Live TV is hard (Or: The Day Pop Culture Passed Me By)

kevin_hart_snl_photo_001This weekend marked a major milestone in my life as a pop culture junkie. I had no clue who the guest host or musical guest were on SNL. This was unprecedented. Once in a while they will have an actor or borderline famous person on that I won’t be super familiar with but I always know who they are or what show/movie/team they are associated with. Quite often, they will have a musical guest on that I would never listen to but I will have at least heard of them. As I sat down to watch this week’s show they announced the host, Kevin Hart. Who the hell is that? Musical guest Macklemore with Ryan Lewis? Who the hell are they? Then I found out another piece of information about myself; I didn’t care! Normally, I would have rushed to the nearest Googler and looked them up, but I truly didn’t care. Had pop culture passed me by? Why didn’t I care who these people were? Who is Kevin Hart? Macklemore?

Ok, fine let’s find out. Give me a minute…

I just checked out the IMDb for Kevin Hart. Now I’m looking this up for the sake of this post. Lest anyone think I actually care who this dude is or what piece of shit TV or movies he’s done…

Kevin Hart has 50 acting credits listed in his IMDb. 90% of which I had never heard of. Here is the only credit in that list I have actually seen.

2005, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Smart Tech Customer

With a resume like that, I totally see why he was picked to host. To be honest the skits weren’t too bad. The Walking Dead one made me laugh.

And then there’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I don’t want to go on too long about these guys because I’ll just come across like a music snob a-hole. I know, music is subjective and we are all entitled to like what we want. But Wow! People actually like this stuff! Two guys pretend to be rapping while eight guys pretend to play brass instruments behind them. My wife and I play The Beatles Rockband game on the PS3 from time to time. Maybe next week SNL will have us on. At least the fake music we play is worth listening to. I’ll be waiting for the call from Lorne Michaels. Take a look below. Since NBC are dicks about people embedding there videos, here is a crappy YouTube clip of someone recording the performance via cellphone camera.

You can check out a better quality video here…http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/macklemore-and-ryan-lewis-thrift-shop/n33498

After that performance last year’s Lana Del Rey debacle isn’t looking so bad.

What were you thinking Lorne? This year had been pretty good so far too. A good mix of young and old hosts. Decent musical guests. They lost some longtime favorite cast members like Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig and brought in a few new people that are really good. That new blonde chick cracks me up almost every episode. Some of the previously lesser known cast like Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam have stepped it up too. I guess they can’t all be home runs. At least we can look forward to Timberlake’s appearance next week. Those usually are home runs.

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Live TV is hard (Or: Boom Goes the Lana Hype)

Lana Del Rey's SNL still frame

Hey, Packers. Isn't live TV hard? Love, Lana

I ate fried chicken this weekend with my fellow MoSS? CEO before playing some cards and catching the new episode of Saturday Night Live. The poultry was not procured from Flav’s Chicken Shack. But I’m going to paraphrase Flavor Flav (and Perez Hilton, as it turns out) all the same: the weekend of Jan. 14-15 was one where the hype could not be believed, thanks to the wonders of live television.

Lana Del Rey—the girl whose first album came out two years ago under her real name, Lizzie Grant, with the title of Lana Del Rey, an album that was quickly pulled from iTunes—hyperventilated her way through her Internet hit tune, “Video Games,” on Saturday Night Live on the 14th. (It was a bad omen when Daniel Radcliffe flubbed the simple introduction.) She got behind on the first verse, threw in some nonsense ad-libs, and forced Todd to look for the silver lining in the performance for the next hour or so while I sat there in a world of disapppointment and our wives railed against the performance/discussed a comparison to Bette Midler (Todd’s and mine, respectively).

It was the tipping point in the delicate style-over-substance tightrope walk she’d been walking for months. I’ve been skeptical ever since seeing how Pitchfork chose to present photo coverage from a live event. And even more so after seeing the video for her forthcoming album’s title track, “Born to Die,” which features Lana “hunkering down” with some dude who could easily have “American Apparel model” on his résumé before he apparently kills her and sets his own car on fire (or something like that). The first time I heard “Video Games,” I found myself quite impressed; now I’m asking, “Can anyone possibly take her seriously for much longer?”

