The 7 Best Musical Performances On ‘SNL’ This Season

It’s easy to bag on Saturday Night Live for their musical guests, but just as the “SNL isn’t as funny as it used to be” argument is played out and incorrect, history often looks kindly at the artists the show books. Take, for instance, last year: yes, there was the Karmin fiasco and One Direction should never have performed on the same stage that Fear once did and Lana Del Rey hadn’t yet thawed out of her accidental ice shell, but otherwise, solid. Radiohead, the Black Keys, Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, Coldplay, Jack White, the Shins, Arcade Fire, Usher, the Rolling Stones — even if you don’t like a lot of those bands (*coughcoldplaycough*), it’s not as if they were unworthy of performing on SNL.

In a year, when we look back at season 38 of SNL, which ended last night, how many miscues will we count? Justin Bieber, definitely, and probably Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and fun.; otherwise, not too shabby. Rarely spectacular, usually good, briefly awful, not unlike SNL itself. Here are seven of the season’s best performances.

Date: September 15, 2012
Musical Guest: Frank Ocean
Host: Seth MacFarlane

You guys remember 2012? Crazy year that was.

Date: December 15, 2012
Musical Guest: Paul McCartney
Host: Martin Short

Or the time that one of the Beatles jammed with the remaining members of Nirvana.

Date: January 26, 2013
Musical Guest: Kendrick Lamar
Host: Adam Levine

Adam Levine was on SNL twice this season, once with Maroon 5 and another as the host. Kendrick Lamar bested him in every conceivable way with a single five minute performance of “Swimming Pools (Drank).”

Date: February 16, 2013
Musical Guest: Alabama Shakes
Host: Christoph Waltz

Or maybe I just really like the way Christoph Waltz says “Alabama Shakes.”

Date: April 13, 2013
Musical Guest: Miguel
Host: Vince Vaughn

Did you get pregnant while Miguel was singing? You probably did, especially the ladies. But ESPECIALLY the guys.

Date: May 11, 2013
Musical Guest: Vampire Weekend
Host: Kristen Wiig

Their first song, “Diane Young,” was swallowed by SNL‘s unforgiving soundstage (also, it’s ridiculous), but Vampire Weekend rebounded beautifully with the bouncy “Unbelievers.”

Date: May 18, 2013
Musical Guest: Kanye West
Host: Ben Affleck

Even if you hate Kanye, you gotta admit: he never half-asses anything. He’s a full ass, through and through.