AURORA and Mike Posner Deliver Emotional Tonight Show Performances

    Aurora and Mike Posner both performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week, and both blew me away.

    This past week, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was BLESSED with, what might be TWO of my favorite live musical performances in some time—19 year old Norwegian songstress AURORA, and 28-year-old singer/songwriter Mike Posner. As we all know, televised live performances can be tricky to pull off and don’t always work out in the artist’s favor. Whether it’s a case of “technical difficulties,” nerves or something else, pulling off the PERFECT live performance is easier said than done. That being said, it’s still important that an artist makes a good impression, especially as a new artist, or in Posner’s case—an artist on the verge of a massive comeback. For both AURORA and Mike Posner, Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show is the perfect platform. Jimmy’s show is currently at the head of the “Late Night” pack and landing a performance slot on his show is an important “GET,” both for the artist and her or his publicist and label.

    First up to the stage, a sweet little soul by the name of AURORA, who Fallon was fortunate enough to have on making her live U.S. television debut. Her appearance coincides with the release of her debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, out now on Decca Records/Glassnote Records (iTunes / Spotify / Amazon). AURORA first piqued my curiosity when I saw her on the lineup for the New Shapes showcase during CMJ 2014. Unfortunately, technical difficulties prevented me from catching MOST of her set but I managed to catch the final song of her short set, “Under Stars” and was instantly smitten. AURORA‘s ethereal vocals fit ever-so-nicely with the cool synthpop beats and engaging lyrical storytelling. Last Monday night, AURORA stopped by The Tonight Show to perform “Conqueror,” off her new album and she absolutely KILLED it. During her performance, AURORA manifested into a bundle energy, emanating pure joy and happiness. As Fallon joined the young singer on stage after a seemingly exhausting and spontaneous little dance number, he exuberantly shook her hand, “that’s what you want right there,” a couple of times before delivering her one last plug. From the looks of it, Fallon (and the cheering live television audience) weren’t the only ones bowled over with childlike giddiness after seeing AURORA perform, as the pint sized pop singer appears to have a new fan in Troye Sivan.

    My other favorite performance this week came from Mike Posner—an artist I’ve been rooting for recently. Admittedly, I came on board with Mike Posner back when his major label debut single, “Cooler Than Me” first hit. It wasn’t until I started writing about him on my blog that I learned about his Duke University days, making music out of his dorm and of course his mixtapes and subsequent fanbase. Personally, I was a fan of his debut, 30 Minutes To Take Off. The album has some quality bops, “Please Don’t Go,” for instance, and “Bow Chicka Wow Wow.” “Cooler Than Me” is still very bop-able, and there’s also something to be said for some of the album’s non-singles—songs like “Deja Vu,” featuring Boyz II Men and “Do U Wanna?” which includes an unexpected Ray LaMontagne sample.  The album was the perfect sort of pop-R&B-hip hop-electronic hybrid album, boasting production from the likes of Gigamesh, Benny Blanco, The Smeezingtons, Greg Kurstin and others. After subsequent singles failed to match the success of “Cooler Than Me,” however (the song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100) Posner seemed to drop off the face of the musical map. Sure, there were occasional one-off releases and guest features but nothing really stuck. MY MY MY, how quickly things can change in a few years. Here we are, 6 years after the release of his debut and Mike Posner has a new record deal (THIS time, with Island Records), a new single in the Top 10 (“I Took A Pill In Ibiza“) and a new album on the way (All Night, Alone, May 6th). This reads to me like the ULTIMATE comeback story, and I couldn’t be happier for the guy.

    Mike Posner made his return to The Tonight Show stage this past Friday, after having previously performed there back in 2010 before the release of his debut album. Stopping by to perform “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” his current No. 10 hit on the Hot 100 chart, Posner delivered humor, emotion AND talent. I love this performance for a number of reasons—one being the live arrangement, which is a cross between the acoustic version that appears on his EP, The Truth (iTunes / Spotify) and the remix by Norwegian production duo, SeeB (AKA the version that landed him at No. 10 on the Hot 100 this past week). Backed by The Roots and including a MEAN saxophone bit, I would actually quite enjoy a studio recording of this version (singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow agrees, apparently). Another reason this performance touched me—seeing how real it was for Posner himself. By the end of the song, he was in tears. That made me feel a certain way, and, once again—I wasn’t alone. Hell, it made Savage Garden frontman (and amazing solo artist) Darren Hayes cry! This performance also felt special because I literally just saw Mike Posner perform live earlier in the week, playing a sold out show at Webster Hall‘s 600-capacity Marlin Room. By the end of that show (and a couple of times in the middle of it), the singer/songwriter became visibly emotional. It was clear to me just how grateful he is to his fans, and more generally to second chances. “I’m just a singer who already blew his shot,” he sings in “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” but in Posner’s case, he’s been given a second chance and he sure as hell isn’t taking this new-found love and adoration for granted. Mike Posner recently sat down with Idolator to discuss his past, present and future in a new interview—very well done and definitely worth a read. The Truthremix EP is available now (iTunes / Spotify)