Katy Perry has returned to Studio 8H. Joined by host Willem Dafoe, this is her fourth time as a musical guest on SNL and her first since 2017.
A lot has happened since Perry’s last SNL appearance five years ago: motherhood, a new album, a judging spot on American Idol, and most recently, a residency in Las Vegas. Titled Play, the show began at the tail end of 2021 and will run through the end of summer 2022. While Perry hasn’t seen as much chart success lately, she seems more confident and self-assured in a post-Witness world.
The episode began with a cold open, featuring James Austin Johnson as President Biden dealing with the Russia-Ukraine situation. Pete Davidson appeared as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who refuses to get vaccinated for COVID.
Rodgers wasn’t the only NFL player to appear tonight. Peyton Manning made a surprise appearance during Weekend Update, where he gushed about Emily in Paris whenever Colin Jost asked him about football news.
Katy Perry’s first song of the night was “When I’m Gone,” her new collaboration with Swedish DJ Alesso. With set pieces ripped straight from Super Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom, it’s clear that she hasn’t lost her signature camp. The song’s lyrics are about a previous romance, but they could easily be about Perry’s relationship with fame and stardom. Around the time of her last SNL appearance, everything from her music to her blonde pixie cut was criticized after a seemingly unstoppable run throughout the 2010s.
Perry closed out the night with an acoustic rendition of “Never Really Over,” her 2019 comeback single. Originally an upbeat dance-pop song, the new version has more in common with her ballads like “Thinking of You.”
SNL takes a break during the Winter Olympics, then returns on February 26 with host John Mulaney and musical guest LCD Soundsystem.