George Ezra, Saturday Night Live (March 28)
With his tousled bed-head and dreamy eyes, the 21-year-old Ezra sure looks like a pop star in the making, and his SNL debut demonstrated that he’s more than just a pretty package. The Brit aced his performance of breakout single “Budapest,” down to the falsetto “hoooys” that punctuate the song (who knows what they mean, but they’re irresistible). Props, too, to Ezra’s band, which backed him with beautiful precision.
Leon Bridges, The Late Late Show With James Corden (MARCH 25)
Bridges gave his retro R&B — which was already the talk of South by Southwest — a fitting throwback performance that was so Sam Cooke cool it was hot. Dressed in a smart suit and backed by a saxophone player spitting out Stax-style riffs, the Texas native danced subtly in place as he sang “Better Man” with a breezy soulfulness that had Corden repeatedly gushing, “That was so good!”
Brandon Flowers, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (March 23)
The Killers frontman’s new solo album is called The Desired Effect, and his adrenalized performance of the 1980s-sounding “Can’t Deny My Love” achieved just that. Showing off his Las Vegas roots and years of arena-performance experience, Flowers was as electric as the sparkly sport coat he wore, with his dramatic tenor firing on all cylinders.
Marina & The Diamonds, Late Night With Seth Meyers (March 25)
Like the wacky stepchild of Carmen Miranda, singer Marina Diamandis wore a glittery pair of cherries on her head as she sang her new single “Froot.” But that turned out to be the most interesting aspect of a flat performance. Although Diamandis’ deep voice and quirky trills work on the dance-ready studio version of this song, they sounded lackluster live.