This is one stacked week, as the talkies have seemingly upped their game for Conan O'Brien's final week hosting Late Night. Leno, as if anticipating his replacement, has booked a very Conan-like music lineup for the week, procuring Andrew Bird, Oscar lock A.R. Rahman and Monday night's starting off point, Lily Allen.
The UK star just hit number one in her home country for both song ("The Fear") and album (It's Not Me, It's You) while also making headlines for advising parents to let their kids try drugs. Besides Leno, the spunky Allen will also be on Ellen (Wednesday) and look for her to be a little more tight-lipped with US audiences (see her chat with Matt Lauer last week). For instance, don't expect her to go flashing us her third nipple.
While the Lily Allen stateside onslaught is already in progress, A.R. Rahman's is about to begin. Already the biggest pop star in India, Rahman's work for Slumdog Millionaire is almost guaranteed to win him an Oscar -- likely two -- and place him on a bigger stage here in the US. He'll be performing one of his two nominated songs -- "Jai Ho" with singer Sukhwinder Singh -- on Leno Thursday, and then an abbreviated version of it and "O Saya" for the Oscar telecast. And by "abbreviated" I mean part of a medley of all three nominated songs, limited to 65 seconds each. This new limitation is what led Peter Gabriel (the other nominated artist) to pull out of performing as a protest. His song for Wall-E, "Down to Earth," (which normally runs 6 minutes) will now likely be performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir. Meanwhile, M.I.A., Rahman's other collaborator, just had her baby this past Wednesday and it's probably too soon to expect her to make it back to the stage. I guess stranger things have happened -- like performing at the Grammys with contractions on her due date.
Finally, it's the final week for Late Night Conan O'Brien before Jimmy Fallon steps in and Conan disappears for a couple months getting ready for the Tonight Show gig. To send him off, White Stripes are playing their first public performance since the summer of 2007. They have a history with O'Brien, going back to even before appearances on the show (they played five nights in a row back in 2003). Conan has known Meg and Jack White since before they were even The White Stripes, which goes a long ways explaining Conan's appearance in their Michel Gondry directed video for "Denial Twist."
Wow ... all that and no mention of Letterman's stellar first half of the week. He's got Willie Nelson with Asleep at the Wheel on Monday, M. Ward on Tuesday, and Antony and the Johnsons stopping by on Wednesday. Any other week, those would be the leads, my friends.
Playlist: Picks for the week
Monday, February 16
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Lenka (REPEAT)
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Willie Nelson with Asleep at the Wheel
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Living Things
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Lily Allen
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: thenewno2
Tuesday, February 17
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: M. Ward
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Funeral Party
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Andrew Bird
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Lykke Li
Wednesday, February 18
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Antony and the Johnsons
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Lisa Hannigan
SUNDANCE: Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...: Elton John, Diana Krall
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Lily Allen
Thursday, February 19
FUEL: The Daily Habit: Razorlight
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: A.R. Rahman, Sukhwinder Singh
Friday, February 20
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kinky
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: The Knux
NBC: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Chris Isaak
NBC: Late Night With Conan O'Brien: White Stripes
Saturday, February 21
NBC: Saturday Night Live: Kanye West
PBS: Austin City Limits: Kings of Leon, Roky Erickson
Sunday, February 21
ABC: The Academy Awards: A.R. Rahman, Sukhwinder Singh, M.I.A. (maybe???)