Live Last Night, On TV - Episode 5

Well, at least there was Nick Cave.

1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!" (Conan, Friday)
There should have been a disclaimer before this performance: "These are professionals. Do not attempt this at home." This was just a small taste; Sunday night was a bigger helping and Monday will be dessert. But when it comes to live and rock-and-roll these days, there's Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and then there's everybody else.

2. Lucinda Williams - "Real Love" (Letterman, Thursday)
This song will probably make no impact at all on the country charts. Why is that again? It's twangy, it's about love and the guys in the band are wearing cowboy shirts. I suppose the fact that I like it doesn't bode well for its Nashville chances.

3. Randy Newman - "Laugh and Be Happy" (Ferguson, Friday)
Randy Newman reminds me of "Schoolhouse Rocks," except for people with life insurance policies. Listen to a song every day and you'll probably be a little happier and a little smarter.

4. Michael Franti & Spearhead - "Say Hey" (Ferguson, Thursday)
For someone who has pigeonholed himself as an overly serious political dude, this piece of jaunty island-pop is welcome.

5. Pete Seeger - "Take it From Dr. King" (Letterman, Monday)
How can you not get behind a sing-along hoe-down led by an 89-year-old legend who preaches peace and manages to get an Ed Sullivan Theatre crowd of tourists to clap along?

(Eighteen more after the jump.)

6. Jazmine Sullivan - "Need You Bad" (Leno, Tuesday)
This song makes me wonder why don't more R&B upstarts sprinkle just a little bit of reggae into their songs. It works!

7. Jennifer Hudson - "Spotlight" (Kimmel, Thursday)
When the Hold Steady played the late night circuit, they played a different song on each show. Hudson played "Spotlight" on both Leno and Kimmel. So there's one difference between Jennifer Hudson and the Hold Steady.

8. Nikka Costa - "Can't Please Everybody" (Leno, Wednesday)
Here's a Freedom favorite. I think. A few months ago we were talking about why it is that just about every classic soul revivalist is met with positive feedback from critics but general indifference from audiences. I think it's just because that type of sound has just disappeared so completely from the mainstream and that it just has a natural, aesthetic appeal -- groove, lots of horns -- that whenever it pops up now, it happens to be a breath of fresh air, even if it's derivative or not that well done.

9. Cut Copy - "Lights & Music" (Daly, Thursday)
Yeah, I can see how people who like to have that thing - fun! - would like this. They were just in D.C., so maybe somebody out there saw them and can tell me if I'm right but -- I bet this is the kind of band that would have a very talkative audience. And why not? As long as everything's thumping nicely, it's not like you'll miss much if you don't hear "lights and music are on my mind/Be my baby one more time."

10. T.I. - "Whatever You Like" (Leno, Friday)
I look forward to Big Tigger spinning this one plenty of times during the upcoming 38-44 Wizards season.

11. Ben Folds w/ Regina Spektor - "You Don't Know Me "(Conan, Thursday)
If you happened to be watching this and could take your eyes away from Spektor's Obama waistband and kept noticing a completely amateur trombonist spitting all over himself, that was SNL'er Jason Sudeikis. Stereogum was on top of that one.

12. Darius Rucker - "Learn to Live" (Letterman, Wednesday)
So Hootie's foray into country basically consists of ripping off the Coug, getting a fiddle player to fiddle for a few seconds during the chorus and trading in a guitarist who would sometimes wear corduroys for a guitarist who always wears Wranglers. Ah, the music biz. It's important not to outthink yourself.

13. The Watson Twins - "How I Am to Be" (Conan, Monday)
I probably shouldn't have waited until after getting back from the Nick Cave show to make my way through most of this week's performances. Because after a powerhouse performance like that, one that makes you believe in the primal power of rock-and-roll, it's hard to care at all about perfectly pleasant folk-pop like this. It just seems to inconsequential.

14. The Killers - "Human" (Saturday Night Live)
Well, at least they looked marvelous. Actually, no. They looked as ridiculous as they always do. Moreso, even! I'm pretty sure that Sarah Palin shot whatever it was that was on Brandon Flowers' shoulders.

15. Alice Cooper - "Vengeance Is Mine" (Ferguson, Monday)
After all these years, Alice Cooper is still in a league of his own when it comes to rocking a baton. As for more general rocking, well, he's in like the equivalent of the Frontier League. Maybe it would have been better had CBS let the fake-murder go through as planned.

16. Lang Lang (Leno, Monday)
I'll defer to the Anne Midgette, who in a March review said the following of Lang Lang: "Lang Lang, after the stunning promise of his 2001 Carnegie Hall debut, has become one of the most maddening pianists on Earth. He can make any musical passage crass, coarse and bombastic. He can also create moments of breathtaking beauty. And a listener never knows which is coming next. Just as you are ready to write him off for some egregious piece of showboating, he turns around and does something so lovely that you are willing to forgive him all trespasses. It certainly keeps you listening, even if much of the time you want to grab him and shake him in frustration." So maybe he's like the Ryan Adams of classical? With varying amount of hair product?

17. Amy MacDonald - "Mr. Rock and Roll" (Ferguson, Monday)
It looks like the long, painful wait to find the new KT Tunstall has finally ended. Breathe easy, folks.

18. Jack's Mannequin - "The Resolution" (Leno, Thursday)
It looks like the long, painful wait to find the new the Fray has finally ended. Breathe easy, folks.

19. Department of Eagles - "No One Does It Like You" (Conan, Wednesday)
Remember when I said I didn't really dig Grizzly Bear because they had no bite? So you can pretty much guess how I feel about this Grizzly Bear side project. This is music to be played in elevators on the way up to see the vice president of McSweeney's.

20. Rick Springfield - "What's Victoria's Secret" (Kimmel, Tuesday)
This is the guy they got for the Super Bowl halftime show??? Also, I absolutely, completely call shenanigans on the pair of ladies standing the front row singing along to this song off his new album. No. No way. And sorry, Rick, I don't think this song is going to get you a date with Adriana Lima. She's already engaged to Marko Jaric, best known for being overdrafted by me in fantasy basketball leagues in 2003-2005.

21. The Virgins - "Rich Girl" (Letterman, Tuesday)
If you have a brother/sister/son/daughter/cousin, any impressionable teenager in your life, who is starting to get into rock music, please do your best to steer them away from this American Apparel ad that's trying to pass for a rock band. Just because it gets played on "Gossip Girl" doesn't mean it's good.

22. Gavin Rossdale - "Love Remains the Same" (Kimmel, Wednesday)
No. No no no no no no. I don't get paid extra for this. I suffered through this once before. I'm not doing it again. I'm afraid my TV and DVR will revolt against me if I actually play it.

23. Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - "Thou Shalt Always Kill" (Daly, Tuesday)
Yeah, I think I'm going to eliminate Carson Daly's show from this exercise. It's for the best.

By David Malitz |  October 6, 2008; 12:13 PM ET Live Last Night, On TV
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Please explain to me: Nick Cave. I must be missing something - I don't understand the intense, die-hard following among indie music fans. A top-five album list would be a good start (Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, solo, whatever he performs on). Thanks.

Posted by: SSMD | October 6, 2008 4:53 PM

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