5 Standout ‘Classroom Instruments’ Covers From The Tonight Show
Earlier this week, The Who joined The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and The Roots for an excellent rendition of their 1971 single “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Foregoing traditional instrumentation, the augmented band backed the Who’s Next track with instruments designed for children, marking the show’s latest installment in their ongoing series of musical clips played on classroom instruments.
In the last few years, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has hosted over a dozen “Classroom Instruments” sessions, following the segment’s debut in summer 2012 featuring Carly Rae Jepsen performing her breakthrough hit “Call Me Maybe.” For this week’s Sunday Cinema, here’s five choice performances featuring pop and rock stars (and more) reimagining their fan-favorite hits.
Weezer – “Take On Me”
At the start of 2019, Weezer surprised fans with the digital release of The Teal Album, a new record featuring 10 genre- and decade-spanning covers. When Weezer appeared on The Tonight Show a month after the LP’s debut, the California alt-rockers drew from its tracklist, offering up a rendition of the 1985 A-ha hit, “Take On Me.” Clad in the pastel tones of the ’80s (and Fallon and frontman Rivers Cuomo sporting era-appropriate hair-dos), Weezer, The Roots and Fallon gracefully moved through the cover, all while backed by a Casio keyboard, melodica, kazoos, a technicolor xylophone, ukelele, toy piano and a variety of percussion instruments.
Metallica – “Enter Sandman”
In November 2016, Fallon welcomed heavy metal icons Metallica to join him and The Roots for a “Classroom Instruments” session. A particularly delightful performance, the collective offered up an inspired take on their massively popular 1991 single “Enter Sandman.” Given the rockers’ harder image, it was delightful to watch the lighthearted rendition of the grinding, ominous hit, particularly given the enthusiasm from James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo.
Sesame Street Muppets – “Sesame Street” Theme
In 2013, The Tonight Show hosted the cast of Sesame Street. In keeping with the long-running program’s kid-friendly and educational theme, Fallon and The Roots led a crew of muppets — including Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Big Bird, The Count and others — in performing the Sesame Street theme song with instruments more familiar to children. A major highlight of the video also includes a fiery verse from The Roots rapper Black Thought, who offers a brilliant rap highlighting the various muppets on hand.
Mariah Carey – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
After The Tonight Show debuted in summer 2012, Fallon and company returned their classroom instruments for a special holiday segment of the series. In a spacious hall with decked with Christmas decorations, Mariah Carey surprised viewers with a rendition of her 1994 smash cover. To add to the charm of the performance, the video also includes four kids who pop in and out of the frame to assist on harmonies.
Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”
Last fall, Aerosmith guested on The Tonight Show to perform a rendition of their 1975 classic “Walk This Way.” With fourteen musicians crammed into the frame, the clip features Steven Tyler, who leads the vocals and plays both harmonica and two apple shakers, alongside Fallon on a drum. Though the performance is more chaotic than other installments, the clip is particularly high-energy.