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A Decade of SNL Musical Sketches

dick in a box 500x334 A Decade of SNL Musical SketchesHow many comedy sketch shows could survive—even thrive—amid the upheaval shaped by the changing viewing habits of the 00s? Maybe just one: Saturday Night Live, the now-35-year-old institution that managed to entertain us even as TV networks strained to figure out whether viewers were more likely to tune in to “appointment television,” a “season pass” on TiVo, or most recently, on Hulu.

SNL evolved right along with television itself, and nowhere did it experiment with new techniques more than in its musical sketches. Recurring bits featuring “The Demarco Brothers” gave way to iPod-ready “Digital Short” mini-videos starring the Lonely Island guys. Along the way, SNL revealed that some of our favorite artists have deliciously wicked senses of humor. What’s next the show? We don’t know, but we bet it will require “more cowbell.” Check the decade’s best SNL musical moments.

It’s almost hard to believe that the now infamous “cowbell” sketch is from April of 2000. Christopher Walken plays music producer “The Bruce Dickinson” helping Blue Oyster Cult lay down “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz are left clinging to their composure, and who can blame them? Once you glimpse Will Ferrell’s bellybutton, it’s all over.

Chris Parnell and Chris Kattan play the Demarco brothers, two aspiring stars whose excitement over their proximity to famous audition judges far outstrips their talent. The brothers tried out for the likes of Britney Spears and Paul Simon, but rarely fared better than they did in this sketch, from 2001, in which the pair performs for Bon Jovi.

We’re guessing that most Justin Timberlake fans have little if any idea of who Barry Gibb is, and Justin wasn’t even born when Saturday Night Fever first hit the screen. That didn’t stop “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” co-hosted by JT and Jimmy Fallon, from becoming an SNL favorite. The first sketch of the polyester duo aired in 2003.

Two words: Lazy Sunday. The music video recounting a casual day off for Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg spoke to nerds, cupcake lovers, and Mr. Pibb drinkers everywhere. The sketch premiered in December of 2005 and was then made available for free download on iTunes. It was as if Lorne Michaels said, “All right. Let’s give this Internet thing a go.”

In 2006, the Lonely Island guys brought us another successful Digital Short with “Natalie’s Rap,” which starred Natalie Portman, revealing her inner bad-ass in faux-gritty black and white. Instant classic.

Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg show viewers this musical step-by-step guide to the most romantic holiday gift with December 2006’s “D*ck in a Box”. This sketch also gave douchey guys the Halloween costume they’d been waiting for in 2007.

Justin Timberlake brings the funny again with this 2007 “Omeletteville” sketch, which later spawned three other hilarious incarnations of singing street advertisers: “Homelessville”, “Plasticville”, and “Turkeyville”.

Kristin Wiig joined the cast of SNL in late 2005, bringing a breath of fresh air to the franchise. Her strange, quirky, and outlandish characters and celebrity impersonations, like this one of singer Bjork in a spoof of Sundance Channel’s Iconclasts, is one of the reasons audiences continue to tune in week after week.

In the fall of 2008, Tina Fey’s appearance on SNL as Sarah Palin drew all the attention—except when “The Lawrence Welk Show” musical sketch instructed us on the best use of fake baby hands ever and added the phrase “with my by myself” to the lexicon.

You knew we’d get here, right? Turns out T-Pain’s vocal treatments were hiding not just his real singing voice but a great sense of humor, as he appears in the stunning rap video send-up “I’m on a Boat” with the Lonely Island crew. Since debuting in February 2009, the video has been viewed online more than 39 million times and even earned a Grammy nomination this year.

It seemed that nothing Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake could do could ever top “D*ck in a Box” until “Motherlover” aired in SNL’s Mother’s Day episode earlier this year.

SNL ended the year and the decade on a high note, pairing Rihanna with Andy Samberg in “Shy Ronnie”, a digital short about a school-aged rapper named Ronnie who’s a little, well, shy.


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