Accomplished professionalism is the watchword for Kings of Leon's 2013 album Mechanical Bull, and that carried over to the band's third Saturday Night Live appearance. The Followill bros delivered lockstep longing on falsetto-barbed, solo-emblazoned rocker "Temple" (above) and U2-rippling power balladry on the tender "Wait for Me" (below).
KoL's trouble-tested maturity hasn't kept them from offering up occasional leftfield surprises — a cinematic prison-rodeo video for the album's "Beautiful War," an ironclad cover of (yes!) Robyn's "Dancing on My Own," or album promos involving the likes of the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast. But here, as in their recent gigs across the weekday late-night TV circuit, the performances were expertly straightforward, almost as if consciously avoiding dramatic gestures (to a fault, a sleepy TV viewer might say, but that would be unfairly missing the point). And although it's tough to know if they won over new fans, the in-studio applause was more than polite.
The Tennessee rockers were presumably saving any loud behavior for the SNL cast's "Guy Fieri Christmas Special" sketch, which, of course, called for an impression of the special's co-host "and godfather of my children" Kid Rock ("I brought Bud Lime gazpacho!"). Scroll down for that, and head to the bottom to see host John Goodman struggle to try on H&M's jeans in cast member Jay Pharoah's rap video about the fast-fashion retailer. Elsewhere, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone joined Goodman on fake camels for a sketch about "the three wise guys," and the show's opening scene parodied President Obama's Nelson Mandela memorial interpreter.
Next week's Christmas-themed episode should be one to watch, with host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake.