Kendrick Lamar Undergoes an Exorcism on SNL

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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

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"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU ARE SO LUCKY TONIGHT!"

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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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The Black Keys Bore on SNL

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There are times when Saturday Night Live is having a rough night, one where the timing's off from start to finish, the host flubs their lines or breaks character in a totally unfunny way, and the big group hug that takes place onstage while the credits roll is more of a consoling embrace than a congratulatory one. In those instances, the musical guest has the unique opportunity to break out as the star of the show and upstage the host, making every bland Weekend Update joke or try-hard sketch worth it for those two songs alone. If Jay Pharoah couldn't get the audience to laugh at his Obama impression on that particular episode, maybe Haim would've swooped in and saved the day. If Ben Affleck faltered, Kanye was there to catch him with "Black Skinhead." It's all about balance and give-and-take when something is off in Studio 8H, and as SNL is the cornerstone of live TV, there's nothing we can do but watch the trainwreck roll out.

That didn't happen on SNL this week. If anything, the Black Keys brought down SNL, and they brought down SNL fast.

See also: Eminem's SNL Performance Was So Bad It Was Taken Off the Internet

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Coldplay and Good Music "Consciously Uncouple" on Saturday Night Live

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Now that Coldplay is on the major promotional circuit to drum up interest for Ghost Stories, the single premieres and media appearances have put some serious distance between Chris Martin and his goopy separation. Martin succeeded in making Gwyneth a conversation topic of the past by donning a ponytail wig and offering up a weird, broody cameo in a sketch that had him kissing Andrew Garfield like he's never been kissed before on Saturday Night Live.

See also: "OMG Her Face!": America Reacts to Haim's SNL Performance

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Ed Sheeran Goes Full John Mayer on SNL

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First things first: Ed Sheeran's Saturday Night Live portrait makes him look like Hobbit Spice and it's impossible to quit staring at it. Secondly, it's exciting for an artist of Sheeran's stature to use the SNL stage to premiere new material instead of dropping it via YouTube or Twitter or whichever social network he'd choose for instant gratification and clickable domination. A creepy as hell headshot may have come out of it, but Sheeran's SNL debut was a fruitful one for him that established crossover appeal--or at least it justified Sheeran's presence on the playlist of anyone over the age of 18 who needs to lay off the greatest hits of Jack Johnson and John Mayer for awhile.

See also: "OMG Her Face!": America Reacts to Haim's SNL Performance

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