There’s something about the marriage between music and TV — it’s a harmonious union that’s delivered some great entertainment over the years. This year was no exception. But in case your DVR wasn’t working, you don’t own a TV, or just want to rewind some of TV’s best musical moments, here’s a list of the year’s best.
D’Angelo, “The Charade,” Saturday Night Live
Aired: January 31
After shocking the world with a new album, Black Messiah, at the end of 2014 (it had been 14 years since Voodoo), D’Angelo continued the album’s bold statement with a tour and a stop at Saturday Night Live. He and his band donned “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts, as D’Angelo provided a powerful soundtrack with “The Charade” and lent a voice to the increasing racial tension and divide that unfortunately only continued to grow in 2015.
Tom Waits, “Take One Last Look,” TheLate Show With David Letterman
Aired: May 16
Foo Fighters, “Everlong,” TheLate Show With David Letterman
Aired: May 20
Finishing up his 33-year run on Late Night, David Letterman’s parade of esteemed guests who swung by to bid farewell was staggering and incredibly heartfelt. One of the highlights was a rare television appearance from Tom Waits during the last week of the show. While Waits dedicated a new song, the slow and reflective “Take One Last Look” to Letterman, it was the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” that really got the waterworks going for Letterman’s final show. Performed amid a barrage of images and footage of Letterman and his guests, shenanigans, and classic moments through the years, the song took on new meaning and cemented viewer’s relationship with the retired TV host.
James Taylor and Stephen Colbert, “Fire and Rain,” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Aired: November 18
Stephen Colbert hit the ground running in September when he took over TheLate Show. Hosting legendary singer/songwriter James Taylor, Colbert lent a hand with a comedic update of his famous “Fire and Rain.”
Alanis Morissette and James Corden, “Ironic,” The Late, Late Show
Aired: November 8
Celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morisette made a now-legendary cameo appearance with Taylor Swift at L.A.’s Staples Center in August. Showing her sense of humor, Morrisette stopped by The Late, Late Show with James Corden to update her hit “Ironic” to comedic effect.
Neil Young and Jimmy Fallon, “Old Man,” The Tonight Show
Aired: February 2
As much of a musician as he is an impersonator, Jimmy Fallon had the audience seeing double when he was joined by Neil Young. In matching acoustic guitars and outfits, their high-pitched voices intertwined lovingly for this rendition of Young’s classic “Old Man.”
Aired: April 9
Madonna made a stop on the Jimmy Fallon show to promote this year’s successful Rebel Heart album and tour. As has become the show’s tradition, Fallon and The Roots assumed the role of backing band. Arming themselves with toy instruments, this stripped-down jam session with Madonna resulted in an unforgettably playful version of “Holiday.”
Miley Cyrus, “Karen Don’t Be Sad,” Saturday Night Live
Aired: October 3
Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, Miley Cyrus, introduced by Hillary Clinton, performed “Karen Don’t Be Sad” with The Flaming Lips as her backup band. Billed as Miley and Her Dead Petz, the psychedelic and sorrowful song is one of a handful culled from her album collaboration and short tour with the Lips in 2015.
Aired: February 23
Jimmy Kimmel’s clever series “Mash-Up Mondays” combined Weezer and ZZ Top (Wee-Z Top), Morris Day and the Haim, Joss Stone Temple Pilots and Jewel and the Gang to brilliant effect. But when Kenny G brought some of his trademark shine to rapper Warren G’s 1995 thug hit, “Regulate,” the unlikely duo topped them all.
Leon Bridges, “River,” Saturday Night Live
Aired: December 5
Texas soul singer Leon Bridges had a breakout year. Along with his debut full-length, Coming Home, Bridges delivered his retro ‘60s style voice and sound across the globe with a world tour. For the deeply gospel and meditative “River” on Saturday Night Live, Bridges stripped down with a guitar, organ and a gospel choir.