The 10 Best Dallas-Fort Worth Saturday Night Live Performances

Selena Gomez slayed it on the stage at 30 Rock last weekend.EXPAND
Selena Gomez slayed it on the stage at 30 Rock last weekend.
Screenshot from Saturday Night Live

We've gotten pretty spoiled of late here in Dallas. Three times in the past four months, one of our homegrown musicians has made it onto the biggest late-night TV stage in North America (and, arguably, the world): Saturday Night Live. First it was Demi Lovato, then Leon Bridges and finally, just last Saturday, a smoldering pair of songs from Selena Gomez. While it's certainly not something to be taken for granted, it's also not the first time, by any stretch, that North Texas artists have made it to SNL; they've been doing that since the 1970s. To honor the occasion, we've picked out the 10 best appearances on SNL by DFW artists.

10. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (December 8, 1990)

Before collaborating with Steve Martin and marrying Paul Simon, Edie Brickell graced the famous SNL stages on December 8, 1990. In an episode featuring Tom Hanks as host, Brickell performed a take on her most recognizable tune, "What I Am." The buoyant, percussive-heavy tune was difficult to escape then and still follows Brickell around as both a reminder of her chart-topping success and her ubiquitous pop culture presence. While recordings of this particular performance scarcely remain, there is a same period YouTube clip of her performing on David Letterman's show that includes a brief post-song interview where the shy Brickell makes mention of her Dallas roots. Jeff Strowe

9. Don Henley (March 10, 2001)

Dallas resident and erstwhile Eagles frontman Don Henley has the cache to have appeared twice on SNL: once in 1989 and again in 2001. Of the two performances, it's the latter that stands out. While the song of choice, "Everything Is Different Now," doesn't necessarily rank among his very best work, it's Henley's delivery that makes it memorable. Playing it cool (maybe a little too cool for his own good) in all black and wearing tinted shades, Henley struts around the stage alternating personas that range between hustling street preacher and recent-day Bono. The whole spectacle borders on parody (in the best way, of course), likening itself to an SNL skit as masterminded by the evening's host, Conan O' Brien. JS

8. Demi Lovato - (October 17, 2015)

During her debut Saturday Night Live performance Demi Lovato displayed the full arsenal that makes her one of today’s most complete pop stars. Opting for a full band to back her, Lovato performed a stellar mash-up of “Cool For The Summer” and “Confident,” the two lead singles from her new album Confident, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. During the four-minute performance Lovato absolutely owns the stage and completely lives up to the latter song’s namesake showing off her stellar voice, her sultry, hip-stirring moves and delivering perfect, attitude-rich facial expressions that force the viewer to forget she’s on stage with 20 other people soaking up all the attention as any star should. Mikel Galicia

Performance starts at 32:20

7. Norah Jones (March 6, 2004)

Norah Jones’ second appearance on Saturday Night Live wasn’t a trailblazing performance by any means but even without any of the glitz and glamour other performers might bring to the stage, Jones nonetheless turned in a wonderful performance of her Grammy-winning single “Sunrise” from the multi-platinum album Feels Like Home. If we’re being honest, though, there’s a good bet her SNL debut performance in 2002 where she performed her breakout hit “Don’t Know Why” was a much stronger showing, but video of that episode is nowhere to be found online. But Jones is such a talent that even her weakest showing on SNL is one of the best performances from a North Texas artist to date. MG

6. Vanilla Ice (January 12, 1991)

Like it or not, Dallas, Vanilla Ice is our hometown legendary one-hit wonder. Full video of his SNL performance isn’t available online but if it’s anything close to this footage of Vanilla Ice serenading the audience after performing “Ice Ice Baby” that night, we’re sure this was one of the best showings by any artist ever on the show. Just take a look at those moves! MC Hammer, eat your heart out. And those clothes! Parachute pants and a glittery jacket with ‘Word To Your Mother’ stitched on the back? It doesn’t get any better than this. Oh, the ridiculousness of '90s nostalgia. It’s fully on display here in all its glory. This may have been the peak of his career and there weren’t really any reasons to root for Vanilla Ice later on, but this right here is classic. MG

5. Leon Bridges (December 5, 2015)

Dapping or no dapping, Ryan Gosling or no Ryan Gosling, Leon Bridges was on fire when he hit the stage at 30 Rock last December. It was the cap to a year that had seen the Fort Worth native appear on pretty well every late-night TV stage that matters, and he made sure to deliver by far his most energetic performance of the lot. Shouting out commands to his band and dancing nonstop, "Smooth Sailin'" was the undoubted highlight before he turned things down a few notches for "River." The SNL stage has claimed plenty of victims over the years, but Bridges took the opportunity to seal the deal instead. Jeff Gage

4. The Dixie Chicks (February 8, 2003)

Just before the Dixie Chicks' massive George W. Bush controversy, they appeared on Saturday Night Live with Matthew McConaughey as host. In their only-ever Saturday Night Live performance, the Chicks burned down the barn with "Sin Wagon, and  followed that up with"Travelin' Soldier," a stripped down, Bruce Robison-penned song about a soldier killed in Vietnam. Almost exactly one month later, the Chicks would spark a controversy that led to death threats and the band getting the boot from country radio stations across the country. Amy McCarthy

3. Selena Gomez (January 23, 2016)

To hell with the "former Disney star" baggage. Selena Gomez hit the SNL stage just last weekend, riding the high of her second No. 1 album, and she pulled out all the stops with an ambitious pair of performances. "Hands to Myself" got most of the headlines for its bedroom choreography, and on this list it really only comes second to St. Vincent's for production value. But the real star turn comes on the all-but-a-capella medley of "Good for You" and "Same Old Love," which drops the flash to showcase a young singer coming into her own. JG

Upcoming Events

2. Meat Loaf (March 25, 1978)

On March 25, 1978, a sweaty, out-of-breath bundle of energy named Meat Loaf took the stage of SNL and raucously pummeled his way through the catchy and effervescent single "All Revved Up." Born in Dallas and educated at Walnut Hill Lane's Thomas Jefferson High, Loaf (born Marvin Lee Aday) appeared on the national stage as somewhat of a fringe act most famous for his role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This ferocious performance, however, coupled with a hilariously awkward introduction by host and stage icon Christopher Lee, soon catapulted Loaf into the larger world of musical stardom. JS

1. St. Vincent (May 17, 2014)

The aura of David Byrne-esque rock-show-as-performance-art hung high over St. Vincent’s Saturday Night Live performance. Jagged guitars and robotic beats were presented with choreographed post-modern movements by way of the tunes “Birth in Reverse” and “Digital Witness” off of her 2014 self-titled album. Such wonderful art pop was what we'd already come to expect from Annie Clark and her crew, but it left a few people scratching their heads on Twitter. By far one of the more challenging bands to play Saturday Night Live in a long while, St. Vincent's appearance harkened back to the glory days when the show was more adventurous with its music bookings. Wanz Dover

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >