Usher made the most of his appearance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, as the silky-voiced singer gets set to release his seventh album, Looking 4 Myself, on June 12. The man born Usher Raymond IV performed his recent R&B chart-topping “Climax” and its trance-pop follow-up single, “Scream,” as expected, but he also showed up in a star-studded digital short, plus a sketch involving a debate for mayor of Funkytown (wait, and here we were worrying about the fate of Parks and Rec?).
The guest spots delivered on charisma and entertainment value, though nothing quite matched the original “Climax” for big-event impact. Usher’s dance moves and voice were in fine form for “Scream,” while on “Climax” he sounded his best when he broke from the recorded version to add some airily melismatic vocal runs. SNL‘s 100th digital short also enlisted host Will Ferrell along with Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, Julian Casablancas, and many more, in a goofy music-video tribute to self-love. The “Funkytown Debate” sketch hung on the clumsy premise that C-Span-style political debate is funny when it’s accompanied by late-’70s funk stereotypes for more than five minutes, so it was a good thing Usher was on hand as “Dr. Galactic Fantastic.”