The 25 Most Disastrous ‘Saturday Night Live’ Music Performances Ever
Live from New York, it's... a series of unmitigated disasters!
Since the premiere of Saturday Night Live nearly 45 (!!!) years ago, the show — a weekly collection of comedy sketches — has welcomed some truly fantastic musical performers. David Bowie, Prince, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga and Nirvana have all lit up the stage across the show's five-decade span, and stars like Billie Eilish and Harry Styles have so far made Season 45 in 2019 a memorable one, keeping the legacy of strong acts alive.
But, for every high, there has been a low so deep, even Baby Jessica would struggle to emerge.
Yes, sadly, across 45 SNL seasons, there have been some truly unforgettable wrecks that have torn down Studio 8H in the bad way. And if you thought Ashlee Simpson was the only pop star who made audiences cringe (who could ever forget that lip-sync or jig?), you're sadly mistaken.
Check out a collection of SNL's 25 most disastrous performances ever below.
Let's just say it — we couldn't have made the list without Ashlee's case of blatant lip-synching. Fifteen years later, she's still struggling to live it down.
The group's known for bombast, but their 2012 rendition of "Comeback Kid" was just hard on the ears.
Black Eyed Peas
Sure, their songs are catchy and fun, but the energy took things in a different direction in 2004, when their performance just went completely sideways, instead. It was just too much... which is why you probably won't find video evidence of the moment anywhere.
Garth Brook's moody, despondent alter-ego failed to impress (and that's putting it very delicately) during this 1999 episode.
The YouTube darling gave it her best shot during her 2012 "Brokenhearted" performance — sadly, she broke some ears, too, in the process, ensuring that the video of the performance was scrubbed from our collective conscience. (Seriously, you can't find a video of this performance anywhere!)
In 2010, "Tik Tok" was an undeniable hit, but Kesha's SNL rendition was all over the place, and many viewers genuinely thought she was drunk because of her noncommittal movements around the stage.
Kanye's not afraid to experiment on the Saturday Night Live stage, but it didn't pay off in 2008, when "Love Lockdown" just failed. Ye's attempts to sing mixed with voice modulations amounted to a disaster.
Lana Del Rey
Like Ashlee before her, Lana will likely never escape the infamous legacy of her "Video Games" performance, which was bizarre, flat and lifeless.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The legendary rock group have delivered some stellar performances — even at other points on the SNL stage — but their 1992 set was too manic and frantic to succeed.
One of the most successful rappers of his generation, Eminem failed to deliver in 2013 when he performed "Berzerk," and some viewers wondered if his mic was even on.
This 1986 set is so bad, it's almost the stuff of legend — you'll just have to watch for yourself.
If chaos had a visual identity, it would have been this 1981 set from SNL's Halloween episode. 30 Rock may simply not have been ready for a true punk set, which included swearing and even a mosh pit.
There's no denying Sivan's got a huge fanbase, but those who saw him for the first time in 2018 on SNL had two questions: What is he doing, and why is he so wet?
Perry's 2017 performance of "Swish Swish" instantly became the stuff of pop canon (thanks, Backpack Kid!), but her “Bon Appétit” set was somehow — at once — boring and bizarre.
He's one of contemporary music's most revered male voices, but his 2015 SNL performances were shakier than an earthquake, and many viewers suspected his nerves took over.
With one of the favorite voices of her generation, Faithfull rarely disappointed fans, but her vocal chords totally froze up during her 1980 SNL set, and she never truly recovered.
It's hard to watch a Spice Girls set and not smile, but the group's shaky 1997 performance managed to leave viewers grinless.
It's not that Minaj's 2018 set was terrible, but there's no getting around the evident reality that she completely phoned it in.
The 1982 performance included stopping the song, holding up a boombox and then mistakenly cutting to silence. It was...not good.
"Lights," sadly, was not a shining performance for Goulding in 2011 when she, like Bridges, just seemed overwhelmed with nerves.
Ben Folds Five
Ben Fold Fives have a special place in the hearts of '90s nostalgia fanatics, but their 1998 set was such a mess, it's been cut from most reruns.
The group's 2018 set was so off-pitch and off-balance, many viewers wondered if they'd pissed off the show's sound department (they hadn't).
The group has given pop music a truly unique sound, but it did not translate during their 2016 SNL set, which left dumbfounded and incredulous faces painted across many audience members.
Iggy's 2014 set seemed like a dress rehearsal — she had no idea where she was going, no sense of timing and no real connection to the choreography it seemed she should have been performing. A bizarre performance from featured vocalist MØ didn't help matters.
One of the greatest bands of all time simply didn't live up to their usual standard in 1982, during which Freddie Mercury sounded like he'd been in a screaming match.