hardly old) member of the wily rap crew Odd Future, Ocean has always struck us as a many of few but poignant words, and so we have to assume that he really meant something by each of those three words. We’ll just have to tune in to Ocean’s “bro”-ified SNL debut tomorrow to find out what.