Blake Shelton Twangs Out of Tune on SNL

Blake Shelton Twangs Out of Tune on SNL

Honestly, Blake? We're not mad. We're just disappointed.

Shelton's hosting/performing gig on Saturday Night Live this week is a lesson in coulda-woulda-shoulda: He could've brought a bit of country to the concrete jungle, and he could've downplayed the differences between the big city and the small-town sensibilities embraced by his music and persona. Despite some great comedic moments, an epic fake music video in "Wishin' Boot," and perfectly respectable renditions of "Boys 'Round Here" and "Neon Light," he stayed straight in the confines of assumption and delivered exactly the kind of episode we'd anticipate from someone who may as well be dubbed Music Row's Hollywood ambassador. He did what pop-country stars are expected to do by those who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the genre: He banked on the easy jokes and became a cartoon of himself that grew more ridiculous with every punchline, and he threw a pall over his performance (and country music on the whole) in the process.

He gave the haters what they wanted — and that's a problem, as Shelton's hokey routine set his songs up to fail.

Shelton is a strong performer with an exceptional voice and stage presence for days. His charm jumps off the TV screen when he's pushing country talent to the forefront on The Voice. He provides a bit of gallantry when his colleagues tip their cowboy hats and warble about trucks and beers and other stereotypical nouns that pepper the lyrics of popular country tunes (even though his biggest hit to date, "Boys 'Round Here," is basically the bro-iest country anthem that ever did bro). He's insanely likable, in spite of embracing his status as a walking, whiskey-swillin' country character, and he was a perfect fit for the latest person to try their hand at both hosting and performing their music on the storied late-night program.

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Instead of using SNL as an opportunity to break through to a new audience — a/k/a not the CMT-watching set — "Neon Light" and "Boys 'Round Here" delivered Shelton at his Grand Ole Opry best. Flawless vocals, exceptional harmonies, and a tight band were all par for the course, especially on "Neon Light," but how a person can sit through "Boys 'Round Here" without cringing at the mimed praying and dougie jokes after an entire episode that poked relentless fun at Shelton's (proud!) redneck tendencies is beyond me.

And hey, SNL's typical viewer isn't Shelton's typical audience, and maybe these songs were intended to satisfy his tried-and-true fan base instead of a new crowd. Maybe these jokes feel a little less pointed to those who are used to them. Still, Shelton's turn in Studio 8H could've been more than a lesson in How to Keep Pop Country Stereotypes Going, and it's a shame that he couldn't get out of his own way in that regard.

As for the internet? Shelton fans raved, country haters crowed, and a lot of people had no idea who the hell he was. (Kelly Clarkson approved, though.)

The original American Idol thought he was hilarious.

So did CMT.

But is that a GOOD thing, though?

I'm sure the whole "Say a prayer to the man upstairs" thing balanced things out for your pops.

MDMAmericana?

Can't tell if these are happy or sad tears but either way #feelingz

But who IS Blake Shelton, really? (Hint: Not Vince Vaughn. Or Chris Pratt.)

roflttylwtfbbq

Idk there are probably actually like, maybe 200, but still, NBC, you could've made Oklahoma's night!

And finally: If that ain't the Chevy calling the Chevy a Chevy.

We review every live musical performance on Saturday Night Live every Sunday.



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