Snl Adam Levine
Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC

Adam Levine last appeared Saturday Night Live back in November, serving as the musical guest for Jeremy Renner’s lackluster show. Between American Horror Story: Asylum and the upcoming Can a Song Save Your Life?, Levine is clearly trying to make that oh-so-difficult transition from music into acting, but can he do it? The jury’s still out. Last night’s episode wasn’t perfect, but on the whole it seemed to be better than most of the SNL fare we’ve seen of late. I’m just not sure that was thanks to Levine.

The night kicked off with a cold opening in the vein of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. After a long day at the inauguration, Jay Pharaoh’s Obama is visited by none other than the ghost of Martin Luther King Jr. Obama’s thrilled — here is a real icon! Who better to ask for guidance on debt ceilings and the economy? But alas, Dr. King’s only interested in Michelle’s bangs (“she guest-starring on New Girl?”) and “that girl Beyoncé.” An oh-so-subtle commentary on the state of our society, SNL. With all the drama surrounding Beyoncé’s lip syncing, I was honestly hoping for something more.

Thank the heavens for Adam Levine and his bare chest. I was terrified the show would go the route of a musical monologue (and in fairness to Levine, he is actually a singer, unlike, say, Jeremy Renner so he at least deserves a musical monologue), but instead we got a fabulous Voice spoof featuring none other than Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld! Diaz’s crazy antics were a spot-on imitation of Christina Aguilera (though it was that hat that really sold me) and Seinfeld’s deadpan delivery made me long for The Marriage Ref (yes, I watched it and I miss it, okay?). The two fought over whether Levine should take his shirt off (is this even a question?) and thankfully shirtless glory won out.

And then SNL had to ruin it with a bizarre Rosetta Stone commercial about people learning Thai to better enjoy the country’s sex trade… or something? Ha ha. Or not.

What better way to follow up a joke about Thailand’s sex trade than with The Gay Network’s advice show with Tracy Allstar and Todd Anthony (a.k.a. Kenan Thompson and Levine)? The best part of this sketch was Levine’s hair. The worst part was everything else. Watch at your own peril.

I was starting to think that Levine’s shirtlessness would be the high of the whole episode, but then came this gem of a faux-promo for The Sopranos Diaries. I could watch a whole show just about Tony Soprano visiting his high school guidance counselor. (“Do you understand the pressure that I’m under? I’ve got a science project that’s two weeks late, I’m five chapters behind in A Tale of Two Cities and I don’t have a freaking date to the dance.”) My only criticism? That Entertainment Weekly would be anything less than thrilled to see this show. Make it happen, NBC!

And then we were back to weird. But a Bill Hader kind of weird (i.e. a good kind of weird in my book). “Firehouse Incident” was mostly just a chance to let Hader unleash a maddening falsetto (“Shut up! Shut up! Shuuuuuut uuuuppp!”), so if you’re not a big fan of high-pitched speech, I could see how this would have been annoying. Still, in the midst of all his screaming, Hader landed some great lines (“This isn’t how firefighters treat each other! Did you see Backdraft?”) and by the end of it, even his shrieking didn’t bother me. (Side note: was it just me or did Hader’s arms look really good in that polo?)

The Lonely Island!!!!!!!! That’s all my notes read for this Digital Short and new favorite song, which rapped a cautionary tale. YOLO, guys! So always wear a chastity belt and triple lock it. Complete with appearances from Levine and musical guest Kendrick Lamar (as an accountant singing about 401Ks and real estate), this was the best thing to come out of SNL in a while.

Next up was Lamar, singing “Swimming Pools,” which you can check out below, followed by the Weekend Update. Nasim Pedrad whipped out her sexed-up Arianna Huffington to talk Hillary Clinton and Congress (and to hit on “Sex Meyers”), but truthfully I was more interested in Philadelphia’s bacon taco. (Bacon makes everything better.) The segment closed with Thompson’s Ray Lewis, who disappointingly did not bust out the football player’s signature dance, but certainly captured his fanatical energy. I don’t know if the Ravens will win the Super Bowl (and personally I’m pulling for Colin Kaepernick), but if they do, I fully believe Ray Lewis will simply kneel down in the end zone and “ascend into heaven,” detached retina and all.

Speaking of football (or you know, just Manti Te’o), a Catfish spoof followed Weekend Update. “As always I just woke up and the cameras caught me disheveled and cute,” said Levine as Nev. “How embarrassing.” Levine nailed the self-centered host, but the real star of this sketch was Brian Williams’ head photoshopped onto an Abercrombie model’s abs. Or maybe they’re Brian Williams’ real abs. I wouldn’t put it past him.

After Lamar’s rendition of “Poetic Justice,” we were treated to “Adam and Janet,” starring Levine and Bobby Moynihan. Though he should’ve been out with his bandmates, Adam just couldn’t resist the charms of Janet (“How could you not look at me? I take up most of your field of vision.”) There was a lot of kissing and fondling and Danny Glover, but the biggest tease was seeing Levine undo his belt buckle. Sighhhh. I guess I will content myself with just the chest.

SNL closed out the night with “Biden Bash,” a short clip advertising Joe Biden’s wanna-be inauguration to be held in Delaware, “a place that knows how to party.” Be sure to watch his Kung Fu Exhibition.

All in all, it was a decent night, especially after a disappointing episode from Jennifer Lawrence. I’d be happy to see Levine back again (though I hope he learns to read better from his cue cards). And The Lonely Island is always welcome. What was your favorite sketch, readers? What do you use Rosetta Stone for? (Don’t answer that.) Does Bill Hader have nice arms? Have you tried a bacon taco? Happy Sunday!

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Episode Recaps

Bowen Yang
Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

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