Last time Kanye did Saturday Night Live he ended “Champion” with a clumsy freestyle that left some viewers convinced he bombed. Tonight’s performance on the Hugh Laurie-hosted Christmas episode likely garnered similar reactions. We’ve already heard how, despite the assistance of live Auto-Tune, Kanye’s vocals on “Love Lockdown” literally fall flat on TV (see Ellen, Kimmel). But because this show was live, KW didn’t attempt the high notes, instead going silent while they piped in a female backup singer. Awkward. “Heartless” brought less strain on his voice, and benefited from the cool rotoscoped video behind him, but halfway through morphed into “Pinocchio Story,” the laughable live track that closes out 808s. “There is no Gucci I could buy/ There is no Louis Vuitton to put on/ There is no YSL that they could sell/ To get my mind out of this hell.” To quote the departing Amy Poehler … REALLY!?!

“Love Lockdown”

“Heartless”/”Pinocchio Story”

Nice shades, though. (Those are not nice shades.)

Comments (99)
  1. Steve Jones  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Amazing… just amazing.

  2. the sunglasses display mannequin got into bill and ted excellent phone booth

  3. i want those eight minutes back. now.

  4. word up!  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Kanye is teh suck.

  5. crunk't  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I was going to question if Kanye has any sort of advisory team who would suggest he not sing live shows and reveal that his voice is terrible and expose the fact that effects and beats are what are keeping his “singing” career afloat, but then I remembered two unfortunate facts:
    1) any press is good press.
    2) the average music listener, having no sense of tasteful art, is completely won over by said effects and beats; the music, if relevant, is a marginal component.

  6. kanyesuckss  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 +1

    kanye is the worst. please stop reporting on him, no one gives a shit.

  7. d@ve  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    fine tune the next album. ouch

  8. chase  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Kanyesucks, I think you’re forgetting just how huge a celebrity Kanye is, aren’t you? You can’t just stop reporting on celebrities– ever.

  9. Mark  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    His performance of Love Lockdown on Letterman was really good, I liked it a lot better than the album version

    He didn’t have to do a singing album, I find seeing him stand up and do something that obviously makes him really uncomfortable and something he’s not really all that solid at quite endearing. He seems way out of his element, he seems vulnerable, I like that :)

  10. Liked the giant screen backgrounds and the way it shifted to a backlight by the chorus. Truth is Kanye is one cool looking dude.

    Eye candy value = A-

    Singing on key throughout a song that didn’t even have high notes in it = C

  11. Brad  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I thought the performance was great, especially Heartless. Of course Kanye doesn’t have a classicly good voice, but neither does a lot of really good artist. It’s about the emotional delivery and Kanye doesn’t lack that at all. And also he deserves kudos for stepping out of the box. A hip hop artists making pop music that sounds like New Order is his backing band…I think it’s great.

  12. no clothes that I could buy to go back in time… are you sure about that Kanye? Maybe you should just contact Dr. Emmett Brown, he could fix that up for ya.

    Sorry, I had never heard that song and fell asleep before that performance… SNL was that boring last night. Except for “David Patterson” interrupting
    Amy Poehler’s goodbye speech… it was a deadpan fest.

  13. Don Artilla  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I think it’s exciting to see an artist challenge themselves when they could simply sit on their ass and make the same shit for 20 years. It’s understandable you would shit on this as the only hip hop on this site is mainstream as FUCK or the streets.

    • submorstua  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

      I agree with your comment about how artists need to challenge themselves, but don’t you think there is a better way of accomplishing this than to sing out of tune on three national tv broadcasts?

    • MB  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

      Artists should challenge themselves when they have a diverse set of skills. Kanye West is a skilled producer and a decent rapper. He is not a good singer. The Ramones were the best at being the Ramones and they did essentially the exact same thing throughout their entire career. If you think they were capable of expanding their sound, I advise you to listen to Dee Dee’s rap album.

      Furthermore, ask yourself how challenging 808′s and Heartbreak really is. If it were put out by a new artist, it would not even be noticed. It is a departure for Kanye, yes, but there’s nothing revolutionary about pedestrian lyrics sung in a slightly distorted autotune over minimalist backing.

      And speaking of mainstream as FUCK hip-hop, Lil Wayne deserves no credit for pretending to play a guitar, but at least he doesn’t put out entire albums of his noodling.

  14. …what the fuck is kanye doing? did i just see a goose step?

  15. Ruben  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Hey “Heartless” was actually pretty good. I liked the new version of the song, I hope a studio version of that gets released someday, it’s my favourite song on the record.

    As for “Love Lockdown”, major major letdown. The guy couldn’t sing, he’s forcing his voice way too much on every live performance he does on TV. If he continues to do that, in five years he will sound like Bob Dylan does now. Bob Dylan is great, but his voice has been getting worse and worse in the last couple of years.

    So, Kanye, please, please, RAP on your next album. Please. What comes after Graduation? “A Good Ass Job”, so, release that, please! And, yes, use autotune, it’s fun indeed. I installed it in my computer and I can’t stop singing.

