Ariana Grande opened Saturday Night Live's 40th season as its first musical guest last night, riding on the wave of summer energy from her chart-topping second album, My Everything to make her debut on the show.
For the first act, Grande donned her kitty ears for a performance of her latest My Everything single "Break Free." She opened the song with a twist, starting off in a stripped-down mode, perched on a stool with only piano accompaniment to highlight her breathy vocals before the party beat kicked in and a team of backup dancers joined in with some festive choreography.
For the second number, Grande gave "Love Me Harder" its live premiere, bringing out the Weeknd as a semi-surprise guest on the duet. (She'd announced his appearance over Twitter a few hours before the broadcast, putting to rest speculation that her "Bang Bang" collaborators Nicki Minaj and Jessie J. might drop by.) The song is set to emerge later this month as the third single for My Everything. The former Nickelodeon star also made use of her acting chops early in the show, joining host Chris Pratt in a sketch as she helped make a mess as She-Ra to his He-Man.
Saturday Night Live returns next week with musical guests Maroon 5 making their fifth appearance on the show.