Michael Bolton returns to 'SNL' after 20 years: Best thing he did in between appearances?

Michael Bolton made his triumphant return to Saturday Night Live over the weekend guesting in a digital short with The Lonely Island in which his obsession with the Pirates of the Caribbean films heavily influenced the hook he wrote for Andy Samberg’s trio. Watch the video below. It’s the first time Bolton’s been on SNL since he was the musical guest in 1991 and took part in the memorable “We Are the World” spoof “Musicians for Free Range Chickens.” We’ve embedded that below as well. (If it gets taken down, here’s the transcript.)

What’s the best thing Bolton did in between appearances? Obviously, the correct response is cut his hair in 1997. Acceptable runner-ups include nailing both the final three notes of “Nessun Dorma” at 1995’s Pavarotti & Friends Together for the Children of Bosnia concert — I still love that Pavarotti gave them to him (watch that below, too) — and a 2005 Stupid Questions interview with EW. My favorite question: You were nominated for a Grammy for your cover of “Georgia on My Mind.” When Jamie Foxx won the Oscar for his performance in Ray, did you regret having turned down the role? His answer: “I think I would’ve had problems with the walk if I’d been Ray. [Laughs] Nobody could have gotten that walk down as good as Jamie.” Funny, right? That is also the conversation in which he and I phoned my mother to talk about how many buttons he should undo on his shirt for maximum hotness. Let’s relive that portion of the interview, in its full unedited glory, below as well.

Transcript of Michael Bolton calling my mother in 2005

Michael: You probably told her you were doing this.
Mandi: No, this is the thing: I told her I’d call her after the interview to tell her how great you were, but she has no idea you’ll be on the phone.
Michael: Let’s see if she can figure it out.
[Phone rings]
Joyce: Hello, Bierlys.
Michael: Joyce?
Joyce: Yes. [Thinking it’s a telemarketer, she almost hangs up]
Michael: Joyce, I’ve been speaking to your daughter Mandi.
Joyce: Uh huh.
Michael: And she said, I don’t know if this is true or not, but she said that you have some kind of fond memories of me.
Joyce: Oh my god, is this Michael Bolton!?!
Michael: Uh huh.
Joyce: [Now breathless] Oh my gosh. Yes, I do, very much.
Michael: When did you come and see us?
Joyce: I believe it was a Christmas show that you did in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I think it was a year-and-a-half or two years ago, and what I remember most was you closed with an operatic selection.
Michael: Isn’t that funny? So you remember the Italian.
Joyce: Yes, well, among other things, but that surprised me because I was surprised that you would be singing something like that in the quality that you did. It was really beautiful.
Michael: Wow, I want you to tell your daughter that.
Mandi: Mom, why don’t you tell him about calling him “sensual” and “mesmerizing.” That would be fun.
Michael: That whole thing happened because I was invited to sing with Pavarotti, and I had to study because I was singing in front of 15,000 Italians and then who ever watched it on TV. Millions of people. I started working with a coach, and he said, “Oh, this is easy for you. You’re a tenor.” I never even thought of myself as a tenor. And I started studying, and then I fell in love with some of that music and the one you’re talking about is “Nessun Dorma.”
Joyce: Yes. Yes.
Michael: Which brings down the house. It doesn’t matter how many hits you perform before it or after it, it steals the show every night.
Joyce: It was just beautiful. But “When a Man Loves a Woman” is still my favorite.
Michael: Really?
Joyce: And I did say “sensual” and “mesmerizing,” very much so.
Michael: “Mesmerizing!” The critics have spoken. “Mesmerizing!”
Joyce: That’s right.
Michael: Thank you very much. Where’s home base?
Joyce: Home base for me is Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Well, since I have you on…
Mandi: What are you doing, Mother?
Joyce: I would like to know if I could get an autographed picture.
Michael: I’ll hook it up through Mandi. Absolutely.
Joyce: Oh gosh, I appreciate this so much. Now our oldest daughter saw you –
Mandi: Okay, Mom.
Joyce: She was going to Virginia Tech, and she saw you before I did.
Michael: Mandi, you didn’t say that.
Mandi: I didn’t know that. I apologize.
Michael: You know everything.
Joyce: Mandi doesn’t know everything.
Michael: You know something, Mandi, you need to know more.
Mandi: I know how many buttons you undo on your shirt.
Michael: How many buttons do I undo, Joyce?
Joyce: Oh, I don’t know. [Flustered]. Four?
Michael: Should I button up higher?
Joyce: More! Oh yeah, six!
Michael: I think she’s saying the opposite.
Mandi: Yeah. He’s asking you if he should button up more, Mom.
Joyce: No, no, no, no, no, no. No. No.
Mandi: He’s thinking about just wearing turtlenecks now, Mom.
Joyce: Nooo. Although, he’s very becoming in turtlenecks, too.
Michael: Mandi, are you listening?
Joyce: A turtleneck and a sport jacket. Yes, very much so.
Mandi: Okay, there you go.
Joyce: And jeans.
Mandi: Okay, Mom.
Michael: Mandi’s blushing.
Mandi: And scene. Mom, maybe you’d like to hang up now?
Joyce: No I wouldn’t, but I will. But I must tell you that I certainly enjoy your music, and I have for quite awhile. Keep it going. We love ya.
Michael: Thank you very much. We’re gonna let Mandi know when we’re gonna perform in Pennsylvania and please come as my guest. Come see us backstage.
Joyce: Oh my god, thank you so much. [Possibly tearing up] Yes, I would love that. Well, you have a wonderful weekend.

