In all of the forced nostalgia and celebrity guest appearances during Saturday Night Live‘s 40th anniversary special, who would have thought that there’d be a genuine minimalist performance art musical number?
That’s exactly what we got with Kanye West’s performance, featuring Sia and Vic Mensa.
He begins laying down, on his back, a microphone hanging down above his lips, to perform “Jesus Walks.” He followed that up with “Only One,” his recent ode to his deceased mother and infant daughter, featuring piano from Paul McCartney (who was in attendance at #SNL40, though not on stage at the time).
He finished his brief medley with an excerpt from his newest song, “Wolves,” which was played briefly during West’s Adidas Originals livestream on Thursday, and fleshed out slightly more here. Sia (in full Sia wig) and Vic Mensa joined him, on the ground, singing more into the four feet of stage in front of them than to the audience, and looking only forward, while the rest of the 3 1/2 hour show looked backward.
It was a truly weird and oddly honest performance — West sounded like he cheered too loud at a sporting event before the show and had almost nothing left in his already-flawed voice but frogs and dry spit.
There was really nothing else like it on the show, and probably nothing else like it on television all week.