Charli XCX Plays It Too Safe With Her SNL Performance

Despite the fact that she co-wrote and lent her voice to "Fancy," one of the most indisputable hits of 2014, the world is still arching eyebrows over Charli XCX and what exactly she's all about. Is she a pop tart banking on plaid miniskirts and '90s nostalgia in the hopes of finding her own voice in the wake of tired trends? Is she pop's next big thing, an artist who's more than capable of writing the catchiest of hooks and delivering them with an equally distinguishing voice, like Lady Gaga before her? Is she a flash in the pan or a strong talent who's earned her shiny new acclaim, this Saturday Night Live spotlight, and a shot at headlining her own agenda instead of that of her collaborators in 2015?

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Nicki Minaj Outshines James Franco With Pinkprint Cuts on SNL


If there are two names that 2014 wore the hell out, it's Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian West, and yet Nicki Minaj was able to capitalize on both -- and deliver a stellar musical set -- on Saturday Night Live, without tapping the trend till it goes stale.

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Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson Have a Total Blast on SNL

And just like that, the internet was a-floodin' with hearts, stars, enamored emojis, and compliments, and for one brief moment, we were all united in the warm embrace of Hooliganism after Bruno Mars took Saturday Night Live by storm (and in flamingo pink at that). We can bicker about pop stars. We can fight about Adam Levine's falsetto. We may fall down in fisticuffs over lip-syncing or awkward choreography, but we can also get giddy about a solid showing from a talent who's been staying out of the headlines lately, and we can get real, real excited for their return. That's exactly the kind of good cheer Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson brought to Saturday Night Live.

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Kendrick Lamar Undergoes an Exorcism on SNL

A strong Saturday Night Live showing can serve as a glimpse into the future, depending on the parties involved. With Kanye West, "Black Skinhead" proved to audiences that a break from format with an outside-the-box presentation could achieve great things on an otherwise blank and boring soundstage. Sam Smith offered "Stay With Me" to the masses as his introduction to the world before he became the biggest voice of 2014, a trend Hozier would repeat a few months later. Waning interest in Iggy Azalea followed up her flop, while the public's curiosity about St. Vincent piqued and Miley Cyrus was redeemed.

And with the good kid from m.A.A.d city? This week's SNL may as well be a Magic 8 Ball, because this was the first official indication that 2015 will be the Year of Kendrick Lamar.

See also: Prince Melts Faces for Eight Minutes on SNL

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Prince Melts Faces for Eight Minutes on SNL



Usually, when the host of Saturday Night Live brings out the musical guest, it's simple: A "Ladies and gentlemen, [musical guest]!" and a gesture from Vanna White's playbook make for the uniform greeting before the song begins. When the notoriously elusive and aloof Prince made his return to SNL this weekend for the first time since 2006, Chris Rock couldn't contain himself, and though the comedian tends to speak in all caps anyway, his excitement was totally appropriate. PRINCE PLAYING SNL IS A BIG, BIG DEAL. And yes: the audience was lucky.

See also: Was Iggy Azalea's SNL Performance the Worst in the Show's History?

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Was Iggy Azalea's SNL Performance the Worst in the Show's History?

First things first: Rita Ora's backing vocals? Not the Realest, and she still managed to upstage Iggy Azalea for her big Saturday Night Live debut.

Before we begin, let us stipulate that Azalea's chart and headline domination in 2014 is irrefutable. Between "Fancy," "Black Widow," "Problem," and the collection of awards-show performances and festival engagements under her belt, the radiant rapper has had an excellent year, chock-full of star-spangled collaborations and oft-repeated verses. It's a good time to be Iggy Azalea. Or it was until she made her way to SNL.

See also: Sorry, Haters: Maroon 5 Rocked SNL

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Hozier On SNL: One Big Heart-Eyed Emoji

Remember when "Stay With Me" dropped and everyone scrambled to learn more about Sam Smith, the baby-faced British crooner that showed up out of nowhere to remind us that England's got more to offer to pop than the distant promise of a new Adele album and One Direction's tattoos? His Saturday Night Live performance was the beacon at the beginning of his ascent to fame, and Hozier, the smoldering singer-songwriter also hailing from the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic, is following in his footsteps.

See also: Sam Smith SLAYED Saturday Night Live

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Sorry, Haters: Maroon 5 Rocked SNL

There's an elephant in the room sporting some excellent hair gel, so let's acknowledge it and move on before we dive into Maroon 5's performance on Saturday Night Live. People lo-ho-hoooooove to hate these guys, the falsetto-favoring, Voice-judging, badly tattooed frontman in particular. Adam Levine is despised for everything from his looks to his unabashed adoration for pop music and whatever color he decides he wants his hair to be this week. He's the anti-rock god, in that people never accept the music he makes for what it is: it's always not quite pop or not quite rock and definitely Not [Their] Thing.

See also: Ariana Grande Doesn't 'Break Free' of Mediocrity on Saturday Night Live

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Ariana Grande Doesn't 'Break Free' of Mediocrity on Saturday Night Live

By most accounts, Chris Pratt and Ariana Grande have won the summer of 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy, the geek blockbuster bonanza that catapulted Pratt from Parks and Recreation ensemble player to major Hollywood heatthrob status, is still breaking records for both its soundtrack and its box-office appeal. Between the MTV VMA-winning "Problem," her unstoppable collaboration with Iggy Azalea, My Everything, her sophomore full-length, out August 25, and a mile-long, star-studded list of collaborations in the bag, Grande has reached peak pop stardom shortly after her 21st birthday. Booking both Pratt and Grande for Saturday Night Live's 40th season opener was a veritable feat and a perfect pairing after a stellar summer, but the expectations that come with that kind of billing are equally huge, and only one of the two lived up to the hype.

And the one who did? Yeah, Pratt doesn't have a "Problem" at all -- but Grande had plenty.

See also: Miley Cyrus Redeems Herself on SNL

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St. Vincent Confuses the Masses on SNL

Unpacking this one is going to take a minute, so buckle up, because St. Vincent's Saturday Night Live season finale was one for the ages--and it's not necessarily for the reasons you'd think.

See also: Miley Cyrus Redeems Herself on SNL

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