Season 43 of Saturday Night Live kicks off this weekend (Sept. 30) with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest JAY-Z. With the next weeks’ shows featuring performances by Sam Smith and P!nk, that leaves about 15 open slots to fill with future musical acts. So who else will snag an invite onstage this season?
With a much-hyped fall lineup of new music releases from the likes of Demi Lovato and St. Vincent — not to mention summer breakthroughs from artists like Khalid and SZA — the competition is high. But we made our best educated guesses at who will take this season’s stage below.
Miley Cyrus: It’s no secret that Miley Cyrus is an SNL favorite. The singer earned her first hosting gig in 2011 (alongside musical guest The Strokes), and has performed double-duty as both host and musical performer twice since. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Cyrus take on either role for SNL this season and the release of her new album Younger Now on Sept. 26 provides the perfect excuse to invite the star back onstage.
Khalid: These days, Khalid is everywhere — from appearing on tracks by Lorde and Logic to joining the iHeartRadio Music Festival stage this month. A performance on SNL seems like a natural progression for the R&B wunderkind, who earned a best new artist win at the 2017 MTV VMAs thanks to his arsenal of laid-back, youth-focused tracks like “Location” and “Young Dumb & Broke.” Plus, if SNL is looking to up its younger viewership, bringing on this American Teen just might help.
St. Vincent: All ears were on St. Vincent (a.k.a. Annie Clark) when she announced her newest album, Masseduction (out Oct. 13), through a purposely bizarre “press conference” earlier this month. If you’ve seen the video, you’ll know the Grammy-winning indie rocker is no stranger to sketch comedy. Add that to her two stellar recent singles (“New York” and “Los Ageless”) and her reputation for quirky performances (remember when she took the stage attired as a purple toilet last year?) and St. Vincent seems like an obvious choice for an SNL guest spot.
Kesha: Much has changed since Kesha last graced SNL‘s stage back in 2010, when she performed breakout hits “Tik Tok” and “Your Love Is My Drug.” Since, the singer has undergone a name change (bye bye, $ sign), a career-halting court battle with former producer Dr. Luke and a nearly five-year musical drought — that is, until unveiling her triumphant new album Rainbow in August, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. With all this success, a return to SNL feels inevitable for the star.
Demi Lovato: Demi Lovato was last on SNL in 2015, performing tracks off that year’s Confident with rave reviews of her sky-high vocals and energetic stage presence. Now that Lovato is gearing up to release the album’s follow-up, Tell Me You Love Me (which drops Friday), we wouldn’t be surprised to see her grace 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s studio 8H stage once more. Adding to the buzz, Lovato’s new documentary series, Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, drops next month.
SZA: It seems that everyone’s a sucker for SZA, the Top Dawg singer-songwriter and rapper whose acclaimed album Ctrl bounded to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in July. She’s collaborated with everyone from Maroon 5 to Lorde since — even bringing label-mate Kendrick Lamar onstage for a recent Los Angeles tour stop — meaning an SNL performance for the star could include a few surprise guests, too.
The Killers: Las Vegas arena rockers The Killers are somewhat of SNL veterans, having performed several times on the show dating back to 2005. And the release of their fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, this month only ups their chances of serving as musical guest.
Taylor Swift: Taylor, we need to talk. The 27-year-old singer finally returned from a three-year album hiatus at the end of August with two vengeful new tracks and an album announcement to boot. When Reputation arrives in November, we’ll see the new Taylor debut in full force — because as she proclaims in comeback single “Look What You Made Me Do,” “the old Taylor is dead.” Whether you’re a Swiftie or not, the pop star’s return to the spotlight makes her a shoe-in for SNL?’s guest list, if she wants it, and it’s about time fans get some explanation for Swift’s recent cryptic online activity.
Thomas Rhett: SNL reliably includes at least one country act each season. This time around, it feels like Thomas Rhett‘s turn to shine. The singer-songwriter’s recent album Life Changes not only went No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, but marked the chart’s first No. 1 country album of 2017. If he is chosen for the show, it could also mean a guest appearance from Maren Morris to perform their Country Airplay chart-topping duet, “Craving You.”
Niall Horan: It’s unlikely that this season’s SNL lineup will have room for more than one former One Direction-er, though all five of the past and present bandmates have made successful solo debuts. Our guess for this season’s roster is Niall Horan, the ex-member whose “Slow Hands” just topped Billboard‘s Pop Songs radio airplay chart — Horan’s latest in a string of new tunes including “Too Much To Ask” and “This Town.” An SNL visit could easily be timed to coincide with the unveiling of Horan’s debut solo album, Flicker, on Oct. 20.
Post Malone: On the hip-hop front, we’re expecting an SNL invite for Post Malone, the rap heavy-hitter behind summer chart-climber “Congratulations” and the recent “Rockstar” with 21 Savage, which just set a new Apple Music record for highest streams in a single week. And he’s known for performances that pack surprise, from covering Green Day‘s “Basket Case” with Billie Joe Armstrong’s approval to trying his hand at stage-diving. All this makes the rapper born Austin Post an obvious choice for an SNL spot.
Portugal. The Man: If SNL spotlights one artist with a breakthrough hit in 2017, we’re betting on Portugal. The Man. The indie outfit’s “Feel It Still” has been soaring up the charts all season (notching 13 weeks at No. 1 on Alternative Songs) and serves as the band’s first mainstream hit since forming in the early 2000s. A performance on SNL seems like the best way to top off the group’s whirlwind success of a summer.
Cardi B: Speaking of whirlwind successes, we can’t forget Cardi B, the Atlantic Records rhymer whose monster hit “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” just became the first Hot 100 No. 1 by a female rapper in nearly 19 years. Cardi B made her late-night TV debut this week (Sept. 26) as a guest on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where she joined G-Eazy to perform “No Limit.” But it’s about time for the breakout star to take center stage for a late-night show performance of her own.