Ayo Blogger Idiots… You Know “Saturday Night Live” Is Screwing With You, Right?

The verdict is out: TV On The Radio sucked on Saturday Night Live. The acclaimed critics’ darlings, the band whose last Brooklyn show caused The New York Times to boast it was “complete ownership of its sound,” the band fresh off a 28-date tour, the band whose sound design is so pristine that it made even Scarlett Johansson wanted to cuddle up with a buncha Billyburg beardos. Yeah, they sucked. Just like Ashlee Simpson, and Kanye, and Fleet Foxes, and Taylor Swift. And, I’m no R. Buckminster Fuller but, is there a pattern here? Maybe since the pattern is “music bloggers passionately taking about how they never miss an episode of Saturday Night Live,” and NBC would have to be pretty short-sighted to actually do anything about the musical performances’ lousy sound quality instead of just basking in the free publicity. Thanks for taking the bait, suckers! Here’s a video of Andy Samberg on a boat!

Compare the version of “Dancing Choose” played on Saturday Night Live with the version played on last night’s Colbert Report.

Saturday Night Live:

Colbert Report:

I’m no sound nerd, but you can tell that the Colbert track was actually mixed to sound like a band, not a collection of errant noises that happen to appear in a room together.

—It is almost as if the sound guy on Colbert has heard this band before and knows that an intrinsic part of their sound is post-4AD sound mush. That the goal is not putting Tunde screaming over the entire mix like Kelly Clarkson.
—The handclaps actually sound like handclaps not like Fred Armisen adding an armpit squeak sound effect and grinning.
—Kyp’s guitar is a warm effect, not a jet engine. Also it sounds tuned!
—The saxophone is not pushing the entire mix into the red. And sounds like a saxophone, not Toonces driving off a cliff directly into the indie rock blogosphere where people are completely livid that this would happen for the 1,000th time this year.

Stop taking the bait, you clowns. Saturday Night Live knows people were watching last weekend’s episode for the cute guy in He’s Not That Into You, not for the band that gets mad shout-outs from [MUSIC BLOG NAME REDACTED]. So how does SNL get extra free press from music bloggers? By making those bands’ performances worthy of comment from the snarky post-Gawker cyberworld, where you don’t get mad traffic for “Oh, Spoon was just so darn good on Letterman! I wanna cuddle Britt Daniel in a Snuggie!” You get traffic for “The sound on SNL was so bad that I hope everyone in 30 Rockefeller gets a hand-engraved envelope full of anthrax and syphilis and farts.”

So, keep up the good work bloggers! You’re doing everything possible to make sure that when your dream comes true and Wavves inevitably performs on the Studio 8H stage, it’ll sound like Jefferson Starship.

  • OokieDookie

    SNL doesn’t just make good bands suck, they make good writers suck too.
    Paging Tina Fey…

  • Michaelangelo Matos

    Yeah, Lorne’s totally monitoring Stereogum and whispering into the sound guy’s ear.

  • Weezy F Baby

    You’re so far up TVOTR’s ass that you’ve concocted a theory that SNL intentionally keeps the sound bad so they get press from music blogs?? That’s 911 Was An Inside Job-level stupidity.

    And if I remember correctly, everyone talked about how good Fleet Foxes sounded, along with the Killers. Even Jason Mraz ended up sounding pretty good on SNL.

  • Lax Danja House

    @Weezy F Baby: Or, like, you don’t get facetiousness.

  • Weezy F Baby

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Right?!? “We need to hit that early twentysomething, non-music-buying demo hard!”

  • Weezy F Baby

    @Lax Danja House: Maybe I need to get my radar checked, but uh, if this is tongue in cheek then I give up.

  • feller

    i’m glad tvotr weren’t on the grammy’s because everybody on there sounded way way worse. and yes, some of them would sound horrible regardless but that’s not what i mean…

  • Eugene Langley

    Admittedly, the sound could have been better under any circumstances, but couldn’t some part of it have to do with the whole idea of a live broadcast? The Colbert performance sounded good probably in part because they had a chance to touch it up a little before it aired.

  • AquaLung

    @Lax Danja House: Then: Good post. REALLY funny.

