Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Tonight Miley Cyrus will do her best to win over Saturday Night Live's critical crowd, taking on hosting and musical guest duties while — hopefully — keeping her tongue firmly planted in her cheeks. This is actually Miley's second time at the helm; she also hosted in 2011, but that was pre-VMAs, pre-front-thong, pre-Sinead-open-letters, and pre-massive-cultural-moment. A lot could happen tonight. Miley could wow us. She could blow us away with her untapped comedy stylings and win over a few new followers to her movement (though, we're not totally sure what that is). Or, she could pull a total Bieber move and just be utterly mediocre (we can't really imagine this option).
There's a long line of pop stars that have taken on SNL — J.Lo, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry, come to mind — and some have fared better than others. Hosting SNL is a huge test, and to help Miley along, we've dug up some of its past pop-star winners and losers to get a glimpse of how things might go. Our fingers are crossed!
1. Everyone realizes you're actually hilarious and much more than just that singer from that "Genie in a Bottle" song.
Christina Aguilera hosted SNL in 2004 and appeared in a still-referenced spoof of Sex and the City. Her ridiculously spot-on impression of Kim Cattrall as Samantha (as a secret dude) was pitch-perfect and made us wish Aguilera would take a chance on acting more often. Somebody get her another hosting gig, stat!
2. You discover this may be what you should have been doing all along.
We're not saying that hosting five gigs on Saturday Night Live completely altered the path of Justin Timberlake's career, but he did retire from music for a few years to pursue acting, and we think his appearances on SNL had something to do with it. It's hard to say what the best part of JT's SNL's run has been. Is is the "Dick in a Box" and "Mother Lover" digital shorts he did with Andy Samberg and Lonely Island? His awesome Bon Iver-visiting-Blue Ivy impression? The Barry Gibb show? It's difficult to pick a favorite, but we'll go with a classic.
3. You become the divisive pop-culture topic of the week.
Miley already knows what this is like (see the VMAs.) But we're also thinking of Lana Del Rey's early 2012 SNL performance, which, did not go so well. How bad was it? The following week, Kristin Wiig appeared on "Weekend Update" as Del Rey, spoofing the singer's shaky performance. There was so much backlash, you guys, that there was backlash to the backlash. Fans of Del Rey took to Twitter and Facebook to defend the "Video Games" singer, while critics pretty much routinely panned her performance. And then, suddenly, nobody cared. She scored an H&M campaign and had a Mulberry bag named after her. See, there is life after controversy!
4. Your SNL gig reinforces what everyone already thought of you anyway.
Justin Bieber is really good at being a massively huge pop star. A sketch comedian? Not so much. When he appeared as the host and musical guest in 2012, it was pretty apparent that Bieber could only play one character: himself.
5. You make a big, big mistake.
Take heart, Miley. When it comes to bombing SNL, it'll be pretty hard to mess up more than Ashlee Simpson. Remember when she got caught lip-syncing during her 2004 appearance on the show and tried to riverdance her way out of it? Of course, you do.
Everybody knows you've got the vocal chops to back up your wild style. Here's hoping comedy comes naturally, too.