Depending on who you ask, rock music has been around since the 1920s. Coincidentally, that’s the same decade in which television technology made huge strides. It was inevitable that the two were destined to collide. There are iconic performances everyone knows, such as The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Brace yourself for something a little different.
Here are seven ridiculously awesome rock performances.
7 – Weird Al: “Another One Rides The Bus”
I once asked Weird Al why he stopped wearing those pants. “Heavy and HOT,” he said.
This is Weird Al’s first break from obscurity into the mainstream. Pretty much only seen at county fairs up until this point, his national television debut was on the Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. That might not sound impressive today, but all the big celebrities were on his show in the early 1980s.
6 – Pink Steel: “Sausage Party”
It’s not that kind of sausage, Mr. Reporter.
Their song “Sausage Party” seemed to get Pink Steel a spot on WGN’s morning news program based solely on the title. Whoever booked them must have not picked up on the metaphorical nature of the lyrics. The reporter even expresses interest in hearing their song about sausages. Someone finally notices and the commercial break happens before the song ends.
5 – John Lennon: “Instant Karma!”
Instant Yoko’s gonna get you.
When John Lennon wrote this song, he wanted the “instant” theme to apply to the whole process. He wrote it one morning, recorded it that afternoon, and the song was out the next possible release date. Yoko Ono took a different approach when it came time to do a televised performance; she did some crocheting while wearing a blindfold. The serious dark undertone in this catchy tune and Yoko’s performance art collide in this memorable appearance.
4 – They Might Be Giants: “Robot Parade”, “Shoehorn With Teeth”
“John, I think we’re losing the crowd.”
Conveniently located near the Late Night studios, They Might Be Giants were invited for many performances over the New York Conan years. In this performance, they lack the usual backing band which has always led me to suspect they were a last-minute replacement act. Perhaps Van Halen got into an argument on the way to the gig. About halfway through, John Flansburgh leaves the audience in stunned silence.
3 – The Beatles: “I Feel Fine”
It’s not polite to lip sync while chewing food.
In the 60s, most “live” music appearances were lip synced (not always by the band’s choice). Occasionally, The Beatles would exploit this practice and demonstrate how ridiculous it was. This time around, they decided to keep the cameras rolling during a lunch break in what has become known as the “fish and chips” performance.
2 – Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs: “Wooly Bully”
Let’s not be L-7.
The costumes and choreography in this performance of “Wooly Bully” are completely ridiculous. The band tries to play it straight, but the absurdity finally blows Sam’s mind around the 1:58 mark. It almost feels like a lost scene from a Get Smart episode. Didn’t Agent 86 have to solve the case of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs in one episode?
1 – Sparks: “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”
For an added level of ridiculousness, look up the lyrics.
I only recently discovered this band and was blown away by how awesome and insane their songs are at the same time. An apathetic, comatose audience surrounds a curly haired high-pitched singer. Next to him, on keyboard, is his brother sporting an uncomfortably familiar look.
Honorable mention – Craig Ferguson: “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”
Did we miss some of your favorite ridiculously awesome rock performances? Tell us about it in the comments below!