Last November, Lady Gaga and R. Kelly performed her ARTPOP hit “Do What U Want” at the American Music Awards, in an irreverent production nodding at once to Marilyn Monroe, Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton, and President John F. Kennedy — the last of whom had been assassinated 50 years ago that same week. Gaga and Kelly previously performed the song together, suggestively, on Saturday Night Live. After R. Kelly’s alleged, horrifying sex crimes reentered the public consciousness after the release of his retrograde-not-retro throwback Black Panties, Gaga released a version of her single with Christina Aguilera instead of Kelly. However much you enjoyed Kelly’s music, it was a tough time to associate with him.
The Mother Monster and the Pied Piper of R&B crossed paths again last night, in a way, thanks to the second episode of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Gaga, who kicks off her ARTPOP Ball tour in May after a brief March-April residency bidding farewell to New York’s Roseland Ballroom, gave a dramatic performance of her album’s music-not-the-bling title track, mainly seated at a piano (watch an unofficial video below). Meanwhile, Fallon brought back his Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet — who on the old Late Night covered Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” — and sang Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix),” the Be Sharps way (above). It was joyful, ridiculous, and kinda sublime, and if anyone could remind us it’s okay to like a song we like, it’s the ever-affable host, who’s really going for it so far this week.
In other music on Tonight last night, Fallon interviewed One Direction’s Harry Styles — actually fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig — and it was fantastically bizarre. For starters, Wiig didn’t even bother to fake a British accent. And just wait until you find out Styles/Wiig’s favorite food. Scroll down to see her send Fallon into one of his signature giggling fits. The Roots’ ?uestlove cracked up, too. Oh, and she dueted with Fallon on “her” song, “What Makes You Beautiful,” backed of course by ?uestlove and the band.
On Monday, Fallon’s first night as Tonight host brought two performances from U2. The ratings were big, leading late night with a 7.1 score on the Nielsen scale, or roughly 9 to 10 million people, according to Variety. That’s not as high as Leno’s 9.2 score in his Garth Brooks-“The Dance”-ing finale, and it’s the same as Conan O’Brien did in the first night of his ill-fated 2009 stint replacing Leno. But it’s more than twice the ratings of Leno’s second-to-last week. Fallon’s musical guest tonight will be Tim McGraw followed by Arcade Fire on Thursday and Justin Timberlake on Friday. Bounce, bounce; bounce, bounce.