Here we go!! #BIEBERonSNL— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) February 10, 2013
For those who don't routinely or voluntarily listen to his music, Justin Bieber's 34.7 million followers on Twitter and the fact he's got 51 million likes on Facebook are just as fascinating as his place atop the world of pop music and culture. Bieber brought all of his star power to a snowy New York City this week and endured Nemo with a few million others before hosting Saturday Night Live and performing double-duty as the musical guest.
While this week's episode of "SNL" offered the biggest name in pop, not even the worst case of Bieber Fever or the most devout Belieber could salvage this week's effort. Bieber mocked his own persona at times and the lack of depth this week was unintentionally ironic. The comical highlight was the cold opening. While Bieber sang, and did it well, there wasn't much in terms of laughs worth staying up for, especially if you had spent the better part of the previous day shoveling snow. Bieber's acting and comedic delivery was smooth, but there wasn't much material for him to work with. Perhaps the better writers were snowed in this week and couldn't connect on-line.
Seventy-four minutes in, Bieber's fans may have thought they got what they wanted with a special Valentine's Day message. He flashed a photo down his pants, supposedly for Hillary Clinton, but the sketch was another miss on a night SNL delivered all the comedic impact of Pedro Ciriaco with two on and two out.
The show's cold opening was a rare exception. It returned us to the CBS set during the Super Bowl blackout. Shannon Sharpe (Jay Pharoah) was his typical buffoon self. Meanwhile, Taran Killam delivered a fitting Steve Tasker who found himself an unwilling national anchor in both real-life and during this sketch. "I have nothing to add," Tasker said. And that was one minute into the 15-minute countdown. When Bill Cowher (Tim Robinson) was asked to break down the game after the blackout, he gave the audience this analysis. "As I've said seven times in the last 15 minutes, I can see it having advantages for both sides."
Dan Marino (Jason Sudeikis) didn't have much to offer during this faux delay. Again, another perfect depiction of both satire and reality. Sharpe later asked: "If the clock in the stadium stops, do we stop aging?" James Brown (Kenan Thompson) Tried to help the audience with some player-name anagrams. "Colin Kaepernick spells 'Cocaine Kelp Rick,'"
Brown kept chiming in with plugs for "2 Broke Girls" and Tasker and Brown kept throwing back to either other. Since the CBS hosts had too much time to fill, the subject of Marino's illegitimate daughter came up.
"We agreed it was off limits," Marino said. But Brown responded: "It's a new world, that was before the 20-minute blackout. We have to admit to stuff."
That solicited this confession from Sharpe: "Ray Lewis knows who killed those people because it was him ... I really need to leave this game before it's done."
All that was before Bieber took the stage. "I had no idea there would be any girls here tonight," said Bieber in his monologue (above), who said it was time to celebrate both "Valentine's Day" and "Black History Month." A few lucky girls in the audience were wooed by Bieber and got some distorted lessons in Black history. "Did you know Maya Angelou invented the peanut?" He eventually found his girl in Whoopie Goldberg.
His first song was an acoustic version of "As Long As You Love Me." Not the high-energy performance his audience expected, but a nice, quiet, almost-adult display of his vocal talents. He came back near the end of the show with an ode to his breakup with Selena Gomez - "Nothing Like Us." The audience screamed for an encore, but NBC had lots more money to make this time.
Late in the show, we were subjected to a Killam mocking Bieber as his date's older brother for saying the word "glice."
Killam did his best to get the pop star to break the cardinal rule of SNL and crack up during a live sketch. Bieber barely managed to maintain his composure, much to the delight of his fans on social media. Naturally, within minutes, #Glice was trending on Twitter.
Such is the power of the Biebs.
Miley Cyrus (Vanessa Bayer) was back with her new hairstyle and a new tattoo. Bieber showed up as the president of her fan club, Pete DeFalco, on "The Miley Cyrus Show." DeFalco compared Cyrus' new hair style to Bieber's before mocking himself by saying: "That Justin Bieber, he looks like a lesbian, I heard he has still has baby teeth. and that he got busted for smoking weed, but that people make mistakes and he was really sorry and he won't do it again."
Bieber was introduced to 12 look-alike decoys (including a few females) by his security director (Sudeikis) for his safety during one sketch. It was a nice piece of self-deprecating humor, as Bieber tried to out-sing and out-maneuver his impersonators. No. 11 (Bobby Moynihan) and the real Bieber engaged in a dance-off, but the chubby Moynihan backed out once Bieber flashed his legit six-pack abs. In a surprise appearance Ellen (Kate McKinnon) offered her support.
Bieber pitched for abstinence at a high school dance, but that didn't make his date (Nasim Pedrad) too happy. Some minor laughs were forced during a PG-13 rated version of something that resembled "Grease," but another opportunity was lost to showcase Bieber's singing talent.
A series of wild Bravo spinoffs were promoted in a filmed commercial for the network, including the "The Real Houseplants of Beverly Hills."
Naturally, the aftereffects of Nemo were highlighted during "Weekend Update." We also got a visit from King Richard III's best friends. They stopped by to defend the reputation of the late British monarch, whose skeletal remains were found in London last week. Seth Meyers took a nice swipe at the mother of Honey Boo Boo, who recently shed more than 100 pounds without exercise. "I thought the only way she'd lose 100 pounds is in a custody battle," Meyers said. He also caught up with the "one black guy" in all the Super Bowl commercials who has to "high-five every 12 seconds" or he'll die.
Things slowed down significantly after the monologue. The return of the "Californians" was a buzz kill and it was sandwiched around an excessive amount of real commercials. The show's second sketch didn't start until 25 minutes had run off the clock.
Christoph Waltz will host next week with musical guest Alabama Shakes.
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