Still giggling about that “OMG IS THIS A TOP SHOP COMMERCIAL” tweet (more on that in a moment), but in all seriousness: It’s great that Saturday Night Live once again pushed the limits of their own stage, booked an act that most were introduced to as an accessory to more recognizable pop stars, and focused on the music at a time when the viewing audience desperately needed it. Disclosure did a fine job on SNL, and the star power assist brought forth by Lorde and Sam Smith didn’t overshadow them so much as call into question why we don’t know these two cherub-faced producers on a first-name basis yet. If Madonna made a point to catch them at Governors Ball 2014, it was only a matter of time before they enjoyed a mainstream spotlight of their own — and that’s what SNL delivered.
For fans of inoffensive, beat-savvy, soft-on-the-ears, synth-driven electro-pop, Disclosure — the brother duo of Guy and Howard Lawrence — provides just the ticket in the cool-without-commitment department, in that they’re enjoyable if you’re not looking to have the earth of your tastes shaken to the core. These guys came to prominence with “Latch” in 2013, which featured the vocals of a then on-the-rise Sam Smith, and they were a major festival staple in the seasons that followed. (Smith would go on to include an acoustic take on “Latch” on his debut record In The Lonely Hour in 2014.) Onstage and in studio, the brothers Lawrence look like kids playing mad beat scientists as they twist knobs, work various instruments and fiddle with laptops — but it’s not like they just rolled over one morning and decided to tinker with technology in hopes of figuring out what the hell Ableton is all about instead of playing video games. They’re writers and composers with an ear for tech-savvy tunes. While that may give pause to those who prefer a traditional rock set-up or fail to find legitimacy in songs written on a computer instead of a piano, that doesn’t call into question the validity of their craft and the fact that they’ve been quietly bolstering a pop resume worth celebrating. That’s what their SNL performance felt like, a celebration, a proper debut: Lorde and Sam Smith served as special guests, as did the rad addition of a drumline for “Magnets,” and Disclosure more or less recreated what they’ve done onstage at Coachella, Glastonbury and beyond.
First up was the Lorde-featuring “Magnets” off September’s Caracal, their sophomore album. The performance served as Lorde’s first major outing in months, and the three performers worked seamlessly with the beat provided by the line of drummers stepping in time to the music behind them. Lorde’s breathy vocal lines and the driving pulse of the track made for a well-rounded, thoroughly enjoyable rendition of the dance track and gave it a healthy injection of in-the-flesh energy. Lorde’s, erm, choreography was just a bonus by the end of it.
With “Omen,” one of Caracal‘s singles, Smith was very much in his element alongside his friends and collaborators — or “brothers,” as he’d later refer to the Lawrences on Instagram — but before we delve into Smith’s performance, we need a round of applause for the back-up singer with the eyebrow that moved in time with the beat before Smith even started singing. MAY WE ALL LEARN TO THRIVE ON THAT LEVEL. The only way Smith could hit a bad note is if it were to hurl itself in his path without warning, and even then he’d find some way to navigate and get back on that soaring falsetto track.
As for the internet, parents were into it, and the rest of Twitter’s critics were a mixed bag. Whether or not the world loved or hated Disclosure or found them to be brilliant or boring isn’t the point. The point is that someone other than a pop star got a major endorsement from late night TV on Saturday night, and that’s a good thing for the talents that fuel the shooting stars of the pop charts — especially those who do so off to the side on the main stage.
Disagree, but LOL.
not even a serious case of lorde hands could save a pretty underwhelming disclosure performance on snl.
— Sam Clark (@samplestiltskin) November 15, 2015
— MemphisChuck (@memphischuck) November 15, 2015
Positive vibes from the Heirs:
— THE HEIRS (@TheHeirsMusic) November 15, 2015
You have been, you just didn’t know it, probably.
— Desmond Brandon (@EightBit__Hero) November 15, 2015
[more burn emojis]
— Sam Smith Canada (@SamSmithCA) November 15, 2015
[stop making me whip out the burn emojis]
I understand SNL booked Disclosure due to the popstar collabs, but I don't have to like it. Wish they had done "When a Fire Starts to Burn."
— Jenni B. (@jenni_b) November 15, 2015
— Bryxter (@BryxterNavalta) November 15, 2015
IS IT ALSO YOUR BIRTHDAY
DISCLOSURE WAS ON SNL AND SAM SMITH CAME TO DO OMEN AND LORDE CAME TO DO MAGNETS.
— Trey Smith (@tsmith1289) November 15, 2015
I’m sure they’d appreciate that.
— Jennifer Martinson (@jenndoingwork) November 15, 2015
Dad’s love “Omen” too guys.
lol my dad called me to tell me he's watching Disclosure on SNL I can't believe he's, like, actually into them and went to see them w/ me.
— magpie (@TheArmsOfSorrow) November 15, 2015
Aaaaand I’m spent.
Loving this Top Shop sketch on SNL oh wait it's Disclosure ft. Sam Smith
— Josiah Hughes (@josiahhughes) November 15, 2015