Blake Shelton takes over ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend: Talk about it here!

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Blake Shelton bumbles over ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ on ‘Tonight’: ‘That’s a person?!’.

Perhaps that’s an unfair statement. This weekend, Blake Shelton will do the most mainstream American of mainstream American things: Be the host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” Shelton is the first country singer to host the famed late-night sketch show since Taylor Swift, who took the stage in November 2009, way back when she was decidedly still a country star.“What You Missed”: On “The Tonight Show,” Fallon was pretty much mocking country music, and it didn’t seem like Blake Shelton was too happy about it!Upcoming Saturday Night Live host and The Voice coach Blake Shelton stopped by The Tonight Show Thursday — and his visit turned into a bit of a concert. It’s a fitting, pass-the-baton situation: Now that Swift has officially defected to the pop world, Nashville needs a new face of mainstream country music.

Inspired by the trend of the same name currently sweeping YouTube, Fallon and the country crooner took turns wearing headphones (with tunes blasting) while the other read a phrase aloud. And finally, indie rock royalty, The Decemberists, sang YouTube comments on “Kimmel!” If you’re a country music fan, are you offended by Fallon’s silly country songs?

During his appearance on Thursday’s Tonight Show, Shelton humored the host with a modern-day game of telephone, “The Whisper Challenge,” which has become a viral trend on YouTube. It won’t look stupid. “SNL” host portraits — some zany, some smart, some downright suave — exhibit a consistent track record of cool artistry, and with their blink-and-they’re-gone impact they have always served the show’s sense of downtown elan.

After Fallon attempted to impress Shelton by essentially ruining his songs, Shelton looks into Fallon’s eyes, smiles his charming Blake Shelton smile, and drawls, “I seriously can’t stand you.” His easygoing, down-home charm and likable banter with his fellow coaches—especially Adam Levine, who was tapped to pull double duty on SNL himself two years ago—both made Shelton the hit show’s breakout star and indicate that he’d be more than comfortable in a variety show setting. They are part of what makes “SNL” “SNL.” Since 1999, they have been the weekly creation of Mary Ellen Matthews, who on Tuesday, for something like the 300th time, was doing it again, keeping it fresh and making it look easy. It happened to Swift unwittingly: She became so famous with her early albums that it seemed only natural that she became country’s ambassador to the general public.

Until this final setup outside Rockefeller Center — a last-minute inspiration by Matthews for which Shelton was game and stagehands swiftly toted the fence-prop out to 49th Street —the session had taken place indoors, in Studio 8H. “So this is where it all happens! When the show host took a turn wearing the headphones, his guest was perplexed by the Oscar nominee’s name on the card: Benedict Cumberbatch, who is up for Best Actor for The Imitation Game. He’s a frequent late-night guest, particularly on his home network’s franchises—and through those visits, Shelton has proven that he knows how to fully commit to a bit, no matter how silly it may be. On a stage to the right of “home base” (where Shelton five days hence would deliver his opening routine), Matthews’ lights were arranged against a neutral-colored seamless background. The best example is probably this Tonight Show clip, in which Shelton teams with Jimmy Fallon, Nick Offerman, and Tonight writer Chris Tartaro to perform a cover of The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey”… while dressed in giant chicken suits.

It’s been in the works for awhile, ever since Shelton was cast as a coach and mentor of NBC’s hit “The Voice,” the only singing competition to endure as “American Idol” marches quietly toward reality TV afterlife. Taking his place in front of the lights, he quoted a fellow country singer as declaring, “I have two poses and you’ve got one hour,” and laughed at such bullheadedness.

His TV-ready quips, his musical chops, his sweet, genuine bond with contestants and his lightning-speed banter with fellow coach Adam Levine all endeared him to viewers. Oh, and for the purposes of this hypothetical argument, Timberlake doesn’t count.) Either way, we can expect to see Shelton’s episode feature numerous jokes about rednecks, the NFL’s ridiculous Deflate-Gate scandal (which has “cold open” written all over it), the State of the Union address (and President Obama’s cheeky wink), American Sniper (and the controversy surrounding it), and Adam Levine. He lands long magazine profiles that play up his “country boy in the big city” shtick. (Whenever he spots a deer in Los Angeles, he sure wishes he had his hunting rifle!) The tabloids obsess about his marriage to fellow superstar Miranda Lambert (every week there’s a new story how they’re supposedly madly in love, ready to break up, or expecting a baby).

Clad in jeans and a velvet jacket, she was coltish but deliberate, capturing Shelton with her Canon 1DX (she went digital a decade ago but still misses her Hasselblad’s “analog feel and the magic of not knowing what you’ve got until it’s processed”). From Tuesday’s no-wait harvest, Matthews would have to cull a total of nine images for possible use on Saturday’s telecast, which will conclude a busy week that began for her on Monday with brainstorming and other preparations.

Part of the reason Shelton managed to accomplish this rare type of fame, aside from the TV show that broadcasts him into millions of home every week, is the same way Swift attracted attention far beyond country music’s borders: She stayed true to her image, and it was one that people (beyond just country fans) liked a whole lot. Thursday typically requires a photo session with the musical guest (not needed this week, since Shelton is pulling double duty), and Friday calls for applying to the handful that Matthews has chosen enhanced color and other digital sorcery (her neutral shooting background, for instance, can be transformed into any hue, design or location). Matthews joined “SNL” 22 years ago as assistant to Edie Baskin, the show’s original photographer who in 1975 had established its enduring visual identity. Matthews calls her “my hero and my mentor.” When Baskin left in 1999, Matthews took over. “My father had a darkroom and I was in there 24/7,” she recalled when the Shelton session had wrapped. “He used to have little contests between me and my brother and three sisters: We’d each shoot one frame and pass the camera around, and he’d judge which frame was the best.”

But this works for Shelton, who plays the role of a guy amused to find himself so famous: After all, we really want our celebrities to be just like us. He often emphasizes that he spends as much time as possible in his home state of Oklahoma. “I literally leave the show, go to the house, and shut the gate,” he told Men’s Journal. “The only people’s houses that I’ve been to in L.A. are [‘Voice’ stars] Adam Levine’s, Christina Aguilera’s, [executive producer] Mark Burnett’s, and Michael Bublé’s.” Yet those are still some pretty famous names.

Along with Adam Levine, he’s remained on “The Voice” for all seven seasons (and the upcoming eighth) and is a frequent guest on late-night talk shows. While any song Shelton releases goes straight to the top of the country radio charts (he’s had a dozen No. 1 songs in a row, and his current single “Lonely Tonight” looks to be on its way), his sales aren’t what they used to be, and he hasn’t had the same success in mainstream charts.

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