SNL Sound-Off: Phoenix
Here is a brief list of the things I found more engaging in this week's episode of Saturday Night Live than Phoenix's performance:
- Dennis Rodman's 12-second cameo in the cold open, in which he stumbled over saying "Saturday Night Live"
- Melissa McCarthy driving a golf cart
- Melissa McCarthy wearing high heels
- "IT'S PIZZA IT'S WRITTEN LET'S GO"
- Melissa McCarthy, in general
It may be unfair to compare Phoenix's perfectly acceptable and OK just fine set with the accolade-reaping one Justin Timberlake delivered last month, but this is a band that had people lining up Friday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, so you'd expect a little joy. Or sweat. Or something as endearing as their performance of "Lisztomania" on the show prior. For the second time this season--the first being Jennifer Lawrence's excellent show and The Lumineers' set, which demonstrated why everybody loves to hate them--the SNL host eclipsed the musical guest, which is a bummer for any music fan who tunes in for those precious 7-8 minutes every episode.
"Entertainment" was first up. Phoenix started strong, and that drummer currently touring with them should get a raise because his line proved to be the most driving, addictive part of the song. Enticing rhythm aside, "Entertainment" feels like it belongs on a loop in a Las Vegas hotel lobby--all sugar, little substance, a song that should in theory get you moving while the people playing it plow through it without so much as rolling up their sleeves. (Except for the drummer. Great job, guy.)
If "Entertainment" works in that hotel lobby (for our purposes, let's pretend we're talking about The Cosmopolitan), "Trying To Be Cool/Drakkar Noir" is what's piping in through the elevator speakers. I want Thomas Mars to groove and dance and contort his facial muscles or something, because this all seems entirely too easy for him. Maybe it speaks to the band's casual cool and their ability to create and deliver a barrage of effortlessly likeable pop songs, but that no-big-deal approach felt lackluster in the face of a song that's exactly that: no big deal.
(Also, can we talk about how someone pushed Melissa McCarthy out of the frame on that intro? Because lol. Unless they were steering her clear of the camera's path; in that case, well done, whoever just saved Melissa McCarthy from getting run over by a camera!)
The Twitter portion of our SNL Sound-Off this week was a bit of a headache to sift through, as Robert Pattinson decided to make my job more difficult by going out with Joaquin Phoenix last night and the "Phoenix" Twitter search is now a big brooding, glittery, vampirey mess as a result. Still, plenty of people were talking about Phoenix, and the majority agreed to disagree with me by voicing their praises for Phoenix's new material.