St. Vincent Confuses the Masses on Saturday Night Live
By Hilary Hughes
Unpacking this one is going to take a minute, so buckle up, because St. Vincent's Saturday Night Live season finale was one for the ages -- and it's not necessarily for the reasons you'd think.
Back when it was announced that Our Lady of the Shred and Silver (and Village Voice cover girl) Annie Clark would be wrapping up SNL's 39th season with Andy Samberg, we rolled our eyes, if only because we knew that the viewing public would be very, very confused about what they were watching. St. Vincent, enthusiastically adored by plenty, is not the stuff of Top 40 dreams; she is not the straightforward rock, hip-hop or pop artist with a record to hype or a movie coming out that's normally booked for the SNL stage for the sake of release week promotion, like The Black Keys or Kanye. For a season that began with Arcade Fire in the full swing of Reflektor, St. Vincent was a solid, experimental bookend, and thankfully, her performance on the show mirrored the sharp angles, serious guitar work and clear, collected delivery of her live show.
If anything, St. Vincent is the act who was the truest to herself all season, in that what you see is very much what you get no matter how big or small the stage she's performing on. Viewers who saw her on SNL for the first time can rest assured that St. Vincent live and in the flesh sounds very much like the woman they were introduced to on their television, unlike the Imagine Dragonses and R. Kelly/Muppet-clad Lady Gagas. Whether or not her style of avant-rock is for everyone isn't really the point; the point is that the strength of the performer shows when it's as infallible as that of an artist like St. Vincent, and she's not one who can bank on "But it's late night TV, the sound is always awful!" as an excuse because she was great. "Birth in Reverse" was especially true to the St. Vincent live experience, teeny tiny footsteps and all.
THAT SAID: she is not universally appealing, and this was reflected in the totally confused and mean-spirited reaction she inspired while the episode was airing and immediately after it. (She was even trending on Twitter at one point, an impressive feat considering Jay and Bey dropped a fake film trailer in the middle of the night. Andy Samberg definitely was not.) Here's hoping the season finale of SNL opened the eyes of its viewers and brought them an artist they never would've encountered otherwise. It was a gamble of a booking, but there's a solid chance that the chatter and the newfound support could pay off big for both the artist and the show, and hey -- if booking someone like St. Vincent started a huge conversation on the last day of a pretty mercurial season that saw some major casting shakeups, it could bode well for independent artists and the smaller guys on the charts who'd always dreamed of performing Live From New York on Saturday Night.
Anyways, here's a bunch of weirdos on Twitter who had no idea how to come to grips with the fact that a woman could play guitar and exist without Devo/David Byrne/'80s new wave, etc. You've been warned.
On the next page, the varied Twitter reaction: