Several musicians have used the Saturday Night Live stage as an opportunity to showcase depth in their personalities. It’s where we learned Justin Timberlake, Drake, Miley Cyrus, and Bruno Mars could be funny and had more to offer than pop songs. Justin Timberlake is now such an institution at SNL that sometimes he hosts and doesn’t even perform music.
So, maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ariana Grande doubled as a great SNL host. Musicians’ jobs are literally to perform in front of people, and in many cases—Timberlake, Drake, Cyrus, and Grande included—they’ve also had careers as child actors, setting them up for success in Studio 8H.
It also helps that Saturday Night Live has found its groove this season. (Yes, it’s true.) Everyone’s quick to pile on SNL when there are new cast members and the show is going through growing pains, but slow to realize when they're is putting out solid episodes. SNL doesn’t always thrive when it has a talented host, but they put a solid enough show around Ariana Grande to highlight her considerable range.
Below are some of the show’s highlights:
Ariana saves Tidal.
LOL, it’s funny because no one can save Tidal. Was that not the joke? SNL brought back its incredible showcase for Bruno Mars (where he saved Pandora by doing uncanny impressions of Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Billy Joe Armstrong) and retrofits the sketch for Ariana, who crushes it. Outside of her borderline shady impression of Rihanna, her imitations of Britney Spears and Shakira are eerily accurate, while her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” is stunning.
FeministNot A Feminist Song.
The women of SNL have a pretty spotless track record when it comes to parody songs (twin bed, anyone?), and this song is no exception. They set out to write a feminist song, but find it was too difficult—and spend the rest of the song explaining why it’s not a feminist song, while going through lengths to make sure they don’t offend anyone and accidentally spur a backlash. (Judging by the tweets with the hashtag #FeministSong, I think they’re safe.)
Ariana does J.Law on Celebrity Family Feud.
This is a recurring sketch that theoretically should always work better than it actually plays out, as Kenan Thompson’s Steve Harvey is pretty unimpeachable at this point. However, the show always blows so much time introducing all the celebrities that there’s usually not much time left for the rest of the sketch, leaving it to end abruptly without much logic. (In Celebrity Jeopardy, Alex Trebek would at least jump to Final Jeopardy out of frustration.) Ariana actually steals this one from the SNL cast, as no one’s ever made fun of Jennifer Lawrence this way before, and her impression is pretty damning.
Hillary's starting to sound more like Bernie...
Larry David’s not the only one with a killer Bernie Sanders impression. Watch Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton as she begins to incorporate more of Bernie’s message into her platform, until, well, she literally starts to become Bernie Sanders.
Blobfish mermaid? Blobfish mermaid.
This is just a classic SNL sketch. Three sailors are thrown overboard and saved by mermaids, only one is 65% blobfish, one of the world’s ugliest animals. (Who else but Kate McKinnon? She's on fire.)
Chaos at the Kids' Choice Awards.
This sketch shows that all you need is a simple idea—awards show red carpet hosts introducing a ceremony that never starts—to be funny. There’s not much to this one, but Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer’s insane faces as they desperately try to kick off the Nick Kids’ Choice Awards are worth the price of admission alone. (Note: Nickelodeon and MTV are both owned by Viacom.) Plus, Ariana dabs.