Now that the year of Back to the Future anniversary celebrations is over and we can go back to just appreciating it whenever a marathon (of Parts I and II, at least) hits VH1, Huey Lewis’s oh-so-Eighties anthems can be shelved for a second, too — unless you’re the 1975.
The Manchester electro-pop-rock group have long since won over crowds stateside — they found a fan in Taylor Swift, and rumors popped up that she and lead singer Matthew Healy were snogging for a bit, but nope — and made the climb from small clubs to proper rock rooms of a grander scale shortly following their 2013 self-titled full-length. They joined Larry David, Bernie Sanders, and the Zoolander dudes for their Saturday Night Live debut, and they showed up to do what they do best, which is to say they dressed up guilty-pleasure hooks in futuristic trappings and tried to pass them off as both original and enjoyable. What ensued was pleasurable, polarizing, punch-your-TV obnoxious, or some combination of all of the above depending on how the 1975 hit your ears.
When better-known artists play SNL, the criticisms and compliments are more or less predictable: People will make fun of Ariana Grande’s inability to sing her consonants; Maroon 5 will get raked over the cheesy pop-rock coals and get their sweaters made fun of or something; Selena Gomez’s utter lack of live chops will make itself good and known. But with the decidedly up-and-coming (for SNL, anyway) performers booked on late-night television’s biggest platform — the Hoziers, the Chance the Rappers, the George Ezras, etc. — the viewing public lets loose with the knee-jerk reactions. The 1975’s fans adored what they brought to the SNL table, fine. Strangers to the band had no idea why Healy’s tongue played such a prominent part in his performance or what his dance moves were all about (see below), but plenty were turned on to “The Sound” because it’s as catchy as pinkeye at summer camp.
If anyone can listen to “Love Me” and not hear some Sports vibes in between Healy’s spastic dance moves and those synthetic lows, I will shave the top of my head, dye the remaining scraggles white, and call myself Doc Brown for the rest of my days. And if you don’t hear Huey Lewis Britishified, you have to at least acknowledge the sonic sounds of late-Eighties/early-Nineties rom-com-wave at work. Here, the 1975 sound like they should be playing the rock club in Pretty in Pink that Ducky can never sneak into. This isn’t terrifically game-changing or earth-shattering or whatever, but it’s fun enough for what it is: A bunch of dudes enjoying the riffs they’re rocking while dancing around like the stars they are on the stage they’ve worked hard to arrive at. Let ’em have that, even if they’re peddling a beloved vibe that’s racked up plenty of mileage in the name of nostalgia.
The internet, for the most part, was not kind to Healy and Company, but at least the nasty comments hurled their way were about shallow shit like chest tattoos and bulbous tongues rather than the music itself. Case in point:
Watching the 1975 on SNL and I’m reminded that you can own a shirt or a chest tattoo, not both.
— Brendan Hay (@B_Hay) February 7, 2016
the 1975 fans : *thinks everyone is gonna bandwagon*
snl viewers : the lead singer needs to be punched in the face immediately
— The 1975 (@The1975Updates) February 7, 2016
— Lorenzo Hodges (@deathofgrammar) February 7, 2016
After watching SNL, I don’t think I’ve ever hated a person more than the lead singer of The 1975.
— Mi⚡️ter Ja⚡️on (@MisterJasonPTU) February 7, 2016
I mean, laws and stuff, probably?
— Mike Speaks Loudly (@nycmikewp) February 7, 2016
Still, they won over some new fans:
me before watching snl last night: i hate the 1975
me after watching snl: i love the 1975
— meredyth (@gdansaf) February 7, 2016
Including Camila Cabello of Fifth Harmony:
loved the 1975 on SNL tonight, i think they’re brilliant
— camEEla cabeYo (@camilacabello97) February 7, 2016
Dads, for some reason, sabotaged a bunch of 1975 fans’ hopes and dreams in a single broadcast:
THE 1975 WAS ON SNL LAST BIGHT WHAT THE HELL WHY DIDNT MY DAD TELL ME WTF
— Moonsun (@TheNervousTick) February 7, 2016
the 1975 on snl
my dad: wow they suck
me: are you kidding? they’re great
dad: the whole world is on drugs
— rachel ☆.。:* (@placidstyles) February 7, 2016
And bless this GIF forever and ever until the end of time.
me watching the 1975 on snl pic.twitter.com/B5UL2CNmjT
— – (@longndlost) February 7, 2016
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 8, 2016