Even for seasoned pros, live performances can be tricky. This is perhaps most true when gracing a stage like Saturday Night Live’s. After all, being a musical guest on the legendary NBC late-night comedy showcase is considered one of the biggest honors in the biz.
Whether nerves got the best of them or they seemingly sabotaged their set on purpose, many of these artists had a tough time bouncing back after their performances went oh-so-wrong in front of everyone. Ladies and gentlemen, here are the most disastrous SNL performances ever.
To this day, Ashlee Simpson still can’t live down her SNL lip-synching incident from 2004. When the track she’d already performed started playing for a second time, the pop star panicked and appeared lost. Then she did “a little hoe down” and fled the stage. For whatever reason, her band kept going and then they cut to commercial.
When it was time to say goodnight, she apologized and initially blamed her band, claiming they’d started playing the wrong song. As for the vocals singing without her, Simpson later blamed that on acid reflux and then laryngitis, “revealing” on her MTV reality show that’s why she was lip-synching. But the damage was already done.
You only get one shot on SNL’s live stage. And Eminem usually gives the audience his all. However, many wondered if his mic was even on during his 2013 performance of “Berzerk.” Maybe he just gave too much too soon?
He starts out strong with explosive energy, but not for long. Did Slim Shady push himself too hard and get winded? Who knows. The only thing we know for sure is that as the performance progresses, he gets quieter and quieter.
The Replacements were actually a last-minute replacement for the Pointer Sisters. Rehearsal went well for this famously booze-loving band. So naturally, they celebrated the big gig with one too many drinks prior to the actual performance. Big mistake.
Ultimately, The Replacements were so incredibly drunk during their set that they barely made it through, slurring, crashing around, and dropping an F-bomb here and there. The whole thing went so poorly they were banned for life.
Kanye West has done a lot of strange things on the SNL stage over the years. But this list is about disastrous fails, not controversial moments. Everyone had exceedingly high hopes for Kanye West’s SNL “Love Lockdown” performance back in 2008. But the audience was let down, even booing at one point.
In true Yeezy fashion, he did some live experimenting. Unfortunately, the forward-thinking risk did not pay off. The voice modulation gadget might work wonders for Ye in the studio, but attempting to do the same trick live while singing for real made Kanye come off as tone-deaf.
FEAR proved that they didn’t just perform punk songs, they lived and breathed punk. Pretty much everyone but the producers knew that, it seems. Historically, this was a rowdy band that did what they wanted, live audience or not.
Long story short, allowing them on the show proved a major liability and they wound up scaring the bejeezus out of everyone there. Looking back, some might say SNL brought the $20,000 worth of damage FEAR did on themselves.
I don’t know what to make of Katy Perry’s performance of “Bon Appetit.” We’ve all grown to expect kooky, quirky, and cotton candy performances from Katy, but this one sorely lacks the quintessential Perry punch. There’s way too much going on, yet somehow, not enough.
The performance was positioned as a comeback moment, but it’s strange without being interesting. While some aspects are seemingly meant to be over the top, it’s overall a big yawn with some lackluster dancing on top. To make matters worse, it’s the kind of song that needs to be Katy-catchy to leave a mark, but it just falls flat.
Let me preface this one by saying… l adore Lana Del Rey. I loved her before she performed for the first time on SNL in 2012 and I love her now. And I think we all really, really wanted her appearance to go well. But sadly, it did not.
Both sets were peculiar and painful to watch, often dubbed “one of worst outings in SNL history,” by critics and fans alike. Her performance of “Blue Jeans” was… disorienting. And it looked and sounded like she might actually be in pain during “Video Games.”
Remember when Garth Brook “became” Chris Gaines and embarked on a cross-over career into rock? While it seems like something impossible to forget, it was shockingly easy to bury in the back of everyone’s minds. Case in point: “Chris’s” SNL performance in 1999. But first, let’s back up a little.
Why did Garth Brooks need a moody, Australian-born alter ego to begin with? Allegedly, a movie was in the works that never came to be. The problem was, nobody knew that. Throughout the performance, the vibe was very “who is Chris Gaines?” and “is that Garth Brooks in a silky black wig?” but the song mostly fell on deaf ears.