Lady Gaga played both host and musical guest on last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live and, suffice to say, she won herself a newfound layer of respect from people who think of her solely as a weirdo. She’s caught a lot of flack during her seemingly endless promotional tour for ARTPOP, but both her sense of humor and outstanding musical talent were on full display last night, reaffirming just what a unique talent that she is. Both of those qualities were showcased during her first musical performance last night, “Do What U Want,” which featured a surprise cameo from none other than the Pied Piper of R&B himself, Mr. R.Kelly!
Lady Gaga served as both the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live last night, marking the 26th time in the show’s 38 seasons that an individual was asked by Lorne Michaels to pull double duty. Gaga, ever the showstopper, did a tremendous job—more on her in a bit!—but what other musicians did the best job of being hilarious during sketches AND singing their faces off?
Usher‘s new album, Looking For Myself, isn’t set to be released until June 12, but he’s already pulling out all the stops to make sure his fans know that he’s got a new collection of his patented sexytime jams on the way. Two weeks ago, he collaborated with the cast of Fuerza Bruta for a special, one-night only multimedia spectacle, and this weekend, he appeared on Saturday Night Live to perform the first two singles from the record, “Scream” (video above) and “Climax.”
“Got no drink in my hand but I’m wasted/Getting drunk on the thought of you naked,” Usher declares early on his newest club banger, “Scream.” This energetic track seems poised to join the likes of Usher’s previous smash singles like “Yeah!” and “OMG” as huge summer radio hits, while his slow-burning, Diplo-collab “Climax” —which has been out for a few months now— is currently sitting at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Is this going to be the Summer of Usher? We have yet to hit Memorial Day, but at this point, it sure looks like it. Read more…
Today’s millenials are currently facing a rite of passage that every generation since the dawn of time has had to endure: Declaring their allegiance for the Boy Band Of The Moment. Boomers had it with The Beatles and The Monkees, Gen Xers were forced to choose between the NKOTB and New Edition, Gen Y still can’t decide between the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, and now, there’s a war brewing between the supporters of One Direction and The Wanted. While both acts currently have a song in the Billboard Top Ten (“What Makes You Beautiful” and “Glad You Came”, respectively), the boys in One Direction pulled ahead in the awareness game thanks to an appearance on Saturday Night Live this weekend.
As is customary, the band performed two songs: Their current Top 10 hit, “What Makes You Beautiful” and their next thing, “One Thing” (the latter of which is a direct descendant of the BSB classic, “I Want It That Way”). The band impressed by singing their vocals live and not solely relying on backing tracks, but many a snarkster on Twitter gave them grief for their non-existent dance moves.
What say you? Are you impressed by the new generation of boy bands? Which one of the 1D boys is your fave? Are you forever loyal to [insert your generational boy band idols here]? Let us know in the comments below!
Maya Rudolph and Sleigh Bells were the host and musical guest, respectively, on last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live. The standout sketch of the evening involved the world’s most famous new parents, Jay-Z (played by Jay Pharoah) and Beyoncé (Rudolph) welcoming a slew of famous musicians to their crib to welcome the newest member of the Carter family, Blue Ivy Carter (see: Photos of Blue Ivy Carter). Their guests at their Scarsdale, NY home included the mystery wrapped inside of a riddle wrapped inside of an enigma that is Prince (played to perfection by Fred Armisen), 2012 Grammys host LL Cool J (played by Kenan Thompson, a comedian whose many strengths do not include the ability to do a spot-on impression), a rambunctious Nicki Minaj (played more than adequately by Nasim Pedrad), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Taran Killam and Abby Elliott, respectively), and a VERY surprised Taylor Swift (Kristen Wiig).
There was one other surprise visitor to see the Notorious B.I.C. — the 2012 winner of the Best New Artist Grammy, Bon Iver! Frequent SNL cameo actor and former musician Justin Timberlake turned in a hilarious impression of the notoriously shy indie frontman, which included singing a parody version of “Holocene” that served as a lullaby that put both Blue Ivy AND Bon Iver himself to sleep. Justin (unnecessarily) went out of his way at the end of the show to make peace with the bearded Wisconsin native, holding up a sign that read “I (Heart) Bon Iver” as the show credits rolled, but we’re pretty sure that the recent SNL musical guest didn’t care. After all, unlike Snooki and Skrillex, everyone managed to pronounce his name correctly.
