It was a year of stunts, typically outrageous pop music acts, experimental sets and plenty of solid performances on late night television. As part of 2013’s Year In Review, The Hollywood Reporter spotlights a few of the more worthwhile guest appearances that either have faded from memory or were missed the first time they were aired.
Jim James – “A New Life” (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon)
My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James took the Late Night stage in February to showcase his sparse solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God. The LP was a departure from the Southern rock roots of MMJ, but nearly two minutes into “A New Life,” a marching band joined in with drums and a familiar groove began. The sound expanded further with the addition of the show’s house band, The Roots, backing up the singer’s croon.
Kanye West – “Black Skinhead” (Saturday Night Live)
Few details had been known about Yeezus in the lead up to Kanye West‘s June launch of his latest release. The simple album cover didn’t give away what many critics later deemed an abrasive record. But in late May on Saturday Night Live’s season finale, the artist took the stage to perform singles “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves,” which helped set the tone for the album’s promotion. Snarling dogs and a flashing “Not For Sale” sign flickered behind West during “Skinhead” and a close-up projection of eyes looked out at viewers during “New Slaves.”
She & Him – “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” (The Tonight Show)
Now a regular television personality on Fox sitcom New Girl, Zooey Deschanel also revived her musical project with M. Ward in 2013. In June, she brought her tambourine and She & Him bandmate along for a number on The Tonight Show. The duo, along with four backing vocalists and a full band, performed the wistful Beach Boys-inspired “I’ve Got Your Number, Son” from their May album, Volume 3.
“Jessie and the Rippers” – “Forever” (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon)
One of the most buzzed-about performances on late night this year happened to be the from a fake band. Full House‘s John Stamos reunited his character’s band, “Jesse and the Rippers,” to play a nostalgic medley of songs on Jimmy Fallon that included the ballad “Forever.” The group rocked out like it they were back in the show’s haunt, The Smash Club. There was also a cameo from Full House co-star Bob Saget, who was dancing in the audience.
John Mayer – (Live on Letterman Concert)
With his vocal cord surgery in the rearview mirror and his latest album set for release a day later, John Mayer appeared on a “Live on Letterman” concert on Aug. 19 to showcase his new material. The singer-songwriter displayed a particularly carefree demeanor on the breezy single “Wildfire.” Mayer, performing at New York’s Ed Sullivan theater, also played the Continuum track “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” and the Born and Raised title “Queen of California.”
Steven Van Zandt, “Espresso Martini” (The Arsenio Hall Show)
In the lead-up to the release of the second season of Netflix’s mafia in Norway series Lilyhammer, star Steven Van Zandt hit Arsenio Hall to memorably jam to a track from the series. “It’s mostly jazz and Norwegian folk, but there’s this one song that’s like a bluesy kind of thing that’s called ‘Espresso Martini,'” he described, before starting an extended instrumental performance with house band The Posse.
Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney – (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
For two nights in September, Jimmy Kimmel Live shut down the Hollywood Blvd for a couple of free concerts that packed the street in front of the El Capitan Theatre. An enthusiastic Paul McCartney performed the title track from his latest album, New, and drew immediate cheers when he launched into The Beatles “Lady Madonna.” A night later, promoting part two of his 20/20 Experience album, Justin Timberlake and backing band the Tennessee Kids led the crowds clapping to “Take Back the Night” and bass-heavy pop number “TKO.”
Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time” (NBC)
For a band that hit a mainstream peak this year, a Saturday Night Live guest spot wasn’t enough. On Sep. 28, the Grammy-winning modern rock band was given its own half-hour special immediately after the late night show that was filled with celeb cameos to showcase songs from its newest album, Reflector. The dance-influenced set included “Here Comes the Night Time,” the disco-grooving “We Exist” and “Normal Person.”
Moby – “The Perfect Life” (Conan)
In late September, the techno music icon ditched the dance and ambient influences that inspired his last two albums to showcase “The Perfect Life,” the buoyant lead single from his latest album, Innocents. Appearing on Conan dressed all in white, Moby and his 10-plus-member backing band and choir belted out a joyful rendition of the single. Also: the artist contributes a more than respectable guitar solo to the performance.
Katy Perry – “Roar” (Saturday Night Live)
A jungle theme may have been the obvious choice to dress up a song featuring lyrics like, “I got the eye of the tiger, the fire,” but it appeared to work. In the lead up to her blockbuster album, Prism, Katy Perry‘s ubiquitous single “Roar” was given the costume treatment in early October. The appearance featured backing vocals by a costumed elephant and alligator and keyboards by a band member dressed as a monkey.
Eminem – “Berzerk” (Saturday Night Live)
In September, Eminem promoted the video of his latest single, “Berzerk,” with a puzzling appearance on ESPN. A little over a month later, he let the song speak for itself on Saturday Night Live. Producer Rick Rubin kick-started the track with a sample of Billy Squier‘s “The Stoke” and Eminem came out rocking for “Berzerk” in early November. The rapper, who has framed The Marshall Mathers LP 2 as a return to form, showcased the song with characteristic bravado.
Nine Inch Nails – “All Time Low” (Jimmy Kimmel Live)
It was billed as Nine Inch Nails first network television performance, and it didn’t disappoint. In early November, Trent Reznor took the stage with the relatively low-key “Various Methods of Escape” from the band’s new album Hesitation Marks. Reznor and co. then kicked it up a notch with the pounding track “All Time Low.”
Iron & Wine, Glen Hansard, Kathleen Edwards and Calexico “Fairy Tale of New York” (Late Night With Jimmy Fallon)
The Pogues Irish holiday staple was given fitting treatment in mid-December by a collaboration of complimentary artists on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Whispery folk singer-songwriter Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, singer and violinist Kathleen Edwards, Oscar-winning Once vocalist Glen Hansard and indie band Calexico gave a holiday send-off with a rousing performance.