Performing on Saturday Night Live is a milestone for musicians in any genre, as it’s a moment in history that will be looked back on for years to come.
For decades, some of the biggest artists of the time have taken the SNL stage, and most take the opportunity to give a memorable performance.
And for all of the amazing performances on the show, there are just as many that were totally unexpected and caught the viewers off guard, both in good and bad ways.
We decided to look back on 10 of the most unexpected musical moments in SNL history—the good, the bad and the downright weird.
Sum 41 and Ludacris
The mid-2000s were truly a time that didn’t make sense, which can be seen with all of the weird mashup performances during awards shows, music festivals and of course SNL. Let’s remember when Sum 41 and Ludacris, for some reason, joined forces to perform a rock version of the rapper’s “Get Back” in 2005. Their rehearsals for the show were the first time the two musical forces met, but it was a match made in heaven. And honestly, they nailed the performance despite it being off the cuff.
Phoebe Bridgers’ guitar smash
Phoebe Bridgers‘ SNL performance caused a considerable amount of “controversy” when she emulated her musical predecessors by smashing a guitar onstage during the finale to “I Know The End.” Thankfully, the Grammy-nominated star had the best response to serve back to the haters and hopefully will return to SNL to do it again one day.
In the 2018 sketch “Cut For Time: Wedding Toast,” Jack White plays guitar to accompany the most ridiculous wedding toast of all time. The White Stripes multi-instrumentalist takes photos with guests who are fans, and his surprise appearance truly made the moment.
Back in 1984, Spinal Tap made waves by appearing on SNL to promote the film because they aren’t even a real band. The production was crazy, particularly when they performed “Christmas With The Devil” in a Christmas-themed set. The original members David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) could fool anyone into thinking they’re veteran rockers after this set.
Dave Grohl in “Punk Band Reunion At The Wedding”
This hilarious sketch features Foo Fighters‘ Dave Grohl, Ashton Kutcher, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader reuniting as their former punk band Crisis Of Conformity. The group channel their inner anarchical punk tendencies in this sketch that never fails to make us laugh.
Green Day featuring Will Ferrell
Green Day‘s performance of “East Jesus Nowhere” erupts into hilarity when actor Will Ferrell joins them to play cowbell. At the end of the track, he interrupts Billie Joe Armstrong to ask if the song is “still going on,” which makes Armstrong and the audience laugh out loud. Honestly, we’d love to see this onstage reunion again one day.
Nirvana makeout sesh
You couldn’t forget Nirvana’s iconic two appearances on SNL even if you tried. Back in 1992, Kurt Cobain (donning pink hair), Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic gave a punk-rock performance complete with gear smashing. Then during the end credits, the trio share a three-way French kiss that’s definitely one of the show’s most memorable moments.
During her 2019 SNL appearance, Halsey demonstrated both her music and fine arts prowess when she completed a self-portrait onstage while singing “Eastside.” Did we mention she also painted the whole thing upside down and also played double duty as host that night? Truly, there’s nothing she can’t do, and this performance proves it.
Rage Against The Machine get banned
Honestly, SNL couldn’t have Rage Against The Machine be the musical guests and expect them not to make a statement. And to make matters worse, billionaire and then-presidential candidate Steve Forbes hosted alongside the band. In retaliation, they hung a pair of upside-down American flags from their amplifiers, which were removed by a stagehand, before playing “Bulls On Parade.” However, they ended up getting their set cut short. Of course on the way out, bassist Tim Commerford cut up one of the American flags and threw it at Forbes’ entourage to have the last laugh. Needless to say, they were banned from the show.
FEAR’s onstage riot
And who could forget the time a punk-rock band caused $200,000 worth of damages and were slapped with a lifetime ban from SNL after their 1981 performance? Appropriately, FEAR performed during a Halloween episode, which featured a massive mosh pit that seriously got out of hand.