Mere moments after Lana Del Rey completed her now infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we saw dozens of tweets in our feed comparing her performance to something that a weird Kristen Wiig character would do. Well, the rabid imagination of the Twitter community came to life on last night’s episode of SNL, when Wiig showed up unannounced during Weekend Update as Lana Del Rey.
Wiig’s impression, which was a very slight variation of her classic character in the series of Two A-Holes sketches, straddled the line between mocking and defending the 25-year-old singer. Wiig’s Del Rey described herself as “stiff, distant and weird,” but also addressed the “authenticity” argument by sarcastically (and sagely) noting that “No serious musician would ever change their name, except maybe for Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip hop, and of course Bob Dylan.” The segment was fairly meh, mainly because head writer Seth Meyers avoided the opportunity to poke fun at NBC News anchor Brian Williams. As you’ll recall, Williams went out of his way to criticize SNL and bash Del Rey in a controversial email to Gawker, and Weekend Update’s refusal to jab back at Williams demonstrated for the umpteenth time that this era of the show places a greater emphasis on playing nice in the corporate sandbox than it does on biting the hand that feeds.
Many, many moons ago, cultural critic Adam Sternbergh outlined his theory about the Undulating Curve Of Shifting Expectations in the pages of New York Magazine. Basically, what the UCoSE does is provide us a way of analyzing the trajectory of entertainment products as they metamorphize their way through his theorized seven-stage growth chart: Pre-Buzz, Buzz, Rave Reviews, Saturation Point, Overhyped, Backlash, and finally, Backlash To The Backlash. When this chart was conceived back in March of 2006, the Internet was clearly already an important medium; however, sites like Facebook and Twitter had yet to reach the masses in the way that they do today, so it generally took “entertainment products” a decent amount of time to fully mature and run through the full cycle of the UCoSE. However, that is not the case today — thanks to omnipresence of social media, the cycle of culture consumption has clearly accelerated.
(ED. NOTE—Admittedly, this is a somewhat roundabout intro to what you’re about to read, but if you bear with us, we promise that it will all pay off.)
Now, it may seem slightly weird to classify a real, live human being like Lana Del Rey as an “entertainment product,” but it’s pretty clear to us that she’s already rocketed through six of the first seven stages of Sternbergh’s UCoSE, albeit in an extremely abbreviated fashion. However, it now appears that after Del Rey’s widely-maligned SNL performance, she’s reaching the Backlash to the Backlash stage. In a poll that we published on Tuesday, over 48% of the poll participants indicated that they’re fully on-board Team LDR, and earlier today, Whitney Cummings —star of NBC’s Whitney and herself a widely-maligned figure— wrote a blog post coming to Del Rey’s defense.
Lana Del Rey is no stranger to controversy. The stunning 25-year-old chanteuse with the haunting voice has been in the crosshairs of the indie blogosphere for months, but after she made her American television debut last night as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, she’s become a conversational lightning rod in the mainstream. Del Rey’s performances of “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were not the strongest renditions of those songs in her young career and, as a result, many critics delighted in breaking out their book of nasty superlatives to describe her work using social media services.
Perez Hilton broke his phony, self-imposed streak of faux-niceness and tore into Lana Del Rey on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning: “Just watched SNL. Not only was @LanaDelRey vocally WAY off, but watching her utter lack of stage presence was cringe-worthy. #DontBuyTheHype” Actress and part-time singer Juliette Lewis piled on, tweeting “Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform. #signofourtimes” before remembering what her own voice actually sounds like and wisely deleting her tweet. Even Eliza Dushku, last seen guest-starring on The League, weighed in on Twitter, describing Del Rey as “wack-a-doodle” before also deleting her tweet. Lest you think it was only famous people eagerly sinking their claws into her, a wholly unscientific, purely anecdotal search on Twitter we just performed shows that negative comments about LDR are outweighing positive ones by at least a 2:1 margin.
