The Tonight Show has evolved majorly over the years to reflect more of Jimmy Fallon’s unabashed fandom of his celebrity guests than interviewing skills. Already praised for his musical parodies in the SNL years (see Mick Jagger), the talk show host often brings his acoustic guitar along with him for the prime time spot to showcase his talent for singing impressions. He usually blows people out of the bloody water. Last week he pulled out an absolutely transcendental performance of Bowie’s Life on Mars? and it brought back some fond memories. It was a tough decision but here are Jimmy Fallon’s top 9 musical moments.
Jimmy Fallon is a masquerading genius – one of the most convincing impersonators of classic artists out there. He’s also funny as hell. From The Doors to Springsteen, here are his top 9 musical moments.
Fallon no doubt can pull off a solid Bruce Springsteen impersonation, it’s even better when it’s lampooning Governor Chris Christie and includes New Jersey’s best musical export, Springsteen himself. Yes we are seeing double as he joins Fallon onstage to perform a new rendition of Born to Run, sporting spoof lyrics about getting stuck in the four-day long George Washington Bridge traffic jam in the most rock ’n roll way possible. You just feel the urge to shout “BORN IN THE USA” after watching, right?
The Ragtime Gals
Starting to become a tradition in the Fallon world, his barbershop quartet takes hot tunes and transforms them into sweet cherry on top stripped down acapella – including Justin Timberlake‘s SexyBack, Marvin Gay‘s Sexual Healing and R. Kelly‘s Ignition. Group members include head writer A.D. Miles, and comedians Tom Shillue and Chris Tartaro with temporary fifths members joining in. Jason Derulo’s Talk Dirty received a barber treatment with an aca-trumpet included and Kevin Spacey singing “First class seat on my lap girl. Riding comfortable” – seriously.
Extreme – More Than Words
Taking musical parodies to the extreme, Fallon teamed up this time with fellow goofball Jack Black, singing their hearts out to Extreme‘s gut-wrenching 90s hit More Than Words. The frame-for-frame rendition is properly equipped with a black and white palette, luscious wigs and sensual longing stares. The remakes attention to detail majestically extends all the way down to the guitarists painted finger nails. Black’s falsetto and menacing hand gestures portrays a creepy-version of Gary Cherone, whilst Fallon pouts and flicks his hair in Nuno Bettencourts place.
We don’t usually see Fallon in a serious light, however, as a recent tribute to Bowie, the tonight show host took on Life on Mars? with Chris Martin on keys (letting Fallon take the lead with vocals, of course). Previously using his Bowie mimicking skills to create Tebowie (A parody version of Space Oddity to poke fun at NFL star Tim Tebow’s constant praying), Fallon steps out of the platforms shoes to bust out a stripped back impression of his friend. Keep watching to see The Roots‘ Captain Kirk Douglas lend support and slay on guitar.
With a little help from old mate Justin Timberlake and the singer himself, Fallon effortlessly pulled off a three man Michael McDonald band crooning Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The repetitive children’s song receives a much needed soulful redo (white George Lucas wigs included). In good sport, the former Doobie Brothers member leads the stiff and haunting acapella duo to the streets in a What a Fool Believes-esque rendition alongside The Roots. The only thing better than one smooth baritone is three.
The Chickeneers (Lumineers)
It took The Lumineers 3 years to create their smash hit Ho Hey and Jimmy Fallon 2 minutes to totally own it. With Blake Shelton, Nick Offerman and Chris Tartaro, new supergroup The Chickeneers have only one hit and none of the members actually play their own instruments, because they are chickens, and have wings, and don’t know how to do anything except cluck to Lumineers songs.
Already proving to be seriously talented at impersonating classic rock singers, Fallon took audiences for a spin with this 1965 version of Drake’s Hotline Bling. If your’e a mid-sixties rock ’n roll fan and want to hear the 2015 post-breakup song without the ear bleeding – here is the perfect version for you. The cover recalls the style of Positively 4th Street complete with some high-pitched harmonica work, Dylan-esque strumming, vocal phrasing and organ flourishes.
Getting a musical parody down so right that it turns into a tribute is hard to come by. Fallon effortlessly gets the magic and charisma of Mr. Mojo Rising himself with his take on the Reading Rainbow theme song (an American kids TV show). The track genuinely sounds like a real Doors song, confusing non-Americans worldwide that they have found an unheard and hidden gem. The attention to detail is insane with the sneaky High gesture to the camera, stage transformation, the fake mole and those stuffed tight pants. Not expected was that haunting Jim Morrison scream.
Like he did with the Dylan impression, Fallon can completely nail a nasally vocal and fool the audience into thinking they are seeing the real deal. A regular alter-ego, Fallon transforms himself into Fake Neil Young simply with a hat and harmonica. Chucking in some humour, the Fresh Prince of Bel-air theme song becomes a moving folk song when you add the acoustic strumming of Young. Timbre-fake Neil Young loves dramatic pauses and crooning out a floating falsetto rendition of “And I yelled to the cabbie, yo home smell ya later.” Well played, Fallon. Well played.