Top 10 musical moments on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' in 2011

by Nicole Villeneuve

December 20, 2011






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This year marked the third season for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, a show that’s come to reflect Fallon’s dedicated music fandom more than his interviewing skills. It’s also managed to find the audience (see: the internet) to embrace the host’s extreme earnesty and stammering giddiness; an audience not unlike the one that Conan O’Brien himself built throughout a career of being, to a degree, creatively uncompromising.

If you watched Fallon on Saturday Night Live over the years, you knew that his affinity for musical parodies—his acoustic guitar was a regular prop—and when Late Night debuted in March 2009, it was maybe a shock to see esteemed hip-hop band the Roots as its house band, but ultimately, it wasn’t that surprising.

Gradually, Fallon’s found his footing with his goofy, smart sketches, but more so, as a mainstream musical outlet. He had a musical guest every night, having a reverence for everything from Ricky Martin to Kenny Rogers, Edie Brickell to Twisted Sister, or Motorhead to Lykke Li. Late last year, when he did one of his eerily accurate Neil Young impressions covering Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” he was joined by none other than Bruce Springsteen, and almost suddenly, it felt like there was a whole new legitmacy to Fallon’s fandom. This year, increasingly, the performances were special ones from more reclusive artists, such as Lauryn Hill, or reuniting ones, such as the Tom Tom Club or the Dismemberment Plan. They were daily part of music blog news, sometimes going viral and even sparking new levels of attention in young careers.

It was a good year for Fallon, and next year surely will be, too. Here are 10 of our favourite musical moments on the show this year (which wasn’t easy—there are a lot of good ones), with an honourable mention to the conclusion of the History of Rap series with Justin Timberlake.

10. “Neil Young” with David Crosby and Graham Nash, “Party In The U.S.A.” (Miley Cyrus cover) (May 24)

We’d be remiss not to include this. Because again with the Neil Young impression, doing a cover of another pop hit, joined by Young’s former CSNY bandmates. Oh, Jimmy.

9. The Foo Fighers with Roger Waters, “In the Flesh” (September 27)

Because Fallon does things like Pink Floyd week, and invites the musical guests to play Pink Floyd songs. He’s also done tribute weeks for The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley. Here is the Foo Fighters with Roger Waters himself doing a classic from “The Wall.”

8. Copyright Criminals All-Star Band, “Fight the Power” (March 29)

Three of the artists featured in the Copyright Criminals documentary were Public Enemy’s Chuck D., James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield, and remixer Eclectic Method, and together, they are the Copyright Criminals All-Star Band. Fun fact: Stubblefield is the drummer responsible for the drums on Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” a widely sampled shuffle that you might recognize as the beat from—yep—”Fight The Power.”

7. Bob Mould with the Roots, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (June 22)

This is just a short clip of the night Bob Mould sat in with the Roots but BOB MOULD sat in with THE ROOTS. Only on Fallon. Here they are doing a snippet of the Sugar classic “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.”

6. Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (June 14)

Not only does Fallon manage to get these great guests, he manages to get them to do their best songs. Lauryn Hill appeared earlier in the year, too, for Bob Marley, but it was this surprisingly recognizable—if not a little fast—performance of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” that stood out.

5. Bon Iver, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Bonnie Raitt cover) (May 23)

Though Bon Iver also played a beautiful rendition of now Grammy nominated “Holocene,” this take on the Bonnie Raitt (!) classic, even in its sometimes strained moments, kind of made time stand still for a few minutes. Was that a bit much? Regardless, it was stirring.

4. Tom Tom Club, “Genius of Love” (January 11)

The Talking Heads offshoot boldy announced a 30-year celebration reunion with this performance of one of the most sampled songs of all time.

3. Dismemberment Plan, “The City” (January 20)

When the Dismemberment Plan announced a brief reunion tour behind the reissue of their beloved 1999 Emergency & I album, we learned that the kick-off would be a performance on Fallon. Super cool. We can’t find video of this anywhere. But I’m not taking it off the list for a technicality. Please know that it was a fantastic time in late night television.

2. Stephen Colbert and the Roots, “Friday” (April 1)

This one may be a bit too meme-y for such a high spot, but when Colbert and Fallon did their few-week ‘fake’ BFF bit for charity, and it all ended in this? TV magic.

1. Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator and Hodgy Beats, “Sandwiches” (February 16)

One of the most memorable TV appearances of the year overall (at least, in our own little music bubble), this is the performance that really launched the names of Tyler, the Creator and his Odd Future crew into the music world’s brains. It’s a good example of the unbridled youthful mayhem that the group embodies. It’s a better example still of Fallon knowing his shit and booking them when he did.

Tags: Music, Lists, News, Bob Mould, bon iver, Chuck D., david crosby, Foo Fighters, Graham Nash, Hodgy Beats, Jimmy Fallon, justin timberlake, Lauryn Hill, Odd Future, OFWGKTA, The Dismemberment Plan, The Roots






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