Elle Hunt takes a walk through the top ten rubber-legged lipstick-smeared music moments to grace our TV screens this year. //
Acknowledging that there are few things more boring or redundant than remarks about how fast this year has gone, how fast has this year gone?! To think that this time 12 months ago, we’d just gone to ground with Beyonce’s ‘visual album’, emerging three months later to find other music hollow and only tentatively feminist. Since then we’ve endured through another gruelling cycle of awards ceremonies, late-night performances, reality shows, season finales, guest appearances, and mass televised weddings MC’d by an entertainer perhaps best known for Bringing Down The House. Let’s take a look at the top ten televised moments in music of 2014.
Drake hosts Saturday Night Live
While Nicki Minaj struggled to keep a straight face during her Kim Kardashian bit last week, you got the sense that Drake spent a lot of time preparing to host SNL in January. And that’s because he’s a professional. The shout-out to his fellow Jewish-Canadians in the audience, the apology for “YOLO” – eager to please and polished, he gave the impression throughout that he was ticking a big-ticket item off his bucket list. Plus he demonstrated a comedic flair that he didn’t get to show off on Degrassi or, like, “Marvin’s Room”.
Macklemore performs “Same Love” at the Grammy’s
Thirty-three same sex couples, introduced by Queen Latifah, tying the knot at the Grammy’s while Macklemore performs his cloying marriage equality anthem with Mary Lambert and jazz artist Trombone Shorty. It was sort of like a scene Ben Elton or Dave Barry might write to exemplify the ridiculousness of the entertainment industry, and that was even before Madonna turned up for some reason. Maybe you don’t get many opportunities to crack out the old turn-of-the-century cowboy hat as formalwear. “I mean I wouldn’t do any old song with any old artist,” she lied through a gold grill to Ryan Seacrest. At the end of the performance, hopeless romantic Ringo Starr was apparently overheard suggesting to Paul McCartney that they renew their vows. (To their respective partners, not each other, presumably.)
Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons perform at the Grammy’s
Given the questionable street cred of both mash-ups and Imagine Dragons, Kendrick deserves kudos for doing justice to the dry-ice budget and giving this performance his all – especially in light of his Best Rap Album loss. (But Macklemore totally made up for that later.) You can hear the whole room skip a beat when he finishes his verse and no one knows what to do with themselves. Least of all Imagine Dragons.
Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform “Give It Away” at the Superbowl
This was a thing that happened ???
Future Islands perform “Seasons (Waiting On You)” on The Late Show
They might’ve had four albums out, but Future Islands were still the best band no one had heard of when they appeared on Letterman in March. With this performance, frontman Samuel T. Herring and his raw, rubber-legged dance moves captured the attention – and the collective gif-creation prowess – of the internet.“The eye contact. The sincere chest thumping. The limbo dancing right after that stomach-churning, guttural roar. The whole thing is strangely unsettling, incredibly moving and brave enough to risk teetering to the very brink of out-and-out hilarity without quite falling off the edge,” Tim Jonze gushed in the Guardian. Like Rihanna’s rendition of “Stay” on SNL two years ago, it will endure as an example of just how good late-night shows can get. (Honourable mention: FKA Twigs and her “air sculptures” on Fallon last month.)
The Pawnee-Eagleton Unity Concert in the Parks and Recreation season finale
In Tom Haverford, Parks and Recreation created a space in which to ask “Is it a banger?”, but there were no drops and plenty of acoustic instruments in the season six finale in April. The Pawnee-Eagleton Unity Concert celebrating the merger of the once-antagonistic cities was headlined by The Decemberists, Yo La Tengo as Night Ranger cover band Bobby Knight Ranger, Letters to Cleo, and Jeff Tweedy’s fictional group Land Ho!. Turns out Colin Meloy describing a burger pattie sandwiched between two pizzas before launching into “The Crane Wife 3” perfectly sums up Parks and Rec’s combination of earnest and eccentric. And Ginuwine’s tribute to Li’l Sebastian was a perfect callback to season four.
“Don’t Fear The Reaper”, Orange is the New Black season two finale
There’s little more satisfying than the perfect choice of song in the final moments of a season finale, especially when it’s paired with the spectacular death of a deeply unpleasant character that everyone had been holding out for, really (spoilers!). It was bold of Orange is the New Black to go for a song best known for needing more cowbell, but if any series can give it a new lease on life, it’s this one.
Beyonce’s Beyonce medley at the VMAs
It’s hard to believe now, but there was a moment earlier this year when it looked like Beyonce might lose control of her image. The rumours and speculation that have long surrounded her personal life reached fever pitch when footage leaked of her sister Solange attacking Jay-Z in an elevator in May – but by the time the Video Music Awards rolled round just three months later, PR master Bey had regained the upper hand.
During a 15-minute medley of her self-titled album, she dismissed the incident as one of those little dramas that are bound to happen when you and your husband are both worth billions of dollars and don’t want to take the stairs. And her accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from her husband and child was the picture-perfect portrait of exactly what she’d promised in the press release: a united family. We finish up 2014 exactly as we started it: eating out of Beyonce’s coconut-scented (probably) palm.
“F*** That Dad” on Jono And Ben At Ten
With Mustard on most every beat and Iggy Azalea the most thinkpiece’d artist of the year, their influence was bound to trickle down to a comedy skit on free-to-air TV in New Zealand. Immediately, your expectations are low – but you guys, “F*** That Dad” is smart, witty, well-executed, and not at all racist! Which is more than can be said of Iggy Azalea. The first in Jono And Ben’’s “WhyTunes” series, it’s also the best, with not even a good-humoured spot from Benny Tipene enough to rescue “End of the World” from the subsequent ‘that’s not a metaphor!’ unpleasantness. (Honourable mention: ‘Fancy’ parody “Ponsonby” on The Paul Henry Show.)
Lorde performs “Yellow Flicker Beat” at the American Music Awards
Lorde’s nailing of 2014 has been written about persuasively elsewhere, even before she made that sassy tweet to Diplo and owned up to dumpster diving. Her stellar year culminated with this confident and compelling performance at the American Music Awards, which showed just how far she’d come. Her lipstick smear at the end felt like a defiant, even defining ‘coming of age’ gesture, even if the New Zealand Herald did reduce it to a weird and embarrassing infographic about how to ‘get the look’. Who knows, maybe it’s already been cracked out at your work Christmas party.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.