The melody might stick in your head the rest of the day. The wide-screen emotional ache might linger a while, too. The performance — successfully relaunched leftfield-pop singer Sky Ferreira, a song that’s one of SPIN’s 40 best of 2012, and a little help from house band the Roots — well, did we mention there’s also a smoke machine and plenty of brooding, heavy-lidded gazes?
Like Solange’s thrilling take on her own “Losing You” last month on the same show, Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing” last night on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon brought the right mood to a song that bears songwriter-producer Dev Hynes’ fingerprints and carries atmospheric echoes of early-’80s pop. Where for Beyoncé’s younger sister the past was retro, fodder for a kickass loft party, for Ferreira it’s a ghost. And her live rendition still has the trap-meets-the-Knife goblin backing vocals of the version on her, oh yeah, Ghost EP.
Rather than flaunt a whole lot in the way of chipper dance moves, Ferreira delivered her also-Robyn-like longing with utmost intensity, her black shirt and downcast demeanor suggesting she’d fallen in love at a graveyard. The vocals were just unkempt enough here or there to be human; the song is the best kind of haunting. It wasn’t Ferreira’s first time on TV globally — thank the BBC for that — but for those new to the one-time teenage next big thing, it ought to have been a memorable introduction. Not everything’s embarrassing.