There’s been some concern-trollish hand-wringing going on in certain quarters since word got out last fall that the Roots would be the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s new late-night show. Cool artists signing up for a safe, steady mainstream gig: Oh, the horror! Now, the Roots have been one of my favorite bands for years. I was a little dubious about their latest career decision, myself — especially when I read that their participation in the show might be limited to playing seconds-long “sandwiches” instead of actual Roots songs — but I’ve been trying hard to take a wait-and-see attitude about this. Now that Fallon’s been on the air for a week, though, it’s show-and-prove time.
The Fallon episodes I’ve caught this week have included some sweet musical moments, like when the Roots played a couple of songs with Ludacris last night. I’d think that was dope if I saw it at a Roots concert, and it’s still dope to see it on TV. More collabs like this with the guests du jour can only be a good thing. Meanwhile, they’ve also rocked at least one moderately LOL-worthy comedy bit, Monday night’s “Slow Jam the News” (below). I knew Black Thought could rap about literally anything with no preparation, but crooning seductively about the House stimulus package? Damn, Tariq!
That said, I’m still not 100 percent sold on Fallon as a late-night host. There were times when seeing this band reduced to his sidemen made me want to call up Jeff Zucker and tell him to just greenlight a TV show where the Roots sit there playing awesome jams from their albums for a full hour every night, already. It would be more entertaining than Fallon, I swear! But look: These guys have been on the road continuously for something close to 15years. They can’t live that life forever, even if I’d like them to, andI think they’ve earned the right to settle down however they want. If that means playing five-second intros and outros for Fallon’s interviewees, plus at least a few spotlight performances like the ones they got this week, I think I’m mostly okay with that. For now. Especially if they still make albums and do occasional concerts during gaps in Fallon’s TV shooting schedule. If they really become full-time TV sidekicks with no other public activities, though, all bets are off. How about you?