Late-Night TV Music (Pleasant Surprise Edition) | Jan. 14, 2020

Scarypoolparty shakes up the airwaves while the Pumas and Shaed play it safe.

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In this deranged pageant of chaos and horror that we laughably call society, there are good surprises and bad surprises. Not in equal measure, of course. By my conservative estimate, 99.9% of surprises are bad. Thankfully, Tuesday’s late-night TV antics inadvertently spat up a rare good one. Well, two, actually — in the form of a pair of compelling performances by an oddball who calls himself Scarypoolparty. His real name is apparently Alejandro Aranda, he’s a singer-songwriter and keyboard player, and (speaking of surprises) he was once an American Idol runner-up, if you can believe anything you read online. But none of that means anything. What matters is that his renditions of Beneath the Skin and Millennial Love (from his recent album Exit Form, which I’m going to have to go find) on Jimmy Kimmel Live were more interesting than most of the crowdpleasing fluff and risk-free filler that passes for televised entertainment these days. You don’t have to take my word for it (though really, you should). See for yourself: Watch Aranda and his bandmates bashing and thrashing around, then check out the competition. Like the predictably predictable Austin hipster outfit Black Pumas, surprising no one with their garden-variety retro-soul number Colors on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Or electro-popster of the week Shaed, continuing to hawk her forgettable single Trampoline on The Late Late Show With James Corden with the help of some boxes that were more colourful than she’ll ever be. Or even megastars Coldplay, surprising absolutely nobody by playing Cry, Cry, Cry while sitting in the audience of today’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Feh.