Last month, Seth Meyers traveled down the halls of 30 Rock, moving from Studio 8H where he served as a cast member on SNL for nearly a decade to Studio 8G for his new gig as the host of the Late Show. Whether you love him or hate him (and there’s plenty of reasons for either sentiment), there’s no denying that Meyers had some pretty hefty shoes to fill in taking over for Jimmy Fallon.
More than the comedic segments or the star power of guests, it’s basically a fact that Fallon all but dominated the late-night game when it came to musical performances. Not only did he bring in the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Justin Timberlake, among others, but he’s continuing the trend over at The Tonight Show.
Sure, Meyers has already snagged both Kanye West and The Hold Steady in less than a month, but how can he compete when an ordinary day at Fallon features Billy freakin’ Joel. Solution: by making music less of a focus.
As Billboard points out, Meyers and his producers are “imposing a formal limit” of just two musical performances per week. This format is used by just one other late-night host, CBS’ Craig Ferguson; for comparison, Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman each book four acts per week.
So, why the sudden reduction? On the one hand, it’s ratings. While the show’s premiere week, which featured sets by West, Brad Paisley, and A Great Big World, drew in 2.7 million viewers, it felt substantially to 2.1 million viewers for week two. (Lil Jon served as sole musical guest.) Once again, for comparison’s sake, this week alone saw Fallon draw in 4.26 million viewers, with Kimmel and Letterman coming in a distant second and third with 2.83 and 2.78 million viewers, respectively (via Variety).
On the other hand, sources close to the bookers on Late Night with Seth Meyers say the show is merely playing to Meyers’ ability as a more news-savvy comedian. “Music is kind of limited on Seth right now,” one major label source told Billboard. “He’s known for (Weekend) Update and having more of a focus on political humor and news commentary, so they’re playing to his strengths.” In fact, they originally were going to utilize a DJ before the idea of Fred Armisen and The 8G Band came together at the very last minute.
If nothing else, the show will always be able to tout having that amazing Kanye West career medley. Replay it below: