For any host that’s willing, Saturday Night Live has often acted as a passive aggressive platform to address the 24-hour news cycle that’s currently circling a particular host. For Lady Gaga this hasn’t been the year that Interscope records were hoping for. While her album numbers are fantastic for anyone else, according to reports her record label took out $25 million dollars for promotion, and lost a lot of cash due to the underwhelming reception of Gaga’s new Artpop album. Couple that with losing in her market to a more pop-friendly Katy Perry, with harsh reviews for her polarizing album, and Gaga definitely had a bit to address.
Lady Gaga and Saturday Night Live always seemed to be a match made in performance heaven. The “Applause” artist wears her hometown of New York proudly, which just so happens to be where SNL is based out of. Like SNL, Gaga isn’t afraid to make fun of herself, and exaggerate her best and questionable qualities for a good laugh. Unlike her pop rivals, Gaga knows a thing or two about performing for an audience that’s based more in the “theater geek chic” that SNL plays up to when the right host is placed in their hands.
Last night Lady Gaga played up the tongue-in-cheek side of her sense of humor as she made the audience aware that she would do anything for their “applause.” Her opening took in the form of a fantastic jazz-inspired number, which came with more than a few personal winks from Gaga. The number showed off her showmanship and set the tone for the rest of the night. Unlike some hosts, Gaga was willing to work for the applause and during some of the skits it was at her own expense.
Calling back to the Molly Shannons and Cheri O’teris of the 90s golden years of SNL, Lady Gaga proved that a little flailing around and crazy character antics went a long way for a laugh. Some highlights include “Spotlights Acting Camp 101” which saw Gaga back in her theater roots as a try-hard child actor, complete with screaming, lisps and arms spread wide for “effect.” Gaga’s best sketch that called from her wonky antics came out of “Talent Pageant” which saw the performer as one half of an over-enthusiastic couple, as they cheered on their precious daughter, while pulling out all the works, which eventually turns out to be a strip tease of sorts in front of a whole assembly of horrified parents.
Her other notable sketch goes back to the story that’s been circling Gaga since she arrived on the pop scene. With Madonna always quick to criticize Lady Gaga, the hit at the “Express Yourself” singer came fairly early on in the night as was expected. It was during a pretty amusing sketch called “Worst Covers Ever” which saw “Britney Spears” moaning a head splitting cover of “Hallelujah.” When Counting Crows’ “Adam Durtiz” introduced Lady Gaga, the artist was set to cover Madonna’s “Express Yourself” but instead played up the one-sided rivalry by singing her song “Born This Way” to allude that the two songs are one in the same. It was an easy hit but one that definitely got a laugh.
Another sketch seemed to be aimed at Gaga’s critics who are claiming that her career is all but over after her lackluster new release. This skit saw her 20 years in the future as the so-called “has been” that no one can remember. Opposite Keenan Thompson’s repair man, Gaga resembles a Floridian Andy Warhol in her sparkly “old geezer” suit, as she tries to jog Thompson’s memory by performing some of her old songs, that just haven’t held up over the years. Her best claim to fame? Singing “Telephone” with the one and only Beyonce, who by then seems to hold Tina Turner status.
While Lady Gaga didn’t carry most of the skits due to time restraints, we fortunately didn’t get a full episode of the singer playing herself. The writers found a way to utilize Lady Gaga’s strengths while giving us something new. Of course the only thing most media outlets will remember for its sheer ridiculousness was her first performance of the night with crooner R. Kelly. The two performed the song “Do What U Want” off of Artpop, but looked more like Lady Gaga was playing a caricature of herself, as she gyrated and mauled a very aloof R. Kelly. The highlight from this performance was the interaction between the two, as it seemed like Gaga was hellbent on getting down and dirty with R. Kelly, who looked like he was unaware that he was on Saturday Night Live. Her second performance of the night “Gypsy” was considerably toned down, and showed off Gaga’s vocals as she took to the piano.
Overall we wouldn’t mind seeing Lady Gaga return to Saturday Night Live to beg for our applause.