SNL's Musical Guests: Predicting Season 42, From Justin Timberlake to Chance the Rapper

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Chance The Rapper performs on Saturday Night Live on Dec. 12, 2015.

This weekend, Saturday Night Live kicks off its 42nd season with host Margot Robbie and musical guest The Weeknd. Apart from Twenty One Pilots, who are confirmed for the second episode, which artists can audiences expect to see (and hear) as musical guests this season? Billboard made a few educated guesses.
Chance the Rapper: After releasing a strong contender for Album of the Summer (if not the whole year) there’s next to no chance Lil Chano from 79th would skip out on Saturday Night Live this season. While it’s not particularly common for artists to make appearances in back-to-back seasons (the MC debuted as a solo act on the show just last December), Coloring Book made too good of an impression not to earn Chance more time on the Studio 8H stage. And considering the list of contributors on the album, you never know whom he might bring along. On that note…

Frank Ocean: After several delightfully frustrating false starts, Ocean gifted us with his brilliant sophomore LP Blonde this year, in addition to the visual album Endless and a number of obscure, carpentry-themed webstreams. The elusive artist does virtually zero press, beyond occasionally updating his Tumblr. A surprise late night appearance sounds just about right for him.

Halsey: To paraphrase Stefon, a Halsey appearance “has everything.” Halsey has a huge fan following on Tumblr and IRL, and remains famously close to her longtime supporters. She’s immensely talented, openly speaks about race and sexuality, and doesn’t shy away when her mere existence generates controversy online. In addition, Halsey has a No. 1 hit with well-established duo The Chainsmokers (who could cameo) -- but she’s blowing up on her own. In essence, Halsey would attract a younger audience while encouraging out-of-the-know olds to Google her during a commercial break.

(On the “Closer” flipside, it’s also entirely possible that the Chainsmokers are brought on as lead musical guest, with Halsey -- and other collaborators -- coming through to play the hits.)
Mr. Hansen is no stranger to the Studio 8H stage. He’s as established at international festivals as he is beloved in underground circles. He’s an Album of the Year Grammy winner. He’s Beck, and he’s ramping up to release his first full-length album since 2014’s lush Morning Phase, recipient of said statue. You’re not getting out of this season without a performance of his single “Wow,” bank on it.

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Shawn Mendes: Expect teens to stay up too late at sleepovers just to catch a glimpse of the charming singer-songwriter-Viner this season. Mendes, 18, recently signed with Wilhelmina Models, and is currently booking a world tour for 2017. He’s like a pop star the music industry made in a vacuum, which makes his SNL debut feel imminent.
Jay-Z/Beyoncé: While it’s starting to feel like Beyoncé is never not touring, it would also make sense for the Knowles-Carters to stop by SNL at some point. Not just for the Lemonade parody -- if they’d dare go there -- but for the sheer spectacle. With America’s first couple of music (allegedly?) releasing an album together, their appearing as Bonnie & Clyde ’16 on Jay Z’s home turf would be something to behold. Would it be too soon for Jay to do an impression of recently departed cast member Jay Pharoah?

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Lady Gaga: The illustrious Mother Monster has a brand-new record on the way -- oh, and she just booked the Super Bowl halftime show. Between her impressive comedic deadpan and impeccable past performances, she’s a shoo-in for host and musical guest. Dazzle us, Gaga.
Angel Olsen: Admittedly, Angel Olsen is a sleeper choice, but not an impossible one. While she’s yet to make an obvious breakthrough into the mainstream, the Internet went nuts for singles “Intern” and “Shut Up Kiss Me” early this summer, and Olsen’s full-length LP (My Woman, out September 2) is wholly emotive and strange and intense. Booking SNL may be the final push she needs into the spotlight. It would give the show some indie cred, too. (Other dark horse picks? Bay Area sensation Kehlani, Tove Lo and Lucy Dacus.)
Bruno Mars: Rumor has it the SNL vet has an album on the way, so he’ll likely be tapped to appear long before the season is up. Seeing as Mars landed a coveted performer-slash-host spot not too long ago (and handled it deftly), another double duty isn’t out of the question. A stunt for Christmas, perhaps?
Bon Iver: Earlier this year, Justin Vernon resurrected Bon Iver, to the delight of critics across the land. Between Vernon’s indie appeal and the length of time between Bon Iver albums -- their self-titled record first graced listeners back in 2011 -- we can almost certainly expect a gentle appearance from the Beardyman.

Harry Styles: It’s no secret that the erstwhile front-haircut of One Direction is going solo; at this point, it’s mostly just a question of when the album drops. Assuming he’ll release at least one debut track by next spring and maybe a sexy video starring a new model girlfriend to go with it -- we’re just guessing here – the odds are good that we’ll get an early look at it on SNL.
Kelsea Ballerini: Saturday Night Live is good for showcasing at least one true country performer per year (last year it had two) and Season 42 could be newcomer Kelsea Ballerini’s time to shine. You may not know her name yet, but if her recent chart-topper “Peter Pan” hasn't already been stuck in your head for some time, it will be soon. Ballerini has enough of a following to make viewers tune in, and brings the right amount of “Wait, who?” to recruit new fans. Also contenders: fellow country stars Maren Morris and Sam Hunt
Justin Timberlake: JT graduated from musical guest to guest-slash-host long ago, so his return is always highly anticipated. With a family movie (Dreamworks’ Trolls, out Nov. 4) and a corresponding soundtrack to promote, you can pretty much count on an appearance from Timberlake before the year is out. And since Trolls co-star Anna Kendrick is releasing her first book around the same time, we have to assume she’d pop up as well - maybe as early as the Halloween episode, though the Thanksgiving one might make a better timeline.


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