When it comes to SNL hosts, musicians are a mixed bag.
Sometimes, their turn on the 8H stage is just further proof of why they're a musician and not an actor or comedian, and all you're left with is a whole lot of secondhand embarrassment. Other times, they blow it so out of the water that the world begins to see them in a whole new light, which is sort of what Ariana Grande did for us last night.
We know she started out being hilarious on Nickelodeon for multiple years, and we should have guessed she would be funny. We just didn't imagine she would be that funny. We had even seen some of her musical impressions before, but during her turn as host and musical guest this weekend, she blew our minds with her Britney, her Rihanna, her Celine, and her Whitney. And how did Jennifer Lawrence's voice come out of her like that? Where did that impression even come from?!
Grande (who is not a Starbucks drink) was not the first musician who slayed on SNL both musically and comedically. She's joined by countless other musicians who have taken on the job of host and musical guest, but we've narrowed it down to 10 of the most memorable and most surprising musical hosts of the past couple decades.
10. Christina Aguilera (season 29, 2004)
Xtina was almost a better Samantha Jones than Kim Cattrall herself when SNL spoofed the Sex and the City finale. We don't remember the rest of the episode, but we will forever remember our jaws on the floor during that sketch.
9. Elton John (season 36, 2011)
He participated in Laser Cats: The Musical, regaled us with stories of his cowboy days and played one half of a movie-loving couple with Taran Killam. Even though he was just playing himself, his ability to keep a straight face while Fred Armisen probably ruined Queen Elizabeth for him forever was surprising enough.
8. Britney Spears
Spears hosted once in 2000 and once in 2002 and while she never really entered into SNL legend territory, she did give us some memorable performances, like as the crudely charming butter churner and then as Barbie's little "sister," Skipper.
7. Lady Gaga
Whether she was playing a parent at a 4th grade talent show or herself in 50 years in one of the saddest, most poignant sketches SNL has ever done, we were mesmerized.
6. Garth Brooks
The love between Garth Brooks (and his alter ego, Chris Gaines) and Chris Kattan's Mango will forever be remembered as the weirdest and most pure love we've ever seen, and we will never ever forget that a cowboy should always wear a wireless headset, drink Pelligrinos, and carry his makeup in a Prada fanny pack.
5. Drake (season 39, 2014)
Not even Drake's past as Jimmy "Wheelchair Jimmy" Brooks on Degrassi could have prepared us for how delighted we would be by this episode. We still occasionally think about him as Dalton, the host of the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular at Disney World, and not just because of his weirdly short khaki shorts.
4. Taylor Swift (season 35, 2009)
Taylor has become a master at subtle, polite f--k yous, but her monologue song, in which she confirmed a relationship with Taylor Lautner and made fun of Joe Jonas and Kanye West, was revolutionary. The rest of the episode was fine, but that monologue is up there near the top of our favorite Taylor Swift moments ever.
3. Miley Cyrus
Despite the fact that she has clearly tried to shed her Disney star past, Cyrus is still great at comedy and has also developed some fine skills at making us all go, "WTF?" She has hosted multiple times, but it was her Michelle Bachman, paired with Taran Killam's John Boehner in a video spoofing the government shutdown, that still both horrifies and delights us.
2. Bruno Mars (season 38, 2012)
Bruno's episode was a lot like Ariana's in more ways than one. He too got to showcase his knack for musical impressions in an "intern saves the music streaming site" sketch, but he also just really blew us away. We weren't surprise that he was funny, but we were more astounded by how easy and breezy the whole thing seemed to be for him.
1. Justin Timberlake
We're tempted to name the five-time host the king of Saturday Night Live, but that might be a bit extreme. He's definitely some kind of SNL royalty to the point where we occasionally forget that JT's a musician and not an actual cast member. "D--k in a Box" changed the world, and you can't argue with us about that.