Music News

New Late Night TV Battles a Boon For Music Lovers

First, let me just get it out there: I watch a bunch of TV. I love it, and though I know it deadens my intellectual abilities, I'm not quitting. So, take it from a junkie, late night TV -- with the recent addition of Conan O'Brien to the Tonight Show -- has been kicking a ton of ass lately. His taking over for Leno has prompted time slot-sharer David Letterman to up his game all while Late Night incumbent Jimmy Fallon has gone slowly from awkwardly laughing at his own jokes to stumbling into some pretty hilarious bits (see: Saved By The Bell reunion). Musically, the shows have been booking some pretty solid acts as of late, and next week's selection is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

This was all brought to my attention by noticing The Late Show with David Letterman's lineup next week. His acts include The Brighton Port Authority (aka Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim) with Iggy Pop, MSTRKRFT with John Legend (!), St. Vincent and Regina Spektor. For all intents and purposes, that is an incredibly solid week of music, even if Thursday's show has no music guest (thanks, Megan Fox).

But the fun doesn't stop there, no sir. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien also has a very solid week of music including Pete Yorn, Elvis Costello, Wilco (who were just in Tucson, so I hear) and Adele. It's now Conan's fourth week since taking over the Tonight Show on June 1, and I am glad to see him booking some smart acts that have both mainstream appeal and a sliver of indie credibility -- I don't think I will be seeing Conan booking The Virgins, Yeasayer or Santigold anytime soon, but with his new time slot comes new responsibilities, and I accept as much.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon also has a great week of music including Sonic Youth, The Brighton Port Authority (BPA) again with Iggy Pop, The Roots (how on earth did he book them?), Dinosaur Jr. and Grizzly Bear (who I also hear were just in Tucson). It's about time The Roots played as music guest all on their own -- I fully realize they are Fallon's house band, but they deserve a shot to be the music guest at least a few times a month. As well, I hope Grizzly Bear plays "Two Weeks" off their latest album, Veckatimest, because that song is insanely enjoyable -- I tried to pan Grizzly Bear as a total hipster/super duper indie band, but then I let down my rough exterior and finally listened to their damn album and I was impressed.

So next week's late night lineup is well above any I can remember from recent memory, and we, as viewers, all benefit from this competition. I am going to do my best to try and watch all of these appearances and see which ones were the best, hoping to throw out personal biases (MSTRKRFT, St. Vincent, Grizzly Bear) in the quest to determine who did the best.

For lineups of both guests and music, check out each show's respective websites:

Bonus Fact: Regina Spektor (Far), Pete Yorn (Back and Forth) and Dinosaur Jr. (Farm) all have new albums due out this week.

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Michael Lopez