Up above: Kanye's first performance "Black Skinhead". Down below, his performance of "New Slaves". My first thoughts: more musical evolution from Kanye West. Vibing with the sound and the aesthetics. What did you think of the performances?
UPDATED Thoughts: After sitting with "Black Skinhead" especially and digesting the lyrics (handwritten by 'Ye below), I have come to a point where I'm liking it more with each listen. My first experience was just appreciating the visuals and the heavy, heavy metal influence in the song's sound. The seizure-inducing flashes behind 'Ye, with silhouettes of his ensemble behind him were both amazing. Not to mention Yeezy's "All Black Everything", save for the new red Air Yeezys.
Lyrically, Kanye is comin' back with a clear message and disdain for society, especially when it comes to the racism he not only sees but experiences. The King Kong reference cleverly drives it home for me in "Black Skinhead", with the song as a whole feeling like an independence anthem. Likely because it feels like Kanye is creating from that place of complete, unfiltered freedom. Just as much as ever, you can feel Kanye's soul pour out in his words, with no barrier in between.
For my initial thoughts on "New Slaves", check out my experience and video of the Wrigley Field premiere. As far as tonight's performance goes, the sound sounds even more crisp as one would expect. I thought the first few bars would be delivered more intensely but it set up a nice contrast to the rest of the song. 'Ye being completely still, his stare fixated into space, was magnificent.
Other fun/little things I liked: the LeBron 'Akron' reference in "Black Skinhead" actually made me want to root for LeBron (for just a minute, hah!), the Romans/Trojans punchlines, and Mano embodying the #TreatedCrew steez by wilin' out in the background of both performances.
And overall, what else can I say? 'Ye's got the performance game down to a constantly evolving and creative level. Tonight, he stole the show from Ben Affleck, Amy Poehler's guest appearance, and Bill Hader's final episode (Fred Armisen's too?). #YeezySeason, indeed.
Here are the three SNL promo ads running this week, leading up to the season finale this Saturday — hosted by Ben Affleck with, of course, Kanye West as the musical guest. All of these inspired some chuckles, but no doubt I'm not tuning in Saturday because of the laughs (no slight to Affleck, he's good) but I'll be dialed up to see what Kanye performs. Lots of speculation about a new album announcement or even a premiere of a new song. What do you think it will be?
Doesn't this look like an SNL promo shot?! Well, spoiler alert: it's from Google images. But thought it was appropriate to associate with the announcement that Kendrick Lamar is going to be an SNL musical guest for the first time on January 26th. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 will be hosting that night, leaving a slimmer of hope that they strike a friendship and want to collab in the studio. (That really would be a crossover smash). Hopeful wishes aside, it'll be great to see K. Dot on the SNL stage later this month.
Last night SNL saw Jamie Foxx hosting and Ne-Yo as the musical guest, and it was a safe bet that Foxx was gonna get in on the live tunes as well. He did just that by performing "Birthday Song" with 2 Chainz in the monologue above, while Ne-Yo performed "Let Me Love You" (of course) and "She Is" below. Were there any good skits last night? Might have to jump on Hulu and find out later today.
Rihanna was tonight's musical guest on a new SNL hosted by Anne Hathway. Above and below are her two performances - the first for the current single "Diamonds", and the second, a premiere of a song off the upcoming album, Unapologetic, "Stay".
First, the problems with "Diamonds" begin with the 90s video game style graphics acting as the background, instead of SNL's classy set. I didn't see the connection between those graphics and the song, unless it was to detract from a lack of booming vocals from Ri-Ri. The second performance of "Stay" was better, however, as Rihanna slowed it down to sing over a simple piano melody. Not that I'm expecting huge vocals from her, but it still wasn't there til the very end of this one.
Rihanna is slated to return to SNL for an appropriately timed performance on November 10th - nine days before her Unapologetic album hits stores. The episode will be hosted by Anne Hathaway and rest assured, Ri Ri will be performing the new single "Diamonds" and likely another new song off the album.
Speaking of which, Rihanna gives new correlation between the album title Unapologetic and what it stands for as the news also comes out today that she'll be offering a $250 version of the album for her fans. Yup, you read that right, the extra '0' was not a typo. She better be making door-to-door visits for those who buy this. Instead, here's the list of what you do receive.
The Diamonds Executive Platinum box is a limited edition art piece for a true collector. This premium offering is numbered and includes a special edition collectible colored “Diamonds” remixes vinyl. Unapologetic Deluxe CD version with a 28-page photo and art booklet featuring Michael Muller and Melissa T. Forde photography and a 20 minute DVD featuring never-before-released footage, a First Look from Rihanna’s sold-out Loud Tour performance Live from London’s O2 arena.
Tonight, Bruno Mars pulled double duty as he was not only the musical guest on SNL, but also the show's host. He got to reveal his versatile side as a comedic actor tonight for the first time, while also doing the same musically. Unfortunately, many of the sketches fell short, save for Bruno as Devin, the Pandora intern (which showcased said versatility musically via satiric covers of Green Day, Katy Perry, and Michael Jackson to name a few) and the show's opening play off of this week's debate.
The two music performances from Bruno were two songs off his upcoming album, Unorthodox Jukebox. The first, above, is the current single "Locked Out Of Heaven", complete with a background dance ensemble to add to the entertainment. The latter, below, is the premiere of presumably the next single, "Young Girls". Mars slows it down, displays his vocal range and a unique storyline. I like the sound of this one as well. Watch the performances if you missed SNL tonight and be on the lookout for Unorthodox Jukebox on December 11th.
If you missed Frank Ocean make his Saturday Night Live debut earlier tonight, then simply put, you missed a treat. Ocean was accompanied by John Mayer, who flanked him on guitar for performances of "Thinkin' Bout You" and "Pyramids". Both songs contained many subtleties that are different than the studio versions of Channel Orange, as both the sounds of Mayer and the band, plus Ocean's own twist on the vocals make both of these videos must-sees to catch the differences.
I particularly liked the endings of both as in "Thinkin' Bout You", Ocean's vocals and mannerisms raise up a notch (with some ad-libbing as well) and in "Pyramids", Mayer's guitar solo combined with Ocean actually playing the arcade game to symbolically mean... something. I'm not sure exactly what, but what I am sure of is that arcade games are awesome. Be sure to watch both of these - "Thinkin' Bout You" above and "Pyramids" below!
Also look for election SNL. Jason Sudeikis is already slated to be Mitt Romney and only hilarity ensues. Though Kristin Wiig and Andy Samberg will be leaving the cast, there is still so much to look forward to this coming season.
Frank Ocean has been known to turn lemons into lemonade solid gold. Rumors circulating about his bisexuality were confirmed with a heartfelt tumblr post only steering him into commercial success. I couldn't have been happier for mankind! Set to perform on one of the biggest stages at Lolla, Frank Ocean was intially rained out of his performance but was able to start a late set at 9:45pm after the Saturday Lolla rain delay. The weather couldn't rain out his heart burning performance of "Bad Religion."
September is already looking out to be a good month. Perhaps the summer ending isn't so bad after all...