    • Purek  |   Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 0

      Hey Ruben how did you install that. If Kanye can get hit record using that maybe I could too. I came up with a tooth brush/tooth paste song and dance. People would pay for anything so im gonna be confident like Kanye and give it a try. lol

  16. Dexy Midnite Runner or Blue Jay Way  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Momentum is a magical thing…last nights episode had it. (even instant yard sale was selling it). Now if there were a real pepsi commercial using “let X =X”… Good luck Amy!

  17. Ryan  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    jesus christ, kanye sounds horrible and totally UNENJOYABLE! as a longtime kanye fan, this is embarrassing..

  18. maybe its not so impossible for me to have a successful music career.

  19. teressa   |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Yikes, Kanye scared the crap out of me last night. Does anyone think that he had a cold or some illness? I noticed that he was sweating like a pig right when he came out for his first song. He was so off key, even my 11 yr old noticed. I felt sad for Kanye last night. He was pretty horrible. And I am a big fan.

  20. Dammit! WTF is up with these rappers singing?! He sounds absolutely horrible. But what’s worse is that people are eating this shit up and no one cares that his voice is god awful, even with the autotuner.

    I will give him credit for being a showman though. His energy is good, in terms of performances, he is entertaining to watch. But I can’t respect that autotuning, voice digitized, “II’m going to pretend I can sing” crap. It just pisses me off. *rolls eyes*

    Rappers should leave the singing to real vocalists…

  21. Aaron  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I am by no means a Kanye fan, but i was impressed by his SNL performance. in so much that he is just about as mainstrem as it gets, and yet his songs sounded like something new, and that he was willing to go out there and sing without a backing track (for the most part) and sound really raw.
    i didnt enjoy it for the music so much as the idea

  22. Jabs  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Either that, or he’s so full of himself that he thinks he sounds great.

  23. Impressive. To be able to sing off key while still using Autotune. And he’s waaay off. Really, that’s quite a feat. It takes a zen like concentration to completely ignore every tone going on around you.

    Also, Kanye kind of dances like an awkward white dude.

    And yes, whoever mentioned it, I’m pretty sure I also saw a goose step in there.

  24. dan  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Utter, utter crap. What an overblown, overhyped talentless tool. Take away the Autotune, cartoon screens, way- gay dance moves and there’s just nothing there. Hard to listen to, hard to watch.

    And someone please tell SNL their recent constant string of crap-hop “musical” guests is getting reallllllly old. Please, hold off on the goddamned rappers for a while, huh?

  25. Moi  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    Kanye dances like a white boy.

  26. Wow. I still want my $8.99 back for his shit album.

  27. as someone who is only familiar with kanye’s singles….i have to say….those performances were like 80% laughable shit but like 20% incredible. like at the end of love lockdown when the drums come in it’s awesome. the lyrics in general though sound like a 12 year old wrote it. if he just produced and got a great singer in this style of production it could be amazing.

  28. erin  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    i am so tired of kanye. like, really?? people find this impressive?? i don’t get it.

  29. virgil  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    It’s great that he pushes himself out of his comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean the results are good. I think he’s a terrific songwriter and producer, and he knows how to work a studio, and I like his sincerity and energy. But none of those things make him a singer, and unfortunately, he’s a remarkably poor singer.

    He’s still got a perfect right to try it, but I was fascinated by the spectacle of a man who cannot sing being given a national forum to do so.

  30. Heather  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I’m not seeing why these are so bad. I mean he’s not a great singer but it’s a good performance of the material and he’s putting effort into it. His singing voice isn’t great but it isn’t terrible. As a fan of Kanye I enjoyed these. I guess if you’re out to get him then you could pick these apart and make fun of it though, and what else is the internet for? :P

    • NF  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

      I think everyone who is defending him is missing the point. If you want to step out of your comfort zone as a vocalist (a loosely applied term), you do it in your basement, or while playing Rockband with some very close friends. You do not do it on international television. I don’t watch SNL to see someone try something they are not good at, I watch to see professional comics and musical acts make me laugh or impress me with their skill as musicians. If I was an advertiser paying huge money to have some spots during last night’s show, I’d demand my money back, cause I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who changed the channel during both of KW’s performances. What a joke! Maybe his auto-tuner was switched to “de-tune.”

  31. Duncan  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I hope he goes away soon. When his vocals cut out on the high parts, that was just embarrassing for him. It served no artistic purpose other than that he couldn’t reach them! Well Kanye, if you can’t reach a note live, maybe you shouldn’t put it on your record. Apart from that, most of those notes he hit sound out of tune. It comes across as a young person with no vocal talent/training trying to perform. Does he start half yelling during the final chorus because he is so into the music and vibing hard or is it just because his voice is done?

  32. if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up

  33. Jeremy  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    After watching these videos I find myself wondering what would happen if Kanye went on American Idol. I’m guessing the judges would all snicker under their breath because he can’t sing in key. Simon would then tell him he was terrible and he would then begin crying, put on some big ass sunglasses and walk out yelling that everyone sucks and he’s the best. He’s lucky he’s so famous, otherwise the public would drop him in a second. He should stop wasting our time, step-aside and let someone with vocal talent take all these tv spots.

