Rihanna was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live last night and bucked the show’s conventions by insisting on singing her new single “Diamonds” in front of a green screen rather than on the usual stage setup for musical guests. The imagery behind Rihanna – a psychedelic swirl of waves, color patterns, dolphins, palm trees, and other stuff straight out of a screensaver circa 1995 – was disorienting, but mainly because it was so out of place. Even though she was there with musicians, it didn’t seem “live,” and looked more like something from cable access – or more accurately, a parody of cable access, like Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!.
Rihanna also debuted a new ballad called “Stay,” but with the traditional musical guest staging. This at least verified that she had actually showed up to the studio, and didn’t just tell Lorne Michaels “Oh, if I’m running a bit late, just play this VHS tape…”