I’m not sure if it makes a person lame anymore to admit it, but “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” is a great late-night talk show. I have an immense life-long affection for David Letterman, but even I’m willing to admit that the man hasn’t done anything relevant on his talk show since he slept with one of his employees. Leno has never been good; Kimmel has the occasional moment (the “Fucking Matt Damon” videos); Craig Ferguson is probably the best interviewer; and Conan may be the most talented (relegated as he is to TBS); but Fallon seems to have the most fun. He still can’t interview a guest to save his life, but he often makes up for it by engaging them in silly games with audience members, which fail as often as they succeed. But the man tries. He attempts more than any other late-night talk show host to do something different, to break up the late-night format, and his enjoyment is so earnest that it’s infectious. It’s hard to watch “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” without getting swept up in his stammering giddiness.
Where he excels, however, are the songs. It helps that he has The Roots — the greatest late-night band in the history of late-night shows — but Fallon is brilliant at not only writing new songs and re-inventing old ones, but talking other guests into playing along as demonstrated below, with the likes of Stephen Colbert and Bruce Springsteen. Leno and Letterman may still get the ratings, but it’s Fallon who shows up on YouTube, in blogs, and on Tumblr accounts the next day. He’s not only embraced the Internet generation, he’s mastered it.
Here are the 10 Best Musical Performances of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
10. Pants on the Ground (as Neil Young)
9. The Ballad of Anthony Weiner
8. Balls in Your Mouth
7. Drunk on Christmas (with John Rich)
6. Do It (with Gwyneth Paltrow)
5. “Charles in Charge” Theme Song (as Bob Dylan)
4. History of Rap Part II (with Justin Timberlake)
3. Friday (with Stephen Colbert)
2. The History of Rap Part I (with Justin Timberlake)
1. Whip My Hair (as Neil Young, with Bruce Springsteen)