BEYONCÉ, MTV Video Music Awards
When Beyoncé released her self-titled LP out of the blue late last year, it effectively ruined every year-end list. (D’Angelo, thanks for continuing that trend!) The visual album instantly became one of the most monumental moments in music this century, right up their with Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want strategy with In Rainbows. It goes as no surprise, then, that MTV enlisted Queen B to close out the 2014 MTV VMAs with a stunning performance featuring the many songs of her recent release, allowing us a chance to relive that magical moment in mid-December 2013.
BLOOD ORANGE, Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Cupid Deluxe was one of last year’s greatest albums, so it was great to see Devonté Hynes appear on late night television this year to perform the track “It Is What It Is”. The performance was aided by memorable choreography, which saw Hynes’ backup dancers carry him back-and-forth across the stage, as well as Samantha Urbani showcasing her incredible vocals as her boyfriend’s duet partner.
FKA TWIGS, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
One of the most surreal musical moments in late night television this year, FKA twigs’s performance of “Two Weeks” found the singer as delicate as ever. The way those flags became suspended in mid-air with the aide of a large industrial fan was a sight to behold, providing a visual representation to one of “Two Weeks” more explicit moments, when she sings of being “higher than a motherfucker.” The absence of the studio’s backing vocals during the climactic finale added a ghostlike, minimalist quality to the track that put twigs, and those flags, directly in the spotlight.
FUTURE ISLANDS, “Season (Waiting On You)” The Late Show with David Letterman
The first truly great late night performance of the year came from Future Islands, who ripped through their huge single “Seasons (Waiting On You)”. From lead singer Sam Herring’s unorthodox dancing (he got his degree from the Thom Yorke School of Interpretive Dance) to his unsuspecting growl, Future Islands demanded a larger audience pay attention to their craft. Thank god they gave us that wake-up call.
SIA, “Chandelier” The Ellen Degeneres Show
“Chandelier” was already responsible for one of the year’s best music videos when Sia, performing in secrecy, performed her hit single on Ellen Degeneres’s daytime talk show with the help of the video’s star, Maddie Ziegler. The performance was a near shot-for-shot remake of the video, a remarkable feat considering the chaotic, frenetic choreography of the video.