Saturday Night Live kicks off its 40th season on Saturday, with host Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande. In addition to Grande belting out “Break Free,” it’s unknown if she will (fingers crossed!) take part in a sketch as well. She, of course, acted on Nickelodeon’s Victorious and Sam and Cat, so she’s got some experience. And there are also those persistent diva rumors that a silly sketch could really help combat…
If she does appear, she’ll be in good company. Over the years, many musicians have appeared either “as themselves” or a character in a comedy sketch, in addition to playing their music. Besides the music stars who got invited to host — like Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift — there’s also plenty who popped by for one segment to show off their sense of humor (and make a joke or two at their own expense).
Below, we list 10 of our favorite recent SNL sketches featuring musicians. But first, a couple stipulations: We only considered true live sketches — meaning no monologues and no digital shorts, however hilarious they were. Secondly, we combined several of Timberlake’s solo greatest hits into one entry, otherwise the superstar would dominate the list (and Billboard already put together his best moments). And we kept the list to the recent past, so we could actually show you the moments we’re talking about. With that said, check out our picks below — and make sure you’ve got your headphones in. It’s late night, after all; some of the bits are a bit NSFW.
10. Katy Perry
When Perry did SNL, she was coming off a bit of a scandal. She’d taped a hilarious Sesame Street cameo with a G-rated version of her hit “Hot and Cold.” But the costume-y outfit Perry wore on the kids’ show was a little too PG-13 for PBS. Namely, she put on display the asset she’s best known for: That cleavage. It was the kind of ridiculous situation that was just begging to be spoofed — and when Perry dropped by SNL, she didn’t disappoint, cementing the goofy, hot-but-girl-next-door vibe that’s stuck in the public consciousness since.
9. Adam Levine
Who knew the Maroon 5 frontman could act? When Adam Levine hosted last season, he revealed his dead-on impression of Nev Schulman, the name-dropping host of the MTV reality show Catfish.
8. Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger mostly gets a nod here for agreeing to the concept, a familiar one to SNL: Spoofing someone directly to their face, or, in this case, through “a mirror.” Jimmy Fallon has his detractors, but he sure is in his element whenever he’s impersonating a rock star of a certain age.
7. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga gets points for self-awareness by boldly sending up her image in the below sketch. Playing herself as an old lady, she looks back on her career and makes a bunch of self-deprecating joke that are considerably darker than the average “Celeb Playing Themselves” cameo. Well played, Mother Monster.
Watch the sketch here.
6. Chris Martin
Fresh off consciously uncoupling from Gwyneth Paltrow, the Coldplay singer was ready to announce his single status — without really talking about his private life. The solution? A hilarious Amazing Spider-Man sketch that coasted on the charms of too-cute-for-words Emma Stone and host Andrew Garfield, before Martin came out for the final punchline — and a big kiss.
Watch the sketch here.
5. Michael Buble
Things that are known: Jon Hamm is hilarious. Things that weren’t as commonly known prior to this skit: Michael Buble is also down for some laughs. Raise a glass of to Buble.
4. Taylor Swift
When Swift hosted the show, it was just two months after Kanye-gate and there was a lot of concern about how she’d be as host. People were in for a delightful surprise: From her self-spoofing, self-penned monologue song to her dead-on Bella Swan impression in a Twilight trailer, Swift’s whole episode was a hit. Her lack of vanity — as seen below — was particularly refreshing.
3. Miley Cyrus
The Miley Cyrus Show was already a popular recurring sketch by the time the real Cyrus stopped by — so of course, she had to be involved. Smartly letting Vanessa Bayer continue her hilarious impression of her, Miley expertly portrayed Cyrus’ guest, Justin Bieber. “Smile, cocky nod, point.” Nailed it.
2. Justin Timberlake
Where to begin? The man has had so many memorable sketches over the past decade, full of beloved recurring characters like the costumed “Omeletville” performer, one-half of the Gibbs brothers — not to mention his digital shorts with Andy Samberg. We’ll give the shout out to a one-off, sometimes forgotten sketch. Come for old-time-y Timberlake, stay for the off-color Britney Spears joke that no one but Timberlake could pull off.
Listen. Beyonce is wonderful, talented, and a pro at Instagram. But funny? Even her diehard fans have to admit she doesn’t do laughs for the public too often. Which is why this skit — a perfect send-up of the crazy viral “Single Ladies” video — was such a treat. Yes, the sketch is helped by a surprise Timberlake cameo, but it succeeds even without that boost.