Rah rah ah ah ah, roma roh mah mah, Gaga oo la la — who’s excited for SNL tonight?
By inviting Lady Gaga to serve as host and musical guest just six weeks after Miley Cyrus did the same, Saturday Night Live inadvertently invites a comparison to last season — which saw Justin Timberlake taking the show’s reigns four weeks after Justin Bieber performed double-duty. The analogy isn’t perfect, of course: Bieber had never hosted the show before, though Cyrus had. And while Timberlake is an old hosting pro, Gaga’s previous appearances were nominally as musical guest only — though she has performed in a handful of sketches over the years.
But Bieber is to Timberlake as Cyrus is to Gaga in that the first party in each equation is a younger, provocative, multitalented upstart trying to retread ground that’s already been paved by the elder party. When Timberlake hosted SNL so soon after Bieber had, JT’s triumphant outing stood in sharp contrast to the other Justin’s — which was a mixed bag at best and an exercise in smugness at worst.
It’s unlikely that Gaga’s first episode as host will make Cyrus’s suffer in comparison in exactly the same way, mostly because Miley is a much better SNL host than Bieber. It will, however, be interesting to see whether Gaga is as game as Cyrus was, and as willing to mock herself — because if anything will sink Gaga on SNL, it’ll be an aura of self-importance. (Please, for everyone’s sake: Leave the pretentious art talk at home for one night.)
It’ll also be interesting to see how Gaga’s musical numbers compare to those we’ve already seen on SNL this season. In the past, she’s elected mostly big, splashy, prop-filled performance pieces that helped her make a stage name for herself:
But thanks to recent musical guests like Katy Perry and Arcade Fire, the bar for Saturday Night Live performance theatricality has already been set pretty high. Gaga may actually do better to take the lead of Cyrus, of all people, who impressed critics and fans alike by choosing simple setups that really allowed her vocals to shine. In doing that, of course, Cyrus was also echoing none other than Gaga, who did the same thing on SNL way back in 2009 — albeit while wearing a silver harness attached to a contraption that resembled Saturn’s rings.
What are you hoping to see from Lady Gaga tonight? Are you expecting shrewd self-awareness, an above-it-all attitude, or something in between? And do you, like me, believe that Gaga’s best bet is to aim for the same sweet spot that Anne Hathaway — another former theater kid turned big star — usually hits when she hosts? Discuss below, and check back tomorrow morning for a full recap.