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SNL Performances That Completely Destroyed Careers


It’s hard to believe, but Saturday Night Live
has been on the air for over 40 years. In that time, the show has logged a massive
number of memorable musical performances, and a gig on the show can still make or break
an artist’s career. As The AV Club put it, “SNL is easily the
single most important television show on which not to bomb.” In the cases of the following acts, a poor
showing on ended up putting a real damper on their futures. Sinead O’Connor Irish singer Sinead O’Connor caused a major
stir in 1992 when her SNL performance evolved into a hugely controversial political statement. At the end of an a cappella rendition of Bob
Marley’s “War,” she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II and then said, “Fight the real enemy!” SNL producer Lorne Michaels was left to deal
with more than 4,000 angry phone calls to NBC, and O’Connor was subsequently banned
from the show. Amidst the backlash, she spent the rest of
the decade making music, though nothing became anywhere near as popular as her 1990 hit single
“Nothing Compares 2 U.” In 2003, she announced her retirement from
music, though that proved to be short-lived. In 2010, O’Connor explained her beef with
the Catholic Church, justifying her performance as a protest against priestly abuse. Writing in The Washington Post, she said, “I knew my action would cause trouble, but
I wanted to force a conversation where there was a need for one; that is part of being
an artist.” Ashlee Simpson We haven’t heard too much from Ashlee Simpson
lately, but back in 2004 she was still pretty relevant. But that all came crashing down on SNL. As Simpson started her second performance
of the evening, the pre-recorded vocals for her first song, “Pieces of Me,” started playing. Panic-stricken, she did a weird little jig
and then slipped off the stage as her band played on. At the end of the show, Simpson offered a
hasty explanation: “I feel so bad that my band started playing
the wrong song so I thought I’d do a hoedown. I’m sorry!” She later revealed that she’d been suffering
from severe acid reflux and her father had insisted that she use a backing track. Afterwards, Simpson’s career took a major
dip. She did appear on SNL a second time the following
year, but to little fanfare. After seeing more diminishing sales, Simpson
has not released an album since 2008. Her personal life has remained busy, though,
as she’s been married twice and has two children. Karmin If you’ve never heard of Karmin, there’s a
good chance their widely-criticized 2012 Saturday Night Live appearance has something to do
with that. The husband-and-wife duo of Amy and Nick Noonan
originally found viral fame with a series of covers on YouTube. But on SNL, they performed two original compositions,
and critics subsequently ripped them apart. Spin’s Marc Hogan said, “This was hip-hop even Mitt Romney could enjoy,
though he seems to have a little bit more personality.” In the years afterward, Karmin’s albums barely
charted and their career fizzled, leaving SNL viewers to wonder if they just imagined
the whole thing. Since then, the band has gone on hiatus to
focus on Amy’s solo career as her new persona, Qveen Herby. Lana Del Rey Appearing on the January 14th, 2012 SNL, Lana
Del Rey’s incredibly stiff performances of her songs “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were
swiftly and widely panned. As Rolling Stone put it, “Her shaky, slightly dead-eyed Saturday Night
Live debut was treated like a national emergency, inspiring weeks of debate.” The reaction on Twitter at the time was brutal,
with actress Juliette Lewis saying, “Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like
watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes.” It was so bad that the show addressed the
situation the very next episode with Kristen Wiig as Del Rey: “I failed to reach the high bar set by past
guests like Bubba Sparxx The Baja Men, and Shaggy.” But this story has a happy ending, as Del
Rey ultimately survived what could’ve been a career-ending gig. In fact, her career has been flourishing. Her album Born to Die was certified platinum,
she’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, and she’s collaborated with The Weeknd and
Stevie Nicks. For fans and critics alike, that SNL performance
is now little more than a distant memory. Thanks for watching! Click the Nicki Swift icon to subscribe to
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