Remember when “Stay With Me” dropped and everyone scrambled to learn more about Sam Smith, the baby-faced British crooner that showed up out of nowhere to remind us that England’s got more to offer to pop than the distant promise of a new Adele album and One Direction’s tattoos? His Saturday Night Live performance was the beacon at the beginning of his ascent to fame, and Hozier, the smoldering singer-songwriter also hailing from the northernmost reaches of the Atlantic, is following in his footsteps.
See also: Sam Smith SLAYED Saturday Night Live
Despite the fact that plenty heard “Bill Hader and Hozier” were this week’s SNL pairing and responded in turn with a confused “Huh?,” the Irish blues-monger worked the benefits of being a relatively unknown talent stateside to his advantage. If SNL‘s viewing public has no idea who you are, they’re not inclined to hate you based on your previous accomplishments or love you blindly for your glory days. They’ve got expectations–that you don’t suck, really–and they leave it at that. Long before his self-titled debut dropped last Tuesday, Hozier was turning heads with “Take Me To Church,” the stirring single coupling imploring lyrics with a soulful melody that echoes long after its last note. The song doubled as a human rights anthem when its music video took a decidedly political shade as a statement against homophobia, and between the striking visuals and haunting chorus, “Take Me To Church” became a single with substance that forced you to process the notes unfolding before you with a sincerity overwhelmingly absent from pop at present.
With “Take Me To Church” on the SNL stage, Hozier channeled the gravitas the song’s come to embrace while delivering a steady, strong performance complete with strings and vibrant back-up singers. Was it perfect? Not quite, but Hozier’s voice more than made up for a lagging tempo, the occasional wrong note and a weird mix that had him dominating the dramatic build behind him. A fantastic step forward and a leg-up on the ascent to stardom anyway? Yup. “Take Me To Church” brought about chills, and Hozier’s impending household name status went from “maybe” to “definitely” in a matter of four minutes.
As for “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene,” any morose tendencies or dark vibes dissipated with its driving beat and Southern Gothic dressing. The guy’s from Ireland, sure, but those riffs and rolls sound like they were rooted in the delta of the Mississippi before Hozier opted to wade in and harvest them for his own interpretation.
Like Smith before him, Hozier was ready for the spotlight SNL cast upon him, and the major network showcase could do wonders for the man whose debut fell upon unsuspecting ears just a week ago. Not to be blasé about it, but yeah: there was no question that Smith would go on to be a superior talent and one of the most talked about discoveries of 2014. There’s little doubt Hozier will join him on that pedestal, and SNL could be the match that lit the flame of a storied career.
And for once? The internet totally didn’t come after the SNL musical guest with torches and pitchforks.
If ODing on emoji was a thing, the internet collectively would’ve done so last night over “Take Me To Church.” Why voice your appreciation for Hozier when you can do so with a heart-eyed smiley face?
hozier on snl last night though
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