Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP run-up has brought to so many splashy headlines that her Saturday Night Live double-duty turn came as a refreshing refocus on the applause, applause, applause. No art-scene cosigns. No trips to outer space. No extra-toothy skull faces. No bad habits satirized by Bob Saget. Just pop’s leading thespian, belting out her songs with the usual extravagant costumes and dance routines in between successfully delivering the yuks as a comedic actress.
R. Kelly joined the Mother Monster for a highly suggestive take on their Italo disco-gliding duet, “Do What U Want” (above). She also took to the piano and guitar for a glitzy rendition of road ballad “Gypsy” (below), joined by a shirtless dancer and, as on the previous song, a backing band. Both were polished, crowd-pleasing renditions of songs that have ARTPOP on track for a projected No. 1 Billboard chart placement.
But scroll down for a series of bits notable for the hometown New York performer’s willingness to poke fun at herself.
Gaga’s monologue includes a cabaret-style recasting of “Applause” about the merits of “cheap applause.” Her standout sketch appearance finds her as an Apple Genius helping Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. “I think people who try too hard with their outfits are maybe hiding something,” she quips. “Like, come on, dress like a person.”
Another sketch, about the “worst cover songs ever,” sends up Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz — who could forget what his bands did to Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”? Here SNL‘s cast gives up Britney Spears covering Leonard Cohen, Lana Del Rey and Nathan Lane covering Shaggy, Rick Ross covering Anna Kendrick, and Adele covering the (instrumental) LA Law theme. Lady Gaga, of course, covers Madonna (a.k.a., sings “Born This Way”).
A later sketch, with Gaga as an old woman, included snippets of her other hits, and she went to so far as to mention reportedly firing her manager. Elsewhere, she plays a Marisa Tomei-like New York co-op board member and a Marie Antoinette-like goddess of now-defunct Blockbuster.
See some of our exclusive Lady Gaga coverage: