According to prevailing wisdom, all rock critics want to be rock stars. But there's another, quite prominent demographic of frustrated musicians out there -- one with the money, power, and screen time to basically build themselves a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp whenever they feel like it. This group is known as White Guys on Late-Night TV.
Yesterday, Jimmy Fallon performed Run-DMC's part of "Walk This Way" with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. It was OK -- less amusing than when he played one-half of '80s R&B duo Shazzazz with Gwyneth Paltrow, and far less entertaining than his History of Rap with Justin Timberlake, or the opening sequence of the Emmys, when he teamed up with the cast of "Glee" to cover Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." Don't forget, Fallon also grabbed the chance to sing with a Beatle, doing "Scrambled Eggs" with Paul McCartney last month. And he rapped with Biz Markie (and Jeff Goldblum, but let's not go there). That's not even counting his turns as "Neil Young." It's probably safe to say Jimmy Fallon enjoys singing as much as Gwyneth! And she loves to sing.
Conan O'Brien also likes to pal around with the rock stars on his show. A lot. You may recall Coco putting together a supergroup to wrap his final "Tonight Show," when he busted out "Free Bird" with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, and Beck. He kicked off his new TBS show by playing guitar with his pal Jack White. On his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television tour stop in New York, O'Brien jammed with Vampire Weekend. Backstage at "Conan," he did a little finger-picking with She & Him. Message sent: This guy likes to play guitar!
And then there's Andy Samberg, who is a member of an actual musical-comedy outfit, the Lonely Island, that releases albums of fully developed songs. But it's hard to name another "Saturday Night Live" cast member who's managed to get so tight with so many artists on the show (perhaps it helps that he's dating one). We love him rapping as Shy Ronnie with Rihanna, crooning about sex with Akon, and of course, extolling the virtues of mother-loving with Justin Timberlake. But don't you get the feeling he would trade places with JT in about two seconds? (Actually, Timberlake would probably love that idea -- we'll start writing the script and call John Landis right away.)