A motley assortment of musical guests hit the late-night shows last night. Perky Los Angeles popsters Grouplove shone on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, former American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert brought a new single and a new look to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards visited Late Show With David Letterman. Midnight becomes eclectic!
The giveaway on Grouplove is the extra “u” in the title of “Colours,” the breakout hit from these former SPIN “Breaking Out” subjects. Frontman Christian Zucconi and the crew bring a bit of the Pixies’ warped sensibility and Modest Mouse’s yelped vocals, but their sound is rooted just as much in the xylophone- or glockenspiel-assisted (the difference is subtle!) exuberance of the first album from U.K. indie-popsters Los Campesinos!. With shaggy hair but TV-ready polish, Grouplove performed “Colours” and fellow Never Trust a Happy Song cut “Tongue Tied,” turning the Kimmel stage into a peppy dance party for people who don’t dance good. (Kimmel also interviewed Ne-Yo.)
Former Idol lightning rod Lambert returned to Leno with a new, choppier haircut, less makeup than usual, and a new single co-written by Dr. Luke, “Better Than I Know Myself.” The track came out digitally on December 20, but according to the Hollywood Reporter it’s the live debut of the song, from upcoming album Trespassing (due March 20). Unfortunately, General Electric’s NBC legal team is hard at work yanking any video of the performance that doesn’t force you to watch the entire episode (why not just post the clip yourselves, suits? If Kimmel can do it…), but suffice it to say Lambert hit the high notes on the blown-out mid-tempo anthem.
Edwards, meanwhile, is no stranger to late-night TV, having made her Letterman debut way back in 2003. For latest album Voyageur, she worked with Bon Iver bro Justin Vernon, although her performance last night of record highlight “Change the Sheets” sounds refreshingly unaffected by that higher-profile project’s somnolent stretches for tastemaker approval, instead striking straight toward the gut with its moody folk-pop gleam. “Change the sheets, and then change me,” Edwards sings, but luckily her songwriting prowess hasn’t changed a bit.