  • tigerpop

    @Eugene Langley: The Colbert sound mix probably got a second look before airing, but there was surely a soundcheck before the SNL broadcast at which time the engineer should have said “saxophones are loud!” and turned the fucker down.

  • Swankster

    @Weezy F Baby:

    No shit huh? Sarcasm has no value as a vehicle for a writer when readers are left confused of intent. So either this is a horribly unfunny post trying to prod, or we are supposed to take it without irony – which I think most can agree that that premise is retarded.

    SNL purposefully wrecking performances to bait Monday morning blog posts? Whhhat? Does Idolater not count its face circus-painted too when one of its writers posts “Stop taking the bait, you clowns.” You guys are perhaps more counted to comment on SNL than anyone else!

    Paging self-awareness….DOES NOT COMPUTE!

  • Maura Johnston

    @Swankster: i always have clown paint on. it makes laundry a bitch, but what are you going to do.

  • Al Shipley

    knew this was a Weingarten post as soon as I read the phrase “Billyburg beardos”

  • Swankster

    @Maura Johnston:

    I can imagine the looks…oh there goes that blogger again.

  • joshservo

    Hey, not to be a stickler, but the SNL clip is “Golden Age,” not “Dancing Choose.” I’d love to hear the song-to-song comparison. Additionally, if there’s a live TV recording of “Golden Age” out there that has Kyp singing in a key that exists within the musical scale as we know it, that would be fantastic as well.

  • Swankster

    @joshservo: Youtube already yanked them, but I tried in this post: [www.merryswankster.com]

  • Maura Johnston

    @Swankster: you don’t know the half of it!

    @joshservo: whoops, fixed. also, someone posted this in yesterday’s comments — it’s from jools holland’s show in the uk:


  • joshservo

    @Maura Johnston: Thanks for that. Okay, admittedly, that’s way better as a cohesive piece. But to my ears, Kyp’s falsetto remains tragic in any mixing permutation, and I wish he’d leave that choice to the studio.

  • KikoJones

    Um, judging solely from these clips, the SNL mix is actually tighter, while Colbert’s sounds noisy and scattered.

  • OingoBobo

    Still not impressed. You kids with your attitude and the handclap and the thing with the tinny “dunna dunna dunna”.
    Get offa my lawn.

  • phaballa

    And yet NSYNC managed not to suck. I guess you just have to be able to sing acapella. Or at all.

  • Weezy F Baby

    All of these comparison clips are garbage as well. It’s the BAND.

  • AL

    Speaking of taking the bait: 22 comments! (so far!)

  • AL

    Talk about taking the bait… I mean yeesh you guys! ^^^^^^^^^^

    and why do TVOTR haters hate them so so hard?

  • AL


  • Weezy F Baby

    Because, whenever a band receive undeserved praise, those of us that can see through bullshit have to take it upon ourselves to lavish an equal amount of vitriol on them.

    I believe the street term is “hating.”

  • Anonymous

    @Weezy F Baby: Hater!!

  • Anonymous

    Good Christ. A band should be able to sound halfway decent on ANY TV performance. Especially if the shows regularly have bands performing.

    If they can’t pull it off, maybe they need to – I dunno – NOT agree to be booked on TV shows. More room for acts that can actually sound good performing live.

  • Anonymous

    Even though Youtube (and its shitty quality) pulled “Dancing Choose” from SNL, you can still watch it here in better quality: [theaudioperv.com] (Thanks for the linkage in the post, Idolator peeps)

  • Anonymous

    If anyone bothered to look into it they would have noticed that both Colbert and Snl had the same sound engineer for the TV on the Radio performances.

  • Anonymous

    I stumbled on this post when I did a search for “SNL bad music band choices.” With the occasionally rare decent music performances set aside, the music director and producer must be on dope. Not only have I never heard of most of the groups (which is fine, as I do like new music and not getting stuck in a rut), but their music just totally blows. The stage presence of most of these bands this season makes me think that they rounded up a group of buskers from the subway and threw them on stage. Why don’t they get people that are going to entertain, instead of trying to give some soon to be failing band their “big break.”

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