Film & TV

Top Ten Musical Performances on the Original Arsenio Hall Show

No, it's not a dream! Arsenio Hall is back on the air with a late night talk show with the Dog

Pound, the Posse 2.0, and the deskless interview. While he's getting trashed by critics for having a guest list that's 20-years old, and for telling both Nas and Kendrick Lamar on separate nights that they were each the specific reason why he wanted to come back to late night TV, we come here to praise Arsenio not to bury him.

While there were plenty of awful musical moments represented on The Arsenio Hall Show (Kenny G, New Kids on the Block, Bill Clinton...), he also brought on acts completely unrepresented anywhere else on late night television. After digging through the archives of a guest list that included countless appearances by Andrew Dice Clay and MC Hammer, we present you with the top ten musical performances on the original Arsenio Hall Show. Here's hoping his new show can last long enough to give us ten more memorable moments.

10. Miles Davis - "JoJo"

Yes, it has a smooth jazz feel not far off from the Kenny G we scorn, but still it's Miles Davis. The fact that he lived long enough to appear on the Arsenio Hall show is incredible. It's like hearing Johnny Carson will be tomorrow night's guest on Jimmy Kimmel.

9. Dinosaur Jr. & Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - "Missing Link"

This foreshadows Del's genre-breaking collaborations with the Gorillaz. He performs this song from the Judgment Night soundtrack with indie stalwarts Dinosaur Jr.

8. Black Sheep - "The Choice Is Yours"

Sonny, let me tell you of a time before Twitter and iPhones. When all you needed were two men, two microphones, and a backing track to entertain the crowd, and we liked it.

7. Lenny Kravitz - "Let Love Rule"

Lenny made many appearances on Arsenio including one time with his Mom, Roxie Roker (from The Jeffersons), but this is, by far, his best performance. His fantastic backing singers remind us to "Let Love Rule."

6. REM - "Get Up"

They start with a listless performance of "Stand," a song they seem genuinely bored of. Then things get good when Arsenio interviews an impossibly earnest and ponytailed Michael Stipe about the environment. Guitarist Mike Mills gives Arsenio a Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks jersey. Then things get really good when you see why they were once considered the world's greatest rock band with a performance of "Get Up."

5. N.W.A. - "100 Miles And Runnin'"

They start off pretending they can't perform because the police won't let them, and it's a credit to their poker faces that you believe them. But after a commercial break, they run on to the stage and diss their former ally Ice Cube as much as they go after the police.

4. Beastie Boys - "So What'cha Want"

Right when you think things can't get any more anarchic or electric, out come Cypress Hill taking it to another level.

3. Digable Planets - "Nickel Bag"

With a full band, complete with jazz flautist, this New York trio claims not to be advocating the use of controlled substances which are the only hollow words of their performance.

2. Faith No More - "Epic"

The most bizarre, well-played, and rocking song on the list is "Epic." Mike Patton takes a break from screaming ,"What is it?" to punch a shirtless Hitler mannequin. One can only wonder what the night's other guests, Wayne Gretzky and the guy who played the Equalizer, thought of the performance.

1. A Tribe Called Quest - "Scenario"

Perhaps the best rap performance ever captured by a television camera. As the members of Tribe and their guests, Leaders of the New School, brings the crowd to their feet with each rapper outdoing the emcee before him until Busta Rhymes takes the mike and throws the perhaps out of the statement.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland