Live Last Night, On TV - Episode 6

Two-Minute Man was a much easier series. But the Globe isn't even the Globe anymore, so...

1. Beck - "Gamma Ray" (Letterman, Thursday)
This is my favorite Beck song in a few albums. It's a taut garage rocker that also grooves. It just so happens that Jay Reatard covered it and made it sound about 32 times more awesome. Tell me I'm wrong. Beck's fine as guitar playing rock band singer, but that's not his best role.

2. Death Cab For Cutie - "Cath" (Conan, Tuesday)
Ben Gibbard's been hitting the gym, it seems. Now he looks more like Crispin Glover than John Hodgman. Upgrade. This song has an appealing crunchiness to it, but it's still just the second best song by a sort-of insecure indie-emo rocker called "Kath."

3. The Pretenders - "Boots of Chinese Plastic" (Letterman, Monday)
This reminded me a lot of Lucinda Williams's performance on "Dave" last week. A back-to-basics rock song, sung with authority, with lots of dudes handling backup duties. Could do a lot worse, that's for sure.

4. Dead Confederate - "The Rat" (Conan, Friday)
It's nice to see that some frontmen still just want to be Kurt Cobain, right down to the ratty green cardigan. (It also helps you do better in these rankings, just ask Seether.) That's some solid attention to detail. Better sound than song from these guys, but major comedy points for their trucker-hat-wearing, bushy-beard sporting gutiarist taking a spill at the end of the song. And Conan saying, "The beard cushioned the fall."

5. Buddy Guy - "Skin Deep" (Letterman, Wednesday)
Sometimes Letterman sums it all up perfectly. "That's it. That's all we need right there."

6. Rachel Yamagata - "Faster" (Leno, Thursday)
The whole adult-contemporary piano pop thing didn't seem to be working, but it wasn't necessarily not working. So why not keep it around but also add some throwback, '90s alt-rock to the mix let her growl a little instead of acting all vulnerable all the time. Not a bad idea.

(Many more, with James Taylor and Katy Perry bashing, after the jump.)

7. Tegan & Sara - "Call It Off" (Letterman, Tuesday)
It's one of their prettier songs, if not necessarily one of their more interesting ones. They can do more than precious, but you wouldn't necessarily know it from this tune.

8. Panic at the Disco - "Nine in the Afternoon" (Daly, Tuesday)/"Norther Downpour" (Daly, Wednesday)
A pair of pretty decent and very blatant Beatles ripoffs, simple psych-pop that gets the job done without showing anything new. But because it came from a band that previously played mall-emo, they get extra credit, or something.

9. Marc Broussard - "Keep Coming Back" (Leno, Wednesday)
Wow, that is not what I thought Marc Broussard looked like. I don't know what I thought he looked like, I just didn't think he would look like, I don't know, someone who lived on my floor sophomore year. This is one of those "power in numbers" performances where the huge band makes a pretty basic swamp-funk number more interesting than it really is.

10. Young Jeezy - "Crazy World" (Daly, Thursday)
"Y'all better vote for Barack Obama!" Jeezy shouts as he walks onto stage. He's still trying to clarify, apparently. "I represent the streets ... I represent the Democrats." Bet Chuck Schumer loved that line.

11. Jackson Browne - "Off of Wonderland" (Leno, Friday)
Leno had Jackson Browne and James Taylor on during the same week. I used to get them confused a lot when I was a kid, until James Taylor was on an episode of "The Simpsons," so then he was "the one who was on 'The Simpsons.'"

12. Lou Reed - "Caroline Says" (Letterman, Friday)
The most pretentious thing I've seen since ... well, since I saw Lou talk about "Berlin" down in Austin back in March.

13. Sarah McLachlan - "U Want Me 2" (Conan, Thursday)
Nothing to really say about the song that by its title looks like it could be a Prince cover -- it's Sarah McLachlan singing and playing piano, what is there to say? -- but since Conan mentioned the Bridge School Benefit she'll be performing at in a couple weeks, is that not the sleepiest lineup in memory? In addition to Neil Young you've got Wilco, Jack Johnson, Death Cab, Norah Jones and Cat Power on both days, with McLachlan, ZZ Top, Smashing Pumpkins and Josh Groban (?!) one-day only. When ZZ Top takes the cake for most "dangerous" act, there's something going on. Or rather, there isn't.

14. Tom Morello - "Whatever It Takes" (Ferguson, Friday)
It sounds nothing like Rage Against the Machine. It does sound a bit like Three Doors Down, though. So, y'know, slight improvement.

15. Jenny Lewis - "Acid Tongue" (Conan, Monday)
Pants? She's wearing pants? This is a Serious Song, not one of her flirty ones, so I guess it's appropriate. Lewis on acoustic guitar with five backup singers. I think one of them was yawning during the song. I don't blame him.

16. James Taylor - "Suzanne" (Leno, Tuesday)
Bob Lefsetz is pretty much right about this one. Is there any more lazy and predictable ploy than a "classic" performer going the covers album route? Covering Leonard Cohen ... it's just so risky!

17. Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold" (Leno, Monday)
Katy Perry:Art::This Analogy Gimmick:Original

By David Malitz |  October 15, 2008; 6:42 PM ET Live Last Night, On TV
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It was sad watching the Lou Reed performance. He must think it is cool being Lou Reed and acts it. He is wrong. He's not even a shell. Instead he's an apparent above it all poseur. No one makes him get out there so he shouldn't bother.

Posted by: Tim | October 16, 2008 8:56 AM

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