The 5 Worst ‘Saturday Night Live’ Performances From The Past 10 Years: Did The Artists’ Careers Bounce Back?

Robbie Daw | October 27, 2014 11:05 am

Sketch comedy mainstay Saturday Night Live, now in its 40th year, can either be a career-launching platform or a soul-destroying one. And with each episode, artists take a gamble by walking onto the live series’ stage and giving it their all. (Well, sometimes they walk on stage only to jig off a minute later, but more on that below.)

We’ve started to notice a pattern here, which is that the SNL performances deemed to be “terrible” occur about every other year, and only in the even years. Right on schedule, Danish singer backed up Iggy Azalea this past weekend, giving the show its first water-cooler live performance (in a not-so-good way) since Lana Del Rey in 2012.

Below, we rounded up five of the most dissed Saturday Night Live showings by musical acts from the past decade. We then took a closer look at what happened to their individual careers after the fact. Some were able to pick up the pieces (the pieces, the pieces of me), while others, well…

October 23, 2004: ASHLEE SIMPSON

What happened: Ashlee Simpson had a good thing going 10 years ago when her debut LP Autobiography and its lead single “Pieces Of Me” saw her eclipsing older, more established sister Jessica for a brief moment. Cut to the fall, when the younger Simpson performed said song on SNL. Okay, great — that went well. But when she hit the stage again to, um, “belt out” her album’s title track, the “Pieces Of Me” vocals suddenly played over the speakers instead, yet Ashlee’s mouth wasn’t moving. Uh oh. Ashlee’s knee-jerk reaction was to do a jig right off the stage, leaving her band in the lurch and Saturday Night Live producers having to cut to a commercial. The aftermath: Neither of Ashlee’s follow-up albums sold as well as her debut, and she only ever eked out one more Top 20 single after the SNL debacle, “Boyfriend.” She didn’t fare much better with a brief foray into acting: her character was written off of the CW’s 2009 reboot of Melrose Place before the series itself was canceled after only one season.

December 13, 2008: KANYE WEST

What happened: With three multi-platinum albums already in his illustrious discography, Kanye West kicked off the campaign for 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak with lead single “Love Lockdown,” a track that found him singing (with the aid of some heavy Auto Tune) rather than rapping. ‘Ye should have opted for employing those same vocal tricks during his SNL performance of the song, though, as certain moments while on stage found him struggling to keep up. To West’s credit, he did not opt to jig out of sight. The aftermath: Despite the jabs about his live performance on the show, Kanye followed up “Love Lockdown” (#3 on the Hot 100) with the higher-charting single “Heartless” (#2), not to mention a multitude of other hit songs and albums. That said, 808s & Heartbreak was the first Kanye West LP to not go double-Platinum, and his album sales have continued to slide.

April 17, 2010: KESHA

What happened: I’ve never understood what was wrong with this amazing performance, so you all can kiss my butt. Glow in the dark body paint forever! The aftermath: Kesha remains a flawless goddess. Watch and learn, lesser poplets!

January 14, 2012: LANA DEL REY

What happened: By the end of 2011, the online buzz surrounding Lana Del Rey and her dreamy hit “Video Games” had reached a fever-pitch level, so naturally there were already a fair amount of haters waiting in the wings. Perhaps scheduling the doom-pop songbird for a Saturday Night Live performance before her album was even out was a bit lofty, but Lana accepted the challenge. Alas, she was just “okay” on the show, if not entirely stiff and awkward. Poor Lana didn’t really do much but sway back and forth and offer the occasional gif-worthy twirl. The aftermath: The media and Twitter denizens salivated at the non-spectacle and pounced ferociously. Lana seemed to retreat, offering a minimal amount of interviews throughout 2012 (and forevermore after that). Despite all the SNL drama early in her career, Del Rey’s album Born To Die later debuted at #2 and became a Platinum-seller, while the Cedric Gervais remix of “Summertime Sadness” gave Lana her first Top 10 single in 2013. She then one-upped herself in 2014 when her sophomore LP Ultraviolence topped the album chart.

October 25, 2014: MØ (WITH IGGY AZALEA)

What happened: Poor MØ probably never expected to land on a list like this, let alone perform on Saturday Night Live. In fact, when Iggy Azalea first performed her new single “Beg For It” a month back, Charli XCX was the one chirping the chorus. But here we are all these weeks later, and Danish singer MØ is now attached to the track — as well as a much-discussed bad performance on national television. It wasn’t a total disaster, but in a nutshell, her live vocals never really synced up with her guide track and her dancing was just kind of average. The aftermath: It’s really too early to assess what kind of impact this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live performance will have on MØ’s career (she has since offered up a letter of “explanation”). On the plus side, her debut album was released stateside in March and never charted, so…the only way is up?

Now it’s time to have your say! Who of the above five artists do you think had the worst SNL performance of all? Let us know below!