SNL Sound-Off: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis


Here’s the thing: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were an act I had intentionally avoided until this week’s Saturday Night Live. It’s not that I have anything against the meteoric hip-hop impresario, or that I wasn’t interested in the songs that scored him one of the highest rankings on the Billboard charts for an unsigned artist. I do this occasionally with buzzier bands and wait until I have the opportunity to catch a live set in order to love/hate/feel indifferent towards any given performer, as I tend to get all scorned lover-like when a pop/electronic/hip-hop act turns out to be a genius in the studio but one of those lackluster “Here’s a pre-recorded track I’m gonna hype the shit out of” musicians onstage. Taking all of this into consideration, I knew that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would either confuse SNL viewers to high heaven or bowl them over with a memorable, kinetic set — and based on the cheers that erupted in the room as soon as they threw up their hands after “Thrift Shop,” it was clear that the Seattle rapper and his production partner-in-crime were facing the latter.

I just don’t happen to agree with the in-studio audience this time around.

See also: Critics Need to Lay Off Macklemore

Things that irritate me: canned vocals, prop instruments in place of real ones, failing to stay on the beat. Things that popped up throughout Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ set: canned vocals, prop instruments in place of real ones, failing to stay on the beat. Macklemore himself ran around the stage like a nut job in the best possible way and truly sang (rapped) for his supper despite his tendency to slip up as far as timing’s concerned, but the most distracting thing during “Thrift Shop” was the fact that a gaggle of horn players were dancing around in the back without actually playing their instruments over the song’s signature loop or in place of it. They were mic-ed and put to good use during “Can’t Hold Us” and for parts of “Thrift Shop,” so why were they shelved for the majority of the rapper’s biggest single when they would’ve been such an incredible addition? The “Thrift Shop” chorus sounded suspiciously taped as well, and again, if there’s a sharp dressed man onstage with a mic in his hand, I want him to sing into it, especially if there’s a dapper gent working his ass off (in a leather tank top and epaulets yanked from the costume closet of Michael Jackson, no less) to the left. Missed opportunities there, big time.

I acknowledge that the sound in the room could’ve been incredible and it may not have resonated on my television Saturday night, but something got lost in translation there, and it came across as a half-canned production. Whether or not it was doesn’t really matter at this point.

“Cant Hold us” went over swimmingly and Macklemore and crew did their part in getting the room to clap until their hands bled. As riotous and uplifting as the song is, it was still fantastically refreshing (though unsurprising) to watch Macklemore and Lewis go ape over the breakdown of the track, treating the booth like a set of monkey bars while doing their best to get everyone on their adrenaline-gushing level. All in all Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ showing at SNL was a strong one that could’ve been stronger — and one I look forward to watching them top.

And now for the entertaining as hell commentary provided by the Twitterati:

Last night’s SNL host, Kevin Hart, was a big fan of his musical counterpart.

Letters to Cleo frontwoman/goddess-in-rock Kay Hanley approved.

O____o is all I have to say about that. (Also, I think Macklemore is just that effervescent without the help of the nose candy, thankyouverymuch.)

See also: Five Rappers Fans Love That Critics Can’t Stand

Julie Bowen of Parenthood appreciated Macklemore’s sartorial bravery and I’m pretty sure she wishes he jumped out of her birthday cake Marilyn-syle.


I agree with any/all of your sentiments expressed here, Elijah Daniel.

Exactly. Also, everyone’s feed forever when it comes to bands/artists that aren’t cool to have just discovered anymore, especially if they’ve done a Tiny Desk Concert.

Maybe! Though I wish they’d put maybe, like, an hour into thinking about additional instrumentation for the set. (I’m still not convinced about those damn trumpets.)

Blame the epaulets and their glittery powers.

And finally, moms love Macklemore!

… jk not all the moms.

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