Lady Gaga proved a remarkable sport during her stint last weekend on “Saturday Night Live,” doubling as host and musical guest, appearing in most of the evening’s skits, ranging from a nerdy Apple Genius to an elderly version of herself, from an anxious parent at a school talent contest mimicking frantically coaching her child to a would-be cover artist performing “Express Yourself,” a take-off on the song’s similarities to her own “Born This Way.” All that in addition to performing a salacious duet with R. Kelly, “Do What U Want” and a soaring rendition of “Gypsy,” two songs from her new “Artpop” album, on piano and guitar.
Throughout ‘SNL’’s 39-year history, there have been plenty of hosts who doubled as musical guests, from the very first, Desi Arnaz, who performed with his son Desi Arnaz, Jr., to Miley Cyrus, who just did the honors several weeks ago. In between, Justin Timberlake established himself as an impressive two-way threat, while the likes of the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Hammer, Sting, Garth Brooks, Britney Spears, Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber have all turned this particular double play.
Here’s a list of the 10 most memorable guest host/musical guest stints on “SNL”:
Justin Timberlake (Season 32, Episode 9, Dec. 17, 2006): The ex-NSYNC star proved a surprising multi-talent capable of poking fun at himself, crooning “The Christmas Song” with Alvin and the Chipmunks, featuring Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg, but the highlight was his version of “Dick in a Box” with Samberg, which became a viral sensation.
Frank Zappa (Season 4, Episode 3, Oct. 21, 1978): Zappa was legendarily unpopular with the cast and crew in both the rehearsals and taping, reportedly because of his disapproval of their la attitude towards drugs and alcohol consumption. He frequently blows lines and makes clear he is reading from cue cards during the sketch, “Night on Freak Mountain,” with Paul Shaffer as Do Kirschner. He and the band perform “Dancin’ Fool,” “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing” and the instrumental “Rolo,” with John Belushi, in character as Samurai Futaba, joining them on the latter, singing into mic duct-taped to the body of an electric guitar.
The Rolling Stones (Season 4, Episode 1, Oct. 7, 1978): Mick Jagger is interviewed by Dan Aykroyd as Tom Snyder, while Ron Wood and Charlie Watts appear in an Olympic Café sketch The band performs three songs from their then-new album Some Girls—“Beast of Burden,” “Respectable” and “Shattered.”
Ray Charles (Season 3, Episode 5, Nov. 12, 1977): Charles explains what “SNL” had to do to convince him to do the show, convincing him he was doing it from Carnegie Hall, and sits in with Da Aykroyd’s Tom Snyder. Garrett Morris’ Ella Fitzgerald tries to fool Charles into thinking the voice recording on a Memorex audiotape is really her, while asking him to listen to a back-u group who call themselves the Young Caucasians. Charles foils a pair of burglars (Morris, Dan Aykroyd) who try to rob him in his motel room when the lights go out. Ray performs “I Can See Clearly Now,” “What’d I Say” and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” along with a medley of hits.
Paul Simon (Season 2, Episode 8, Nov. 20, 1976): Memorable mainly for Simon’s performance of “Still Crazy After All These Years” in a turkey suit (note the Thanksgiving date) and his duet wit George Harrison on “Here Comes the Sun” and “Homeward Bound.”
Britney Spears (Season 25, Episode 19, May 13, 2000): The pop star was just 13 when she made her first of two appearances in the dual role, this time making fun of her reputation for lip-synching and her supposed fake boobs. Spears also playys a Mickey Mouse Club reject, a milk maiden at a colonial museum and has a romantic interlude in a sewer with Tracy Morgan’s Woodrow th homeless bum. In another sketch, Chris Kattan and Chris Parnell perform bad dance moves while auditioning for Britney, who performs “Oops… I Did It Again” and “Don’t Let Me Be the Last to Know.”
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Janet Jackson (Season 29, Episode 17, April 10, 2004): Janet plays Condoleeza Rice to Darrell Hammond’s Dick Cheney in the cold open, then delivers a monologue which includes hom movie footage of the Jackson 5, whose names she claims to have forgotten. There are also references to her famed wardrobe malfunction, a stint as a zookeeper who Tracy Morgan imagines havin a tryst with, a portrayal of Paula Abdul posing for a painting by Prince (Fred Armisen), and performances of “All Nite (Don’t Stop)” and “Strawberry Bounce.”
Taylor Swift (Season 35, Episode 5, Nov. 7, 2009): Showing some impressive comic chops, Swift plays a convict with a short temper, Kate Gosselin and opens with a hilarious self-parody, “The Monologue Song,” in which she declares, “I like writing songs about douchebags who cheat on me.” Swift also delivered expert performances of “You Belong to Me” and “Forever and Always.”
Bruno Mars (Season 38, Episode 5, Oct. 20, 2012): Proving a versatile double-threat, Mars wowed with a segment where he did a quick-cutting mimic as a Pandora employee forced into impersonating several different singers, including Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Michael Jackson and Billie Joe Armstrong, a surprisingly poignant turn in a sad mouse costume walking in Times Square and dressing up in hoochie-girl drag. He also chipped in with fine performances of “Knocked Out of Heaven” and “Young Girls”
Mick Jagger (Season 37, Episode 22, May 19, 2012): The Rolling Stone front man shows his sense of humor by being a closeted gay, an introverted insurance salesman forced to do karaoke after he’s one-upped by Fred Armisen’s impression of him, a bank spokesman. There are also four musical performances, one apiece with Arcade Fire (“The Last Time”), Foo Fighters (“19th Nervous Breakdown” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”) and Jeff Beck (“Tea Party”). For Kristen Wiig’s final show, the entire cast joins in on “She’s a Rainbow.”