This past Saturday night was one of the most invigorating evenings of my life. No, really, it was. I witnessed history as a captive part of a studio audience, watching the charmingly vulgar Golden Girls' Rose Nyland host the iconic 35-year-old TV institution Saturday Night Live. The show also featured musical guest Jay-Z. The combination of cultural classics was enough to stimulate every synapse in my body as I both cracked up and cried at every knee slapper. Unfortunately, for the man next to me, it was his knee I ended up slapping. Betty wowed us with her winning wit, ageless spirit, impeccable comedic timing, and timeless beauty. She also wowed us with her ability to talk dirty via muffin metaphor and to create one bad-ass, successfully scary death-metal version of “Thank You For Being a Friend” — I think that’s when I actually full-on decked the poor guy next to me, as I was laughing (a.k.a. mildly head-banging) so hard.
JAY-Z affectionately dedicated his “Forever Young” performance, featuring Mr. Hudson, to the one-and-only Betty White, a victorious nod to octogenarians (and Alphaville fans — see below) everywhere. Everyone was a winner that night including yours truly, who ended up getting the golden ticket to meet the evening’s golden girl. Betty was every bit as graceful and gracious in person, and I have this priceless picture above to prove it.
“Sound Advice” Trivia Moment: Alphaville is an '80s German synth-pop group whose 1984 song “Forever Young” is the song that Mr. Hudson covers in JAY-Z’s Blueprint 3 version. Consider yourself Allison Hagendorf Music Maxim-ized.
In honor of my saturday night with the “Forever Young” Golden Girl, and her ability to snag the strongest show ratings in 18 months, my Sound Advice is to check out these golden moments in SNL musical guest history. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
1. October 18, 1975—Simon & Garfunkel
On the second episode of SNL, host Paul Simon is joined by former musical frienemy, Art Garfunkel, to perform "The Boxer." Lack of eye contact and awkward body language on stage reveals that there is indeed some beef behind these folk fighters.
Listen to the performance here.
2. April 17, 1976 - Patti Smith Group
Performing on the night before Easter, Patti gives many SNL viewers their first taste of punk spirit and sound as she opens "Gloria" with the impromptu line "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." That's my kind of chick. (Yes, Easter pun intended.)
Watch the performance here.
3. December 17, 1977 - Elvis Costello
Scheduled to play "Less Than Zero", Costello stops mid-song to play the controversial, anti-media "Radio, Radio". He is banned from SNL, but the ban is lifted in 1989 when he returns to perform again. His aim was true. (Cue: "Aaaa-llison....")
Watch the performance here.
4. February 14, 1981—The Funky Four Plus One More
They were the first rap group to perform on SNL, a title erroneously given to Run DMC. They were also notable for having a female MC. Notable indeed.
Watch the funky fresh performance here.
5. October 31, 1981—Fear
A fan of Fear, John Belushi got this ballsy band booked on the show. The band failed to tell anyone they were busing in their own "dancers" which included Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat & Fugazi, and members of the Cro-Mags. Belushi also jumped in on the frenetic festivities which resulted in set and equipment damage. SNL panicked and yanked the performance off the air and replaced it with a short. Fear successfully instilled fear that year.
See the madness here.
6. October 18, 1986—Run DMC
As the second hip-hop/rap group to perform on SNL, they helped pave the (Walk This) Way for other hip-hop acts on TV as they were the first to air on MTV.
7. January 11, 1992—Nirvana
Nirvana was the first band ever to get the honor of playing SNL twice. "Nevermind" had just struck number one on the Billboard sales chart, knocking the King of Pop off the top spot. They nailed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Territorial Pissings" and then performed "Heart Shaped Box" and "Rape Me" later in 1993. Incredible.
Watch "Rape Me" here.
8. April 22, 1992—Pearl Jam
They performed "Alive" and let me tell you, Eddie made me feel alive all over — did I say that out loud? Oh well.
See Pearl Jam's rehearsal of "Alive" here.
9. October 3, 1992—Sinéad O'Connor
Nothing compares to Sinead's pugnacious political stunt on SNL when she yelled "Fight the real enemy!" while shredding a picture of the pope. Regardless, she looks amazing bald, which is a feat in itself.
10. October 2, 1993—Cypress Hill
DJ Muggs lights up a joint on-air and the band trashes their instruments after playing "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That." Well, apparently, they did go out like that because SNL threw them out and they were banned from returning.
11. April 13, 1996—Rage Against The Machine
The band was asked to leave after only playing one song. Despite SNL asking them not to, they draped upside-down American flags from their amps to provide a juxtaposition to the SNL host that night, Republican Presidential candidate Steve Forbes. The band was banned and said a big "Beep" to SNL.
12. October 14, 2000—Radiohead
With the recent release of their album Kid A, viewers knew they were in for a more experimental, ambient showing from Radiohead. But they may not have been expecting this over-the-top trippy performance, complete with a full brass section. Some felt it bizarre, some loved it. Regardless, it was a golden moment stuck in many a (Radio)head.
13. October 23, 2004—Ashlee Simpson
Lip syncing, doing the "jig", blaming innocent and talented band musicians, and indigestion. That disturbing combination made it worthy of being in this list. Moving on...
14. November 20, 2004—U2
U2 was one of the few bands to actually play 3 songs on the show and brought down the SNL house by playing the U2 classic "I Will Follow." The cameras revealed a star-struck SNL cast watching in awe as music fans as opposed to comedic actors. It was a "beautiful day"...(U2 didn't play that song that night, but whatever).
15. November 15, 2008—Beyonce
Black Leotard + Justin Timberlake "Single Ladies" sketch + Beyonce = SNL Golden Moment
16. October 3, 2009—Lady Gaga
She managed to say "shit" without getting bleeped, got into a cat-fight with Madonna, and plays a stegosaurus-inspired keytar. Nice.
17. May 8, 2010 - Jay-Z
The King of Rap is tough enough to look hot in a vest, yet sensitive enough to bow to the one and only Betty White. See, even The Black Album baron woos White.
Tune in to see me host Fuse Top 20 Countdown this Friday at 5 PM on Fuse and learn what's going on in music this week. In the meantime, here's a photo on the set of me and Outkast's Big Boi from last week. So fresh and so clean...
Allison Hagendorf is a media personality, music consultant, and branded-content producer. She is the newest host on Fuse, where you can catch her each week interviewing today’s most buzz-worthy celebrities and artists and chatting about mega-hits from today’s biggest music stars. You can find Allison on Twitter and join her Facebook fan page.