When musicians step into the slapdash world of children’s television, the results tend to range between hilarious and disastrous. Here are 15 times when musicians have popped up in kids TV shows, and all the chaos and LOLs that ensued…
The Smiths and Sandie Shaw – SPLAT
“Where are we going?” a little girl asks Morrissey on Charlie’s Bus. “We’re all going mad,” he replies. “I thought we were going to Kew Gardens,” she nonchalantly fires back. The moody Mancs settle down on the grass with the children to listen to another special guest, Sandie Shaw, singing depress-athon ‘Jeane’ to the kids. Ah, the 1980s. This is worth it for the Smiths’ explanation of their band name alone.
Slash – CD:UK
Slash caused quite a stir when he appeared on CD:UK in 2000. Cat Deeley, superstar of children’s TV at the time, remained remarkably calm when the Guns N’ Roses guitar master candidly revealed the most ridiculous rumour he’d ever heard about himself – that he’d received a blow job in a bar – to which she responded, “let’s move onto the email questions, shall we?” Unfortunately these elicited a story about his rhino iguana, which had “turned around and bit the fuck out of me.” Priceless.
Debbie Harry – The Muppet Show
“I dig songs about rainbows,” says the Blondie star, before being forced into singing Kermit’s one, ‘The Rainbow Connection’. Her mock-acting is frank and funny, and for a kids’ TV performance she certainly hasn’t skimped on the vocals. Pity the duet’s with Kermit, really.
The Who – Tiswas
Compost Corner – the chaotic and supposedly gardening-focussed segment of Saturday morning slog Tiswas – once put The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Kenny Jones in green ‘flower’ leotards, before they got covered in gunge by Chris Tarrant, Lenny Henry and Sally James. They’re still covered in the stuff in the jarringly serious interview that follows, before breaking into song at the end. And it just about works.
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Iggy Pop – No 73
In 1986, Iggy Pop thought it’d be a good idea to dry-hump a giant teddy bear live on TV, during his performance of ‘Real Wild Child’ on No 73. Although it wasn’t exactly out of character – most people found it pretty funny – his antics freaked out TV producers, making it difficult for him to get time on TV later on to promote his album ‘Blah Blah Blah’.
The Killers – Yo Gabba Gabba
“Let’s go on a spaceship adventure with Brandon, Ronnie, Mark and Dave!” That’s how the kids are introduced to The Killers’ cheesy but ultimately impressive musical clip for American show Yo Gabba Gabba, whose ‘Super Music Friends Show’ segment has previously featured everyone from Solange to Of Montreal. Brandon and co kill it though.
Public Image Ltd on American Bandstand
John Lydon is missing for the majority of this 1980 performance, shirking his lip-syncing duties in favour of getting the teenage crowd on their feet, wandering through them cheerily, and then orchestrating a stage invasion. Naturally, it goes down a storm.
Captain Sensible – Saturday Superstore
If you’re appearing on kids’ television, it’s probably not the best idea to turn up steaming drunk. Captain Sensible does just this, on 80s UK kids’ show Saturday Superstore – and after slurring through an interview, he starts singing from the top of a wobbly chair before falling to the floor. He’s no role model, but whichever way you slice it, you have to admit he’s a brave guy.
Peter Freddie & The Dreamers – Blue Peter
There exists an alternate version of this ruthlessly cheesy video, in which Harry Enfield’s character Dave Nice jigs his way in and out of the 60s video. It almost makes it a shame that no one dances like this any more. Almost.
Ice Cube – Sesame Street
Yep, Ice Cube – badass of NWA and 21 Jump Street – is here to teach kids what “astounding” means. He makes a coin disappear (astounding), makes a baby dinosaur appear from a hat (astounding), and then turns himself into an actual ice cube (totally astounding).
Weezer – Yo Gabba Gabba
Weezer are a weirdly good choice for Yo Gabba Gabba, singing their original composition ‘All My Friends Are Insects’ dressed as various creepy crawlies. If there’s a better 90-second song to teach kids about the attributes and importance of arthropods, we haven’t seen it – at least not one featuring a praying mantis on the drums.
Westlife’s Bryan – SMTV Live
Not strictly a musical performance, this. It features Ant and Dec as a Pokemon’s Gary and Misty, who have a weird turn-based, Pokemon-style fight. It sounds lame, but it works because they really commit to their characters – especially when Gary uses his secret weapon, Westlife’s Bryan, on Dec’s Misty, and she totally loses her shit.
Ed Sheeran – Sesame Street
Rarely has a performer looked quite so endearingly nervous on Sesame Street. This rendition of ‘Two Different Worlds’ – which outlines the important differences between school and home life – has him getting involved in some very basic dance moves along with the puppets, but every time he has to follow the routine, you can see him dying a little inside.
Matt Bianco – Saturday Superstore
Who is this Simon Roberts character? So cool, so calm, so cold. In 1984 he called a kids show – Saturday Superstore – to talk to ‘sophisti-pop’ band Matt Bianco. “Hello,” he says cheerily. “Hello,” the band replies. The scene is set for a genial conversation between band and fan. Instead, he turns on them, but it’s not even vicious. You can hear him smiling as he informs them, matter of fact, that they are “a bunch of wankers.”
Five Star – Going Live!
Has a caller on British TV ever been as vociferous as Eliot Fletcher? He called Five Star during their appearance on Saturday morning kids’ TV to tell the RnB group that they were “fucking crap”, before being hastily cut off. It makes us wonder: did they even vet callers back then? And, come to think of it, was it really necessary to have five separate phones for five different people? Bravo 1989: you were a simpler, and simultaneously more complicated time.