Ariana Grande is the freshest name on the varied list of multi-hyphenates who have shouldered duty as both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. It takes a special blend of chops and charisma to do it and do it well. Justin Timberlake is the gold standard. Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, and Britney Spears have tried it. Miley Cyrus pulled it off just last fall in the first episode of the current season. Grande already let the world know via her website what tracks she’s be performing from her new album, Dangerous Woman: “Be Alright” and, of course, “Dangerous Woman.” The album went to number one in 30 countries in less than 24 hours earlier this week, so she's clearly got that part of the gig handled. So, how did the hosting part of the equation play out for Grande on Saturday night? Here are three memorable moments from last night’s SNL: 1. "Tidal": The best moves for a host/musical guest combo are when the SNL writers can use the host’s comedy and musical chops. This sketch about Tidal’s reputation for technical problems does it all the way. Grande plays Chloe, the intern who is called upon fill the gaps when the streaming service goes down. She does amazing renditions of Britney, Shakira, and Rihanna, although we saw some of them on her Jimmy Fallon appearance. She flexes her musical muscles to cover for the '90s divas Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. All jokes aside, Grande’s “I Will Always Love You” sample is a knock-out, dead-on ringer for the original Houston version. The artist she won’t cover? Ariana Grande. “Sorry, not a fan,” the real Grande says in a major meta moment.
2. "What Will My Scandal Be?": Grande brought it big right out of the box with a musical number in her monologue, titled “What Will My Scandal Be?” The jazz-standard melody catalogued a long list of possible missteps that could be the “grown-up scandal” she needs to show she’s more than just someone who licks a donut she didn’t pay for. “Miley’s had them. Bieber’s had them. I sit by the window and dream, What will my scandal be?" She gets to sing and throw a little shade at celebrity culture, saying she’d always hoped she’d “grow up and make a million people mad at me.” 3. “This Is Not A Feminist Song”: The ladies of SNL are back with another parody music video, this one hoping to create a “gorgeous ode to feminism.” They sing and dance across the beach at Coney Island, working very hard to be inclusive and not to offend anyone by trying to write a song that “captures every woman’s deal.” They eventually come to the conclusion that maybe women singing a song is a feminist song. In their own words, creating a new feminist anthem is “a tough and tricky landmine of a song.”
Bonus Points: Ariana as Jennifer Lawrence in "Celebrity Family Feud." Kate McKinnon and Jay Pharoah are obviously going to be great as Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, but Grande as Lawrence was a pitch-perfect surprise. (And she didn’t even have to sing!) Check out the clip, here.