"Hozier who?" That was likely the question on most Saturday Night Live viewers' minds when the Irish singer was first revealed as the October 12th musical guest for Bill Hader's return episode. However, the rising soul singer delivered a rousing performance that ensured people don't forget his name anytime soon. Hozier played a pair of tracks off his self-titled LP, his hit "Take Me to Church" and the harrowing "Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene."
Just seconds into "Take Me to Church," it seemed as though microphone troubles threatened to derail Hozier's big break, but the singer recovered – thanks to some quick mic stand adjusting – and managed to transform 30 Rock into a perfect setting for a gospel sermon. Surprise guest Kristen Wiig later introduced Hozier's second performance. On "Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene," Hozier displayed his tremendous singing abilities while also sharing the spotlight with the powerhouse strings section and backup vocalists he enlisted for his breakthrough SNL gig.
The Saturday Night Live performance culminated what was a whirlwind year for the singer born Andrew Hozier-Byrne. "When I have a moment to reflect on the last year, it's a bit fucking surreal," Hozier told Rolling Stone. In September 2013, the "Take Me to Church" music video – which depicted a same-sex couple being pursued by an angry mob – was posted on Reddit around the same time around the time of Russia's controversial anti-gay legislation. "At one point it was getting like 10,000 views an hour or something," Hozier said. "I remember it quite clearly, just going to bed and kind of freaking out."
The rise is not unlike fellow Irish singer Damien Rice's ascension in the early-2000s: Like Rice, Hozier's songs became a go-to for music supervisors. His tracks appeared in The Leftovers, Wish I Was Here and Revenge, and live appearances on So You Think You Can Dance? and Late Show With David Letterman soon followed. Hozier, who released his self-titled debut LP in September, continues an SNL trend in recent seasons where the show has devoted a musical guest slot to up-and-coming lesser-known acts like Karmin, Bastille and Of Monsters and Men.
SNL returns October 25th with host Jim Carrey and musical guest Iggy Azalea.