Lana Del Rey's certainly got people talking! Her deer-on-Quaaludes performance this past Saturday has her up nominated for "Worst Saturday Night Live Performance." No less an authority than all-star rock critic NBC's Brian Williams declared her incompetence. Someone get Oprah's take on things! Because Juliette Lewis should not be throwing stones!
But having watched it myself, I found it enjoyably terrible. A bit slow, perhaps, and ill-at-ease, but as long as they spell your name right, who cares, right kid?
SNL has a long history of delivering subpar performances of all kinds. Sometimes it makes me think they deliberately send a mutilated or delayed mix into the monitors just to throw the performers off and to create controversy. But I'm just being paranoid. Chance are, everyone's bad performances are their own fault. Too much partying and not enough practice!
Just for the heck of it, what do you say we look at some other underwhelming performances, which, for the record, I mostly love?
10) Sinead O'Connor: OK, musically, it wasn't a bad performance of Bob Marley's "War." A capella, no less! But ripping up the picture of the Pope and announcing "Fight The Real Enemy" derailed her career in a serious way. Of course, with all the child molestation scandals rocking the Catholic Church in past years, she now seems rather prescient. Maybe we owe her an apology?
9) Meat Loaf: If you listen to Meat's performance of "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," you'll swear someone is messing with the entire band. Meat can't hit the high notes and doesn't even try, but far more alarming is how the band sound like a warped record. Now, they're clearly playing live, but they manage to simulate the sound of someone putting their thumb on a turntable while the record plays. Or maybe it sounds like a cassette tape stretched and warped beyond recognition. Digital technology is nowhere near as fun as the old stuff.
8) Eddie Money: Sure, smoking gives your voice that rasp. But not if you tear the filters off and smoke the entire pack right before you go onstage. Then the voice of experience becomes the voice of death warmed over. If you ever wanted to hear the reaper sing "Baby Hold On To Me," just grab a copy of Eddie Money's performance on SNL back in 1977. If you think subpar performances on SNL are a new invention, just roll the videotape. Or whatever it is you people do these days.
7) The Rolling Stones: It seems like everyone parties too hard when they get to SNL, especially true back when John Belushi was there to encourage such behaviors. By the time the Stones got to the official taping, Mick Jagger could only bark and rasp through a version of "Beast of Burden" that sounds like a ballad being sung to you by a construction foreman.
6) Ke$ha: Ke$ha's performance was so bizarre that it was argued whether or not that was the point of the whole thing. Personally, I like the little nervous eye movement before "Tik Tok" kicks in, like she's checking with her dad in the wings for her cue. Her unconvincing rap is painful, but the laser harp bit at the end is the sight of ambition failing.
5) Britney Spears: Curious how difficult it is to find Britney's performances on SNL, except for an earnest, mawkish version of "Everytime." But I remember distinctly watching Ms. Spears tumbling for us on a terrible "Baby One More Time." You can't hide from the truth, Britney. Some of us remember.
4) Marianne Faithfull: It actually ended up sounding kinda cool. But there's no getting around the fact that Marianne couldn't reach most of the notes and they're not out of her range. The story goes that she'd asked a back-up singer for a popular drug before her performance and was steered to someone who gave her something that numbed her vocal cords. The backup singers do seem really psyched throughout the songs.
3) Red Hot Chili Peppers: When Anthony Kiedis sings "Sometimes I feel like I don't have partner" for "Under the Bridge," he could be aiming it at John Frusciante, the guitar player, since the guitar sounds slow and disoriented. By song's end they sound like guys jamming in the basement -- wasted. However, the performance of "Give It Away" was worse, which may be why it's hard to find. If you like the sound of animals being trampled to death, you'll love their appearance here.
2) Kanye West: "Love Lockdown" wasn't supposed to sound that bad. It's just that the vocoder that helps disguise West's voice wasn't working all that great. So, we had to experience the man's talents without the sufficient help of technology and that's a problem, since he's sorta like a singer sponsored by Radio Shack.
1) Ashlee Simpson: Um, this is clearly the worst since Simpson goes to lip-sync and her people can't even get that right. They leave her hanging out to dry on stage with no vocals (after a brief vocal loop), so she dances a jig and then loiters around the stage waiting for that particular hell to end. You almost feel sorry for her. But not really.