She did recently sign a modeling contract, which makes me think that this singing thing is like Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball for a bit. It was worth a shot and a lot of people paid attention to it. Eventually Jordan went back to doing what he did well (directing a ball through a circle); soon she’ll be doing what she does with ease (looking good).

I suppose that’s one big reason her career hyperdrive was engaged, because, damn, she’s easy on the eyes. But she’s apparently very conscious of every last eye that falls on her, because she looked extremely uncomfortable up there. And my hyperventilation comment is not some bit of hyperbole; it truly looked like she was gassed by the second verse of “Video Games.” But before anyone should feel sorry for Lizzie, it would seem her looks are a big part of what Lana and her team use to gain attention. Meanwhile, fellow Internet sensation Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. The Weeknd) released three mixtapes in a calendar year, all to at least modest acclaim (the first to very favorable reviews), but for the longest time people didn’t even know the dude’s identity, much less what he looked like. People were left with nothing but the music: nearly 30 songs full of smart sampling, inspired vocals, and lyrics that painted the clearest picture of a hazy party world.

I’ll probably give Born to Die a listen once it hits Spotify, but with 1/100th of the enthusiasm I had last summer. Somewhere I believe the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (remember those guys, blogosphere?) is nodding solemnly about the situation Ms. Grant/Del Rey finds herself.

Lana wasn’t alone in her live TV misery this weekend, and unless she went out and role-played that “Born to Die” video after SNL, she probably is the least sore of this group of fallen stars:

Tim Tebow. He completed three passes in the first half of the Broncos game against the Patriots. Counterpart (devil!) Tom Brady completed five passes for touchdowns in the same amount of time. The Patriots outrushed the Broncos, thanks in part to New England TIGHT END Aaron Hernandez rushing for 61 yards, and tacked on nearly 400 yards of passing. The other New England tight end (the one who takes photos with porn stars) caught three touchdowns from Tom Terrific. Tebow ran for a paltry 13 yards and was limited to 136 yards passing. Everyone who made such a big fucking deal about Tebow throwing for 316 yards last week (as in John 3:16!!!!) should note that the Evil Lord Belichick simply rearranged those numbers, causing Tebow to have a below-average game of 136 yards. (And if my Bible study recollection is accurate, the Book of Belichick, Chapter 1, Verse 36 reads “Whilst one’s abstinence can be commended, my quarterback fucks the lady Gisele, and still the gods allow him to accurately throw an eight-yard hook and complete a 12-yard out route at will.”) In this battle of good versus evil, the hoodied reaper reopened a book of revelations about Tebow: he actually really pretty much sucks. Not as a person, but as a quarterback in the National Football League.

The New Orleans Saints. It’s so cute how they let that little boy stand in the middle of the Saints huddle, with real shoulder pads and jersey on, and lead the pregame chants! Look at him bouncing around with the players, so full of energy, so spunky, so…oh, wait, that’s Drew Brees. The NFL’s new passing yardage champ’s enthusiasm couldn’t conquer the road playoff curse of the Saints, even though the 49ers defense did its best to give the game away down the stretch. Yet the Saints allowed the game-winning TD with 9 seconds to go, giving San Fran another “The Catch” moment (I guess) and the Brothers Harbaugh hope for a Super Bowl showdown on Feb. 5. The NFC Harbaugh might hold up his end of the bargain, as the Niners will host the NFC title game, all thanks to…

The Fucking Green Fucking Bay Fucking Packers. My favorite team won 15 games this year, against only two losses. How great for those players! Except that one of those losses came in the single-elimination fun known as the PLAYOFFS! (And the other was against the Chiefs, which is almost as bad, really.) Dropped passes (nothing new, really) were coupled with a string of fumbles (even cult hero John Kuhn had his first career fumble) and the failure to defend a halftime Hail Mary touchdown pass. And the inability to tackle. Or cover receivers on third and long. Or convert fourth down. Or resist the urge to try an onside kick after tying the game at 10. Or whatever the fuck else. Aaron Rodgers was off the mark too, although his running kept the Pack alive for much of the game.

I’m convinced this is State Farm’s fault. Fucking commercials (which I found funny until Sunday evening).

Watching Green Bay suck it up against the Giants pretty much looked like this:

This guy got a Tosh.0 Web Redemption out of his shame. Maybe we’ll see Lana Del Rey on there soon.