St. Vincent On SNL

Tonight’s SNL season 39 finale addressed the week’s big viral video (Solange attacking Jay Z in an elevator, in case you forgot) right in the cold open. It was pretty good! Jay (Jay Pharoah) and Solange (Sasheer Zamata) let us know everything’s cool between them, and actually if you watch the video with audio it tells a different story: Solange was hitting and kicking a spider off her brother-in-law at his request, because he has arachnophobia. Then Beyoncé (Maya Rudolph) shows up.

Recent Golden Globe winner (and newlywed to Joanna Newsom) Andy Samberg was the host, so a new Lonely Island pre-taped sketch was a pretty sure bet. And there were two. The first was an EDM-themed digital short called “When Will The Bass Drop?” starring Samberg as DJ DAVVINCI and featuring Lil Jon in a cameo.

Then Annie Clark performed “Digital Witness” and Twitter was confused.

The second digital short, “Hugs,” featured Pharrell Williams and Tatiana Maslany.

A wedding-themed Waking Up With Kimye included Taran Killam as Bruce Jenner/Linda.

Sandberg reprised his Blizzard Man in a sketch with 2 Chainz.

St. Vincent’s second song was “Birth In Reverse.”

Surprise guests in addition to the aforementioned Maya Rudolph, 2 Chainz, Lil Jon, Pharrell Williams, and Tatiana Maslany included Martin Short, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and Jorma Taccone.

Comments (59)
  1. St. Vincent was awesome. It appears that some people are not familiar with her unique sound and performance art. NOT a horrible performance in the least. I guess some people don’t dare allow themselves to think out of the box musically.

    • I actually thought both performances were really solid. Not sure where the negativity is coming from, but its disappointing that Stereogum chose to focus on it. Par for the course lately.

    • No, I thought it was terrible because if it was terrible. It was archaic noise strewn together as if it were melodic and musical, under the guise of being cool. Watching her strum her guitar was like watching cats drown. It made me physically ill. Now I am not just a fan or casual listener of music and or SNL. I am a successful music producer and audio engineer with an extremely eclectic taste in music. If there is one thing I know, it is music and sound. And that garbage was not music and it should not be accepted as such by anyone. Especially during live performances, it is clear whether or not a performer has any musical ability. And none of these “musicians” (apart from the drumme)r had any ability (and the drummer was likely a hired musician). The only explanation I have of any of you defending this trash is either 1, the record label is paying people to post positive comments to counteract The negative effects of these hateful yet accurate comments. Or 2, you are truly moronic. Excuse me, I must go throw up now.

      • Oh yeah, also if you are one who supports the idea that anybody that did not like that terrible music does not like it because it is different or somehow outside of the mainstream, your thoughts are taken with a grain of salt. I love music that is different. I love music that is challenging to listen to. I love complexities and unorthodox melodies and rhythms. I thrive on originality and creativity in music. St. Vincent has absolutely none of those things. And if you believe that you like their music because of those attributes, your musical understanding must be that of a three year old. St. Vincent’s music is more akin to Kanye West’s music that it is to any underground creative artist. St. Vincent sounds like children pushing buttons. and please don’t take my comments personally. I really say things like this to get a reaction and make people laugh… Nonetheless St. Vincent is terrible.

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  3. Exactly the type of reaction I would expect from the dim-witted people still watch SNL.

    • It seems like it has become fashionable to trash snl. Most people that disparage it have probably not watched an episode in years. I find the sketches this season funny more often than not. Everyone always compares snl to its past, i’m 26 years old and have been hearing my whole life that it is not as good as it used to be. I was surprised how solid it has been this year after the cast turnovers last year.

  4. St Vincent actually sounded pretty good, considering SNL’s notoriously bad sound. These Twitter folk don’t deserve nice things. I wonder how they’d react if someone like Joanna Newsom were the musical guest. (And then I wonder what they’d think when they find out she’s Andy Samberg’s wife.)

    • To the first part, exactly! Sound was great for SNL. To the second part, I remember when Joanna was on David Letterman and I expected the crowd to freak out afterwards. …. the didn’t. *shrug*

  5. Hyperbole on Twitter – Ha! – silly twits. Figures they wouldn’t get “Digital Witness.” It was great to see St. Vincent on SNL. I really enjoyed it.

  6. This is Arcade Fire at the Grammys all over again, Lol, why do people react so strongly to someone performing on a TV show? Calm down, Twitter-shouters.

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  9. My only complaint with St. Vincent is that she played the two songs she’s played on every other show. I want to see some Prince Johnny, or some Rattlesnake, or some I Prefer Your Love!

    • prince johnny is my favorite off the album. hell, it’s now one of my all time favorite st vincent songs.

    • I also think those were the wrong song choices, but I generally find them to be the least compelling from the album and disagree with them as singles. I wish she’d picked at least one slower number so the confused mainstream audience could catch up. THEY CAN’T HANDLE ALL OF THIS AT ONCE!

      • “Digital Witness” and “Birth In Reverse” have the hooks, which is why they’re the singles. But I agree that there are songs on the album that would make a bigger impact & serve as a better introduction to St. Vincent. If she had pulled out “Huey Newton” I think she would’ve melted some faces.

  10. At least it proves that music can still be affecting in a way that can engender such extreme reactions. Most people watching TV still believe that pop music is only intended to make you feel good, wait for the next advertising break or shout at stadiums. The reactions would have been equally hostile if that had been 1966 Bob Dylan or 1972 Lou Reed, I guess. So it’s pretty comforting to see that indie pop music still has the power to disturb people with deep-seated convictions. And of course, that was a great performance as well.

