In the interest of disclosure (and because I can hear the “fanboy” comments coming already), yes, I’m a fan. I was impressed the first time I heard “Just Dance” and hooked after hearing Gaga’s whole album. Seeing her live just sealed the deal.
So I was looking forward to Saturday’s show because I knew Lady G wasn’t going to let an opportunity like “SNL” go without taking full advantage of it. It was just a matter of exactly how she’d use it – crazy stunts (like the Kermit pelt dress and bloody MTV Video Music Awards appearance) or pull out all the stops and kick ass with her performance.
The first surprise came during a “Deep House Dish” segment. As a former club DJ, I think DHD is hilarious and spot on in its harpooning of the culture. It’s a natural place for Lady Gaga to show up. And who could be a better guest on a show about club music than Gaga? Madonna. Although it was clear the two pop icons (“Respect!”) could have used a little more rehearsal, the sight of them pulling each other’s hair and dissing each other (“What the hell is a disco stick?”) was a riot.
Then came the first musical number, which didn’t disappoint. In a fierce red leather outfit and mask/headdress, Lady Gaga showed off her stuff with a new arrangement of “Paparazzi.” The singer proved in front of millions of viewers that she’s not a lip-synching poser while also demonstrating her dancing ability and hinting at what was to come with a keytar solo.
If the first number was solid and proved the lady had skills, the second number was nothing short of a showstopper. The segment opened with Gaga standing on a rotating platform wearing a gyroscopic harness that made her look like Saturn. As she sang “Love Game,” she moved slightly, causing the rings on the harness to spin and circle about her. Cool to look at, but no big deal really.
But then came the killing blow. Lady G moved to the piano (still wearing the harness) and fitted her mic into a holder as the band continued to play. Once she got situated and arranged the rings so she could see the audience, the music stopped.
What followed was a four-minute display of piano and vocal talent that couldn’t be faked. With a wave at the audience, Gaga launched into a solo piano version of a new song, segued into a classical piano interlude and then her hit “Poker Face” (for which she’d written new autobiographical lyrics) and wrapped up the number with a ragtime interlude and a shout out to SNL.
Love her or hate her, it was an impressive performance that finally showed off what lies beneath all the smoke and mirrors. More please.
Monday, Oct. 5
Joss Stone – “Chelsea Lately”
Jamie Foxx – “The Jay Leno Show”
Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers – “Late Show With David Letterman”
Dierks Bentley – “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
Christopher Cross – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Pink – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour creator), Pete Yorn – “Last Call with Carson Daly”
Tuesday, Oct. 6
KISS – “Late Show With David Letterman”
Anvil – “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
They Might Be Giants – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
The Gossip – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Laura Izibor – “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”
Joe Firstman – “Last Call with Carson Daly”
Wednesday, Oct. 7
Wanda Sykes – “The Jay Leno Show”
Rosanne Cash – “Late Show With David Letterman”
Toby Keith – “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
Lenny Kravitz – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
KISS – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Anya Marina – “Last Call with Carson Daly”
Thursday, Oct. 8
Backstreet Boys – “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”
Ben Harper, Jim Black – “The Jay Leno Show”
Backstreet Boys – “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
Motorhead – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Joss Stone – “Last Call with Carson Daly”
Friday, Oct. 9
Toby Keith – “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”
Brett Dennen – “Late Show With David Letterman”
Lady Antebellum – “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”
Cory Chisel – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Backstreet Boys – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”