Saturday Night Live: The best, worst and most controversial performances

Categories: Lists

Update: 10:39 a.m. Sunday
The Shins were on Saturday Night Live last night night weekend's musical guests.

Being invited to be the musical guest on an episode of SNL has been a benchmark of commercial success for any band of the last forty years. And for good reason: From Andy Kaufman annihilating the fourth wall of broadcast television with his "Mighty Mouse" sing-a-long in 1975 to Radiohead debuting songs from one the best albums of the new millennium in 2000, an SNL musical act has a lot of history to live up to when stepping onto the stage in NBC's studio 8H. Or does it?

Over the last decade, a handful of performers who've graced the legendary stage have embarrassed not only themselves, but the institution itself for even considering them. Lately, if an SNL musical guest is in the news, it's usually not good. From lip-synching blunders to too-much too-soon amateur-in-the-headlights stints, being invited to perform on a stage that's seen Nirvana, the Beastie Boys and Patti Smith can not only expose a lack of talent, but it can stop a band's career dead in its tracks, forever labeling its members as having tripped over themselves on national television.

The Shins, a band at a crossroads of their own, with new members and their first release in five years, will be gracing the tumultuous SNL stage, potentially reviving a stuttering career or tainting it with a weak performance that will remind everyone why you can no longer trust Saturday Night Live to deliver the goods. As a point of comparison, here's a look back at some of the best, worst and most notorious performances to ever grace the SNL stage.



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7 comments
SterlingForbes
SterlingForbes

John was actually not too messed up, he was being a dick. Also, they played Stone Cold Bush, not Give it Away.

Jim Beam
Jim Beam

Where is the Fear video?  Thirty years later and the media is still afraid to post it.  nbc has done a good job at keeping off the internet.  They weren't an obscure punk band in the LA area and were frequently played on the Rodney on the ROQ show and New Wave Theater.

edwardtmartin
edwardtmartin

I am at a loss as to why everyone is so dissatisfied with Lana Del Rey.  I played the video posted with this article, minimized the browser immediately, and then listened to the song without watching the video. I think she is unique, different and original. 

The whole flak surrounding her reminds me of other artists who try to do their own thing, get annihilated by critics at the time, then only to be glorified years later. I am especially reminded of the reception Bob Dylan received at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, where the reaction was mixed at best, and yet now is considered a seminal moment in the history of rock and roll.My question for you is why does Del Rey have to be a Britney Spears, a Madonna, or even worse, a Lady Gaga, in order to satisfy your in-the-box thinking? She is stilted and damned rigid, without a doubt. But why does she have to be gymnast or a bombastic style-over-substance performer (like the above mentioned ladies)? Why can't she just come out, be nervous, and sing a great song? (Which she did).  To compare her to the other disasters in this article (Ashley Simpson certainly deserves every ounce of criticism she receives) is a disservice to Del Rey, and an insult to music listeners everywhere.  And more than anything else, it shows a desire to hop on the bandwagon of what people these days are calling 'haters' - people who judge and criticize without any detailed, rational explanation of their disapproval, without suggestions as to how they could improve. If you don't like her music, fine, why not explain what makes it so bad? But just to say she was ruled by nerves and Brian Williams thinks so too, and his opinion was posted on a gossip website and thus is somehow validation, means nothing to me, nor does it to any intelligent music listener. And it certainly adds nothing to any conversation regarding music criticism. We have become so accustomed to people looking better than they sound that we hear nothing  when someone sounds better than they look. It is completely obvious to me that the MTV generation has finally and completely taken over the dialogue of modern music. Get over your visual prejudices and start listening instead. You may be surprised by what you hear.

XangDeee
XangDeee

You did indeed pick some real winners. Wow, very cool indeed.Total-Privacy dot US

backbeatmod
backbeatmod

 @6f3e51b5f10e18ab8f3294d8c8ed8c7c:disqus See Most Controversial on page three.

Carrie Nations
Carrie Nations

I think what the article is getting at is that LDR simply didn't earn her place on SNL. No, she's not the worst ever. But how she ever got on the bill is baffling and depressing, and points more to SNL capitalizing on the internet backlash surrounding her than it does her actual talent. I think the article is suggesting that she IS style over substance, that she's a flash-in-the-pan pop product that should be beneath the esteem of an SNL appearance (wait, does SNL still have esteem?). Some of her songs are embarrassingly bad; one or two are pretty catchy; and the rest are boring and unmemorable, to roughly quote a super-sharp line from Pitchfork's review, "the musical equivalent of a faked orgasm." In my opinion, the ultra-manufactured image is an obvious overcompensation for her musical unoriginality. 

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