(She still has photos from the concert framed.)

Read more:
‘Saturday Night Live’ review: Tina Fey celebrated Mother’s Day early

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Elizabeth


    • Jack

      That was the best music video I have ever seen.

  • PJ

    Wow, has it really been 20 years since the Musicians for Free Range Chickens sketch? I remember watching that when it first aired.

    • Kim

      I know! I still have it on tape. One of my favorite sketches ever. Chris Farley as Carnie Wilson, so wrong, so funny. I still quote “Diana Ross”, I love you, don’t touch me!

      • EC

        One of my alltime favs. Dana Carney was perfect in that.

  • Matt W

    That was the best thing on a crappy episode of SNL.

  • Madd

    I love that SNL video…it makes me miss Phil Hartman and Chris Farley even more.

  • heromommy

    Mandi your mom is hilarious!!! I agree with the above post..Bolton digital short and Stefon were the only good things that came out the episode!

  • eyeheartnyc

    That was hilarious (both the video and the call to your mom)

  • Mother Nature

    Hilarious. Thanks, Mandi. And your mom rocks.

  • Missy Homan

    Very sweet

  • Jackie

    I LOVED Michael on SNL… actually I’ve been a big fan since I was little (I’m 26 now). “Said I loved you, but I lied…” ahhh.
    Also Mandi your mom is so cute. “Mom, he’s asking if he should button UP.” “no, no, no no. No no no.” Hahahaha.

  • J.

    You guys are Hokies?? Go VT!!!

  • honeysweet

    Absolutely floored by his notes of Nessun Dorma

  • Allison

    I can so see my mom having a very similar conversation with Michael Bolton – this is amazing. And cutting his hair was a wise, wise move.

  • PN

    I thought he was good in that funny We Are The World-like skit. Musicians for Free Range Chickens? Does anybody do that now? That was during a time in the late ’80s/early ’90s when you had multiple artists doing charity songs for causes. It was near the time that they did the Voices that Care song in 1991, which had a similar arrangement. And also when Bolton had one of his best selling albums Time Love and Tenderness, which was heavy on those soaring power ballads he’s famous for. And for a moment, I was getting tired of that long hair at that point and was pleased that he shorn it in 1997.

  • PN

    That clip was very good. I guess Michael Bolton ditched his typical big power ballads with Desmond Child, Walter Afanasieff or Mutt Lange to sing over this funky hip-hop/R&B/urban track. Sounds like a RedOne, Brian Kennedy or Tricky Stewart/The Dream handled song with the icy synths. It’s almost like something from his album of last year. Those singers looked blank hearing his voice. And Michael doing the pirate, Forrest Gump and even a character from The Godfather or Scarface was ON! He had those characters on point in that video!

  • Ashleigh

    Mandi, I heart your mom! happy belated Mother’s day, Mandi’s mom!

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