However, despite this tidal wave of haterade, it looks like Lana Del Rey and Interscope Records might end up having the last laugh. Her four song Lana Del Rey – EP is currently the #2 album on the iTunes charts (where, it should be noted, it is averaging a 4-star rating after garnering nearly 2,900 reviews) and her LP, Born To Die, is the #16 album on the Amazon.com charts, despite the fact that it doesn’t even come out until January 31. So while everyone probably wished that her performance on SNL had gone over as well as her excellent rendition of “Video Games” on Later Live … With Jools Holland back in October, it’s evident that the American public is now not only aware of this controversial new singer, but that they’re interested in learning more about who she is and what she sounds like. In other words, mission accomplished for Team LDR.
After racking up tens of millions of views on YouTube and generating more conversation than virtually any other “indie” artist in 2011, Lana Del Rey made her American television debut tonight on Saturday Night Live. She performed “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, the two songs that first propelled her from virtual obscurity and put her on the map less than six months ago. America clearly took notice, too: She was a trending topic on Twitter not once but twice tonight (although, it must be noted, one of those times the TT was “Lana Del Ray”, a misspelling of her name).
Spelling issues aside, SNL provided a compelling introduction to Lana Del Rey’s unique sound. She appeared a bit nervous at the outset of each of her two performances tonight, her voice dropping into an even lower register than she generally sings, but she settled into a groove each time and finished both songs with gusto. Curiously, she chose not to perform “Born To Die,” the song which she shot a big budget video for back in December (and is currently the Single of the Week in the iTunes Store), but we suppose she’ll probably perform that when she visits the Late Show With David Letterman and Ellen in a few weeks.
We actually had the opportunity to sit down for a candid conversation with Lana Del Rey earlier this week, during which she opened up about her controversial omission from this year’s Coachella lineup and told us a totally awesome story about an encounter with a topless Paz De La Huerta in Paris late last year. We also asked her about Daniel Radcliffe, who was the host of tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, the results of which you can see below:
Lana Del Rey is almost nothing like you’d expect her to be. Let us explain.
In just under six months, Del Rey has gone from being a virtual unknown to landing a highly coveted gig as the musical guest on this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, an opportunity that some artists work their entire careers for and never achieve. The booking of this artist, best known for her uniquely sexy voice and a cinematic style of music she describes as “Summertime sadness,” totally makes sense, though. While it’s true that she hasn’t even released her album yet —Born To Die streets on January 31— Lana has already experienced a career’s worth of buzz (and, subsequently, backlash) in indie blogosphere circles, mostly stemming from questions regarding her quote-unquote “authenticity.” This, in combination with the mysterious persona she projects in her videos and her somewhat defiant performance at the Bowery Ballroom back in December, led us to believe that she might come off as being cryptic and guarded during her interview here at VH1 HQ in New York City yesterday. The Lana Del Rey we met, though, was anything but: During the 45 minutes or so we spent with her, she was happy, effusive, relatable and totally forthcoming about the rocket ride that she’s been on for the last half of the year.
“You wanna hear a little story?” We’ve been talking to Del Rey for a few minutes about her self-made, self-edited, collage-style music videos for “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, the treatments of which propelled the indie chanteuse from obscurity into the spotlight, but that were also initially met with puzzlement by clueless suits at record labels (“For a long time, nobody thought that anything fit together. I brought things into different labels and to different people and they all thought it was really f***ing weird. They thought that the videos didn’t have a strong narrative and that they were creepy.”). We raise the issue of Paz De La Huerta, an actress who, depending on your vantage point in life, is either a hot mess or your spirit animal. Footage of a clearly overserved Paz made its way into Del Rey’s cut of “Video Games,” an intriguing creative decision that lends a zeitgeist-y and almost Lynchian-circa-Mulholland Drive feel to the video, underscoring the overlap in the Venn diagram of Hollywood where glamour, darkness and tragedy meet. So, we posed, did Lana ever hear from Paz herself?