Don’t you just love the smell of corporate synergy in the morning?
Perhaps that’s an unfair statement. Country star Blake Shelton’s status as The Voice’s top dog—he’s one of only two celebrity coaches to appear on every season of the series, and his contestants have won the competition’s big prize a whopping four out of seven times—certainly isn’t the only reason he’s been tapped to serve as Saturday Night Live’s host and musical guest tonight.
Anyone who’s tuned in for even a single Voice episode knows that Shelton’s more than a country singer. His easygoing, down-home charm and likable banter with his fellow coaches—especially Adam Levine, who was tapped to pull double duty on SNL himself two years ago—both made Shelton the hit show’s breakout star and indicate that he’d be more than comfortable in a variety show setting. See also: Shelton’s 2012 holiday special, Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, the highlight of which is a claymation sketch that finds the host and his pal Larry the Cable Guy accidentally murdering Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
But wait: There’s also more comedy on Shelton’s resume. He’s a frequent late-night guest, particularly on his home network’s franchises—and through those visits, Shelton has proven that he knows how to fully commit to a bit, no matter how silly it may be. The best example is probably this Tonight Show clip, in which Shelton teams with Jimmy Fallon, Nick Offerman, and Tonight writer Chris Tartaro to perform a cover of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey”… while dressed in giant chicken suits. Oh, and instead of singing, they cluck.
So yeah—if all goes well, Shelton could very well crush it tonight, and not just on the musical stage. If so, he’d join a proud tradition of country singers who’ve proven to be surprisingly nimble when pulling double duty on SNL, including Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, and some percentage of Miley Cyrus. (In fact, one could argue that country crooners tend to do better on average than pop stars when tapped for Saturday Night Live—maybe because country is an inherently theatrical genre, or because it’s a type of music that traditionally prizes lyrical cleverness over musical production and sex appeal. Oh, and for the purposes of this hypothetical argument, Timberlake doesn’t count.)
Either way, we can expect to see Shelton’s episode feature numerous jokes about rednecks, the NFL’s ridiculous Deflate-Gate scandal (which has “cold open” written all over it), the State of the Union address (and President Obama’s cheeky wink), American Sniper (and the controversy surrounding it), and Adam Levine. P.S. If Levine doesn’t turn up for a cameo himself tonight, I will eat Pharrell’s hat.
What are you hoping to see from Blake Shelton on Saturday Night Live—both on the musical stage and off it? Discuss here, and meet us back in the morning for a full recap.