    • I would like to think that were true, but let’s be honest. Twitter is where people get that enraged with literally ANYTHING that they disagree with. I would expect many times more rage from twitter if Taco Bell discontinued their cool ranch doritos tacos.

  11. honestly I was proud that an artist as different and cool as St. Vincent landed musical guest. (I’m not saying they’re unknown but I would not have pegged them as a contender for snl) I think their performance was solid and they did their thing. The people on twitter can bitch all they want, but in the end St. Vincent got up and rocked it on national television, so suck it trebek!

  12. Twitter: where those frustrated with the strict no profanity rules of the Yahoo! comments sections go to be stupid.

  13. the online backlash against annie playing digital witness is pretty fucking hilarious.

  14. This is the first time I’ve heard St. Vincent, for whatever reason, and I thought that was great. Definitely a different sound, but totally catchy and pretty badass. And Annie looked gorgeous.

    Close-minded people can hate on anything, really.

  15. I think it’s always interesting when something from the self-contained indie world is exposed to a wider audience. Usually, only people who are very likely to like St. Vincent will be ones that will even give it a listen. This world launches people to iconic status within their own universe, that it shocks me how surprised or disappointed they are when their favorite is in the spotlight getting the slings and arrows from everyone else for once (instead of the other way around). I think this portion of the music world could use that sort of exercise more often.

    • I think people find it confusing because St. Vincent is about as “mainstream” as you can get if you are talking about anything indie. I mean she’s toured with David Byrne and practically played every single big festival and there is nothing out there about her sound, yet people are reacting like if it’s the Blood Brothers up there.

      • And nothing against the Blood Brothers, that’s just the first band I thought of that induces such a polarizing reaction from people.

    • The thing is, it’s in no way surprising. Not trying to go on some douchebaggy underground excursion here, but the average teenager/young adult is obsessed with the idea of “indie” without actually being open to music that pushes any sort of boundary. It’s the reason why artists like Foster the People, Mumford & Sons, and Lorde are/were incredibly popular. They get touted as being alternative acts when in reality, they’re essentially the same mainstream pop that gets repackaged a bit edgier or weirder and played on alternative radio.

      It’s kind of bizarre how some people think they’re above Top 40 (which, poptimist warning, actually has some great songs every so often) and are proud of listening to lowest common denominator “faux” indie. It’s an illusion that’s marketed and sold to millions of people who all want to be different in the same way. I know a lot of people around my age (I’m 20) who talk about how “hipster” they are, when in reality they probably couldn’t stand a lot of the music featured on sites like Stereogum. It’s more fashionable and easier to adopt style without the substance

      Long story short, I have no problem with the music I was describing, I just find the way things get marketed and the way people present themselves make it not all shocking when Twitter shits its pants about St. Vincent being on SNL.

  16. Its probably the same thing for us when we saw that digital short, “when will the bass drop.” Everyone in the audience thought that the music was so awesome. I realize that was acting, but people actually like the music where the musician isnt doing anything. I guess they don’t think that st. Vincent killing it on the guitar counts as good music.

  17. Samberg completely carried the show, along with the past SNL members. I don’t really like the constant shitting on modern SNL, but there was a pronounced difference in quality between ex-cast like Samberg and Hader and the current cast.

    And St. Vincent killed it.

  18. Those bastards are on my list.

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  20. How much more pissed would her fans be if the 16 year olds who tuned into to watch Andy Samberg had LOVED St Vincent?

  21. Enjoyed the Di vinci and the St. Vinny, but the Pharrell hugs sketch was a neutered dog. Also the Jay Pharoh kanye and girl that banged fred amisen kim has got to be the worst.

    Lorne Michaels is clearly the devil if Andy Samberg won an emmy.


  22. LOL at the irony of Twitter Idiots complaining about St. Vincent singing about Twitter Idiots.

  23. I wish Annie could show up in my house If I say (Bettlejuice) “St. Vincent” 3x lol

  24. The EDM digital short was the best. thing. ever. It was spot-on point. The best. It was much better than Cats. I’m going to see it again and again.

    Samburg is becoming the next Fallon for me. Found them both serviceable when on the show, only to grow to really miss them and like them more post-SNL.

  25. What kills me is that the demographic that makes SNL alums successes like Portlandia and Jimmy Fallon’s late night shows, should be well familiar and probably love St. Vincent. Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. When she played “She is Beyond Good and Evil” on Late Night, my face melted. I thought the Samberg/ St. Vincent show was a match made in hipster heaven. I guess the proverbial bass dropped.

  26. People who watch Saturday Night Live need to get out more.

  27. Wow ppl, there are other genres of music than radio-top-pop or basic hip-hop. Funny how ppl will not give something that is not mainstream amongst anything a chance. A lot is missed on ignorance.

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  29. I think she sounded really good. She’s edgy and creative. Not your standard, cookie cutter act, especially as a female. Of course, the average mainstream music listener is not going to get it and hence the ridicule.

    The Andy Samberg EDM bit was the best.

  30. Thanks Stereogum, for introducing me to St. Vincent. She is excellent!!! It’s too bad many people don’t like challenging and/or different music.
    BTW, why re-broadcast all the Twitter hate? Just because she’s not Drake? Do all SNL bands have to be popular in the mainstream? IMHO, Drake sucked! I sure hope you re-broadcasted all the Drake hate when he was the musical guest.

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