The Worst 'SNL' Performances Ever
By Scott Harris Posted Apr 24th 2010 10:00AM
But what if you, you know... suck?
Welcome to Ke$ha's world. As anyone who has been online this week knows, Ke$ha, the songstress behind the ubiquitous pop hit 'Tik Tok,' had her maiden SNL performance last weekend. And the result was nothing short of disastrous, as media outlets around the hemisphere raced to be the first to post their "Was Ke$ha the worst 'SNL' musical guest ever?" articles.
With that in mind, we thought this would be a good time to take a look back at her competition for the title, those musical guests that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. So without further ado, here's our list of the worst 'SNL' performances ever.
• Ke$ha -- No doubt you've already seen this by now, but we thought it only fair to remind everyone just why this list is necessary. It was a toss-up just which of Ke$ha's two performances were worse, but despite the day-glo body paint she used in 'Your Love is My Drug,' we ended up going with 'Tik Tok.' And not just because it was the worst use of space imagery in a live performance since William Shatner's rendition of 'Rocket Man.' So what was the deciding factor? Two words: Laser. Harp.
• Ashlee Simpson -- As bad as Ke$ha was, she still couldn't quite topple the undisputed queen of bad performances, Ashlee Simpson, whose 2004 lip-sync fiasco put a major dent in her career plans. She tried to excuse it away by explaining that she began losing her voice during rehearsals, but no excuse was ever offered for the totally bizarre jig she launched into as an attempt to cover up the gaffe. She then fled the stage and let the band jam without her -- arguably the best musical decision of the night.
• Kanye West -- Ashlee Simpson isn't the only musical guest to get involved in a lip-sync controversy, but luckily for Kanye West, he had an ironclad alibi: If his 2008 version of 'Love Lockdown' had been lip-synced it wouldn't have sounded so awful. Instead, it appeared the true issue was with a messed up vocoder, which normally would have disguised his caterwauling with its cybernetic overtones. We've always been on the fence about these kinds of electronic voice manipulations, but after seeing this video we're convinced: If singers are going to sound this bad without them, by all means, cover up as much as you can.
• Nelly Furtado -- There aren't really any words to describe Furtado's 2006 performance of 'Maneater,' but a few that come pretty close are inexplicable, bizarre, weird, unfortunate and "wtf," although the last of those is technically an acronym. We will say that unlike most of the folks on this list, Furtado's singing was actually okay. However, we're not sure which was worse, the creepy song itself or the 80's style interpretive dance troupe that surrounded her in what appeared to be a bad outtake from some off-off-Broadway performance of 'Cats.'
• Taylor Swift -- Let's get this out of the way right up front: This performance from last year isn't nearly as cringe-inducing as her duet with Stevie Nicks at the Grammys. And Lorne Michaels obviously liked it enough to invite her back as host. But as much as we love Taylor, in the interest of fairness, we have to include her here with this bit of advice: Work on the live performances, okay? Because as Randy Jackson would say, it's pitchy, dawg.
• Coldplay -- Don't get us wrong, we usually love Coldplay almost as much as we love Taylor Swift. But this 2008 performance has a couple things going against it: the singing and the dancing. If, in fact, this was dancing and not something requiring medical attention. Our plea to Chris Martin: Just concentrate on having enough breath in your lungs to hit the notes, bro. If you do that, we fans can take care of the dancing. Deal?
• Fear -- How bad you think this performance is depends entirely on your definition of bad. Fear's 1981 appearance on the Halloween edition of 'SNL' is one of the show's most famous musical moments ever. The punk band kicked off their set with the epic song 'Beef & Bologna,' which is about... well, exactly what you think it's about. That was enough to set off the dozens of hardcore punk fans they snuck into the building, who proceeded to start a full scale riot using pumpkins as the weapon of choice. The NYPD had to be called in and over a quarter of a million dollars in damages ensued. For fans of punk, this is one of the best shows ever. For everyone else, though, not so much.
• Sinead O'Connor -- Finally, we end with Sinead O'Connor's infamous 1992 appearance where she scandalized the nation by tearing a photo of the Pope in half while shouting, "Fight the real enemy!" Due to this act, O'Connor instantly became a pariah; booed offstage at live shows and widely trashed in the media, she quickly became the consensus choice as worst musical guest in 'SNL' history. This is one case where the (admittedly questionable) "performance" overshadowed the actual music, though, as O'Connor was in the middle of presenting a haunting, powerful a capella rendition of Bob Marley's classic song 'War.' And given the current tide of public opinion, we have a feeling she may not find herself on lists like this for too much longer.
Sinéad O'Connor - WAR - SNL - Funny home videos are a click away
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