    • christian  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

      right on. because american idol is exactly what we need to tell us what is credible music and what isn’t.

  34. Sean  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0


  35. He’s worse at singing than Puffy is at rapping. Way worse.

  36. internet gangsta  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2008 0

    I’m sorry, what is laughable about publicly acknowledging the shortcomings of a modern materialist lifestyle?

    Kanye can’t sing. So what? We already knew that (p.s. So does he). Obviously he has some things he needs to get off his chest; most of which he’s talked about at length in interview after interview explaining his new (very personal) direction.

    Why don’t you buzzards find a new bone to pick?

  37. Kanye’s voice is shot. We know that. Just hearing him talk, you can hear that’s it’s hoarse and rough.

    But he cares enough about his music that he’ll do whatever it takes to get it out there.

    Personally, these were my favorite performances of these two songs thus far. Pinocchio Story has clunky lines, yes, undeniably, but I thought the overall effect of that modification of Heartless was pretty awesome.

  38. The visuals were really cool. I enjoy Kanye’s evolution as an artist.
    Even if he makes mistakes I applaud him for having the balls to fall flat on his face.
    I hope and believe he will make music that he wants rather then cave to what his fans expect.

  39. maddie   |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    This was a really awkward three minutes.

  40. holy  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    holy shit that is bad. So fucking out of tune. Terrifyingly bad.

  41. jfromp  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    This is what happens when you sing in ALL CAPS.

  42. What’s so endearing about this “era” of his career is how willing he is to be pretty much vocally “naked” in front of an international television audience. He knows he’s missing a few notes, he knows he’s just screaming the last chorus on “Love Lockdown” but – he’s also smart enough to realize that the technical shortcomings of someone’s music don’t really matter in the end. It’s what you were trying to say, and how successfully you said it. Kanye is feeling vulnerable, heartbroken, emotional, etc. and it’s coming through in his music. 808s and Heartbreak (and the live performances that accompany it) portrays that. It’s an artistic success. Might I remind you, Bob Dylan (for example, not necessarily comparing the two) was never able to sing “well” – but he kept saying what he wanted to say.

  43. Rob  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    I thought both tracks were great. He’s giving everything he can to put on a great emotional and visually stunning performance. Its funny that there are a few mentions of Dylan on this thread. Remember how well Dylan’s change of direction was received in ’64? You should be ashamed of yourselves for knocking someone for expressing their creativity in a new and interesting way. I can’t think of any other rappers or top 40 artists that are willing to take the risks Kanye is taking with his music and his reputation.

  44. Brian  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    Comparing Kanye to Bob Dylan? I guess Kanye is the ‘voice of a generation.’

    Dylan had something interesting to say. Kanye does not–unless you are into fashion references. I get it, he’s sad, but if you think his lyricism at all compares to Dylan you’re sad.

    • christian  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

      really missed the point here…

      nobody compared kanye’s lyricism or importance to that of dylan. nobody..

  45. mattyphe  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    Wow…..I’m pretty surprised by all the Kanye hate. 808s was a pretty surprising album, i really enjoyed it. Like so many people have said, these performances are more about energy and emotion…..Sure he’s off-tune a few times but that is nowhere near ruining these songs……the songs themselves are just too strong to be ruined.

    Great performances.

  46. If you think all Kanye does is vain fashion references, then you have never heard We Don’t Care, Spaceship, Family Business, All Falls Down, Two Words, Jesus Walks, School Spirit, Heard Em Say, Drive Slow, Bring Me Down, Diamonds from Sierra Leone (+ the remix), his verse on Put On, his verse on Go Hard, Hey Mama, Touch the Sky, Homecoming, Crack Music, Roses, Addiction, Late, Gone, I Wonder, Big Brother, Everything I Am, or any song from 808s & Heartbreaks.

    but of course, these are all a very small part of Kanye West’s output.

  47. kjkwis  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    If Kanye wants to think he is the voice of this generation, he needs to listen to the playback from the SNL performances. That was truly aweful. He sounded equally horrible on the AMAs. Maybe Kanye shouldn’t attempt singing…just rap. Rap a tap tap. Even though rap is pretty dead. That’s another topic to discuss.

  48. Rob  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    Man….you’re missing the point. I’m not comparing Kanye to Dylan. I’m comparing your response to Kanye to the responses of the music snobs of 64 who thought that Dylan was joke for his new sell-out music that they thought was complete nonsense…you know…those crappy songs like Like A Rolling Stone, Ballad of the Thin Man, Maggie’s Farm. Kanye’s music may not be comparable to Dylan’s but the way he’s putting himself out there and creating the music that he wants to create in the face of a widely negative reaction, I think, is definitely comparable.

  49. Sara  |   Posted on Dec 15th, 2008 0

    That’s why you don’t see Eminem performing that song he sang for Hailie–it belongs on the ALBUM. And Em didn’t even use an auto-tuner!!!

  50. I ain’t loving this, the way he wants me to
    I want him to stop, killing me with the autotune
    His vocal chords are getting shot each time he performs
    You loose ‘Ye you loose…

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