Not many have done it, and fewer have done it well, but this week Saturday Night Live invited their host to also be musical guest. Nope, scratch that, reverse it: Bruno Mars – musician first – tried his hand at acting, dropping his fedora and guitar, picking up a few wigs along the way. It was a challenge Bruno acknowledged first and foremost in his monologue: “I’ve never done comedy before, I’ve never acted before, I’ve never even done a shampoo commercial before . . . which is crazy.” He then continued, tip-toeing into song, “Can I put aside my fears? Can I be Timberlake?” Now, while Bruno urged critics to be gentle, he was no Timberlake. (This was most obvious when filling the same role of “creepy carnival animatron” that Justin once did, playing the part less for laughs and more for accuracy.) That being said, Bruno was no slouch – it seems that Hawaiian performers, much like their pizza, come heaped with ham. He played to his strengths, singing an original song in the monologue; caricaturing Billie Joe Armstrong’s snotty singing and rapping like Justin Bieber later; acting like a seventeen-year-old girl and dropping it like a hot pocket, before that. (It’s either surprising or not-surprising that Bruno could pull that last one off so well.) Of course, Bruno took the night with his live performances, which have always been better than even his records suggest. He channeled both the sound of the Police and Drake’s aesthetic in his live rendition of “Locked Out of Heaven,” his catchy gumdrop of a single. Later, he debuted his follow-up, “Young Wild Girls,” a familiar ballad sung under blue lights and a wide-brimmed hat. Justin may still hold the SNL crown, but at least Bruno’s putting out new music. Watch Bruno Mars’ finest moments on the show below:
“Locked Out of Heaven”
With a little oomph, a whole lotta shimmy-shimmy-ya and a few hip swivels, Bruno’s ska-bop jam was given new life. It all seems so effortless; so cool and fresh; pop performances don’t often fall ahead of the curve, but this one does.
“Young Wild Girls”
Seated on a stool, flanked by a string section and a soft-and-slow keyboard, Bruno played the victim, singing “you young wild girls, you’ll be the death of me.” While Adele sings Bond songs, Bruno will sing Adele songs. Notably, the veins in his neck (and, yes, his lip gloss) popped on camera.
On “Haters” – a hoot-holler-and-fight show in the same lane as, say, Maury or Jenny Jones – Bruno dressed up as Crystal Fust, squeezing into stretch pants and a skirt, chewing gum and throwing hands like it was 11 a.m. The sketch never really worked, but Bruno definitely worked it.
“Pandora Internet Radio Headquarters”
The best sketch of the night, which is currently unavailable online, had Bruno playing the role of Devon the Intern, who – when Pandora’s servers crashed – saved the website through cheeky karaoke. Aerosmith, Green Day, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry all got the full Bruno treatment, and if you missed it, tough luck. “Sad Mouse” In this pre-taped sketch, Bruno (as Matt) is dealing with some things; he’s got some issues. His girl left him, he just found out his father has a new family that he loves more . . . you know, normal stuff. But he takes a job as a guy who dresses up as a mouse in Times Square for pictures. “What if they don’t wave back?” he asks. One imagines a freakout of Elmo proportions, but instead . . . he learns to love, I guess. Pretty accurate title.
Last Week’s Recap: Christina Applegate Brings Cornucopia of Funny to ‘SNL’