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.
Called to Jimmy Fallon‘s office pre-show Friday night, Christina Aguilera put on the week’s best late night performance without even so much as a mic or a stage set to assist her. Rather, Jimmy on the iPhone dial-tone, The Roots with the office supplies — like, the full Staple’s circular’s worth of office supplies: pencils, scissors, tissues, a water cooler, legal pads, etc. — and Christina with the stapler, the motley crew jammed out Lotus single “Your Body” desk-side. Of course she’s got a good sense of humor and a cool die-job, but what really makes this office space performance work is Christina’s killer voice. And maybe a little bit Jimmy’s sexy moves? But mostly that voice, because caught up with her judging on The Voice or man-splattering videos as we can get, we really shouldn’t forget that that Christina’s a real powerhouse ready to bring down whatever space you give her!
Still, though, we wonder if we should add that stapler to this list.
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.”
Last night was a good one for late night watchers, who had musical performances from the Lumineers, No Doubt, the Whigs and Two Door Cinema Club to chose between, as well as President Barack Obama on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the rarely seen Axl Rose on Jimmy Kimmel Live. This being Rose’s first live interview (as you’ll remember, Vh1’s That Metal Showsat down with the rock star last fall) in nearly two decades, we suspect the choice of which channel to chose was an easy one for rock fans. Axl arrived on-time (“It’s a miracle!” Rose laughed) and to a very excited audience. And while he didn’t have much to offer as to why he chose to break the wall of silence — though we suspect the timing might have something to do with Guns N Roses’upcoming Las Vegas residency — but Axl gamely answered all Kimmel’s questions otherwise, and generally seemed the be enjoying himself. Read more…
It’s only Tuesday, but already Taylor Swift has had the best week ever. Her brand new album, Red, hit record stores yesterday and a sizable portion of those record buyers put on something red and swarmed to Times Square to celebrate with Taylor on Good Morning America early this morning.
For her part, Taylor wore all black and her hair down so that her her celebratory red lipstick and matching red mic really popped. After warming up with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” — cute dance moves and goofy asides and all, to really start the day right — she slung a red guitar over her shoulder and performed “Red” for the first time live. Mostly gone are Taylor’s cute and ponytail swinging country princess days, and the way she pretended to played some of the guitar solos during this performance was a good reminder of that. Read more…
Ellie Goulding had a particularly busy day yesterday, performing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the morning and then again on Conan late last night, and she seemed to enjoy every bit of it. Goulding’s excellent Haylcon has officially entered the Top 10 on the Billboard charts and her back-to-back performances felt like a celebration of it. Haylcon is dance-y and dazzling, like the scene Goulding and her boyfriend, Skrillex, run in; and it’s also a meant to be a breakup album, and so it’s often dark and dramatic (think: Florence + The Machine‘s Ceremonials). “Anything Could Happen” is an exception to this — “But you know, then I wrote ‘Anything Could Happen’ because suddenly my life changed again, and I met someone new,” she says — and it’s fun to see how she gets swept up and away again each time she performs it. Read more…
Last night, Ellie Goulding stopping in on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to celebrate the release of Halcyon, her highly anticipated follow-up to Lights. Goulding has been big in the UK for a few years now — and even with the Royals — but she only really started getting buzz over here this summer, when everyone at once decided to make “Lights” the glittering soundtrack to all late-night happenings. “Lights” shot up the charts as a result, and our ears were perked by the time “Anything Could Happen” dropped. We really love her coo of a voice, but were have always wondered what it would sound like when separated from the gauzy production its typically packaged with. Her appearance on Fallon last night quashed our concerns, though, as she easily proved that the voice is all hers and that she’s really good. Or, as Jimmy tells her: “That’s the way to do it.”
Dressed plainly in all black leather and with the sometimes vibrant pink in her hair toned-down to just a tint, she performed her uplifting new single “Anything Could Happen.” The bouncy Halcyon track gives her more leeway to show off her voice than the more insistent “Lights,” and live she really lets her voice flare and fill that space. And she looked and sounded every bit the veteran pop star she already is, even if this was technically her U.S. television debut. Maybe if we ask nicely, England will let us keep her?