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'Saturday Night Live' recap: Adam Levine came back for one more night

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!

Read more:
Adam Levine hosts tonight’s ‘Saturday Night Live': Talk about it here!
‘Saturday Night Live’ host poll: Was Jennifer Lawrence a girl on fire?
‘Saturday Night Live’ recap: It was ‘Mission: Impossible’ for Jeremy Renner

Adam Levine hosts tonight's 'Saturday Night Live': Talk about it here!

On November 17 of last year, Adam Levine served as SNL‘s musical guest — along with his band, Maroon 5 — in an episode hosted by Jeremy Renner. Just two months later, he’s back in Studio 8H once more — but this time, as Saturday Night Live‘s host. Is the Voice coach’s latest SNL gig nothing more than a case of NBC synergy gone awry, or does Levine have the chops to impress even when he’s not employing that famous falsetto?

We’ll find out soon enough. Take comfort, though, in knowing that at least this won’t be Levine’s first acting experience. The musician was fine as Leo on American Horror Story‘s recently ended second season, although he didn’t have much to do; still, series creator Ryan Murphy praised Levine’s “great movie star charisma,” which bodes well for his Saturday Night Live hosting. Levine also got a small taste of SNL-style comedy when he sang the hook for the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-skewing “Iran So Far” digital short in 2007, though he was more of a straight man there than anything else. READ FULL STORY

Adam Levine finds his 'Voice' in 'Saturday Night Live' promos -- VIDEO

Psst, DIYers: If you’ve got a normal office chair, a few sheets of red poster board, and a bunch of tape, you have all you need to make your very own imitation Voice swivel thrones.

That’s just what SNL did for this week’s promos, which feature host Adam Levine and cast member Bobby Moynihan. The pair’s charmingly lo-fi props would be right at home in a “Laser Cats” video — and they really elevate Levine and Moynihan’s series of Voice jokes. Not bad for the “Drunk Uncle” guy’s first promos, eh?

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'The Voice' season 3 finale: Who will win? UPDATED

In the meantime, though, we’ll enjoy a night of star-studded duets — word on the street is that Cassadee Pope will sing a number with her soundalike idol Avril Lavigne, while Terry McDermott will do a tune with British rocker Peter Frampton and Nicholas David will meet his match in the iconic Smokey Robinson — and big-name performances by the likes of Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, and the Killers. Hopefully, a full hour will also be devoted to Voice Confessionals and dispatches from Christina Milian in the Sprint Skybox™.

So come, Voice fans, and unleash your finale thoughts below. I’ll update the post once a winner has been crowned — and don’t forget to check back even later for a full recap of the whole shebang.

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'The Voice': Who's your favorite going into the finale? POLL

The Voice is many things: an absorbing talent show, an extended high-end chair commercial, a crazy wig parade, NBC’s blessed ratings savior. That said, it hasn’t yet proven itself to be a reliable starmaker. Past Voice winners Javier Colon and Jermaine Paul have had limited success on the national stage, though Paul’s fortunes may change when his debut album drops later this week. Runners up like Dia Frampton and Chris Mann have had slightly more luck, but they’re still nowhere near the level of, say, Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood (let alone Jordin Sparks).

All that might change, though, when The Voice crowns its third winner tomorrow night. Every one of season 3’s finalists is talented; what’s more, each of the three has a specific niche that may make them more commercially viable than the R&B-singing Javier and Jermaine.

Terry McDermott of Team Blake is a Scottish classic rocker with a charming, lilting voice and a signature personal style (business in the front, party in the back). His teammate, Cassadee Pope, is an Avril Lavigne-esque pop rock singer who can also do a convincing country twang. And Team Cee Lo’s Nicholas David is a creature unlike any seen on reality TV before: a soft-spoken, deep-voiced ’70s funkster whose groove is as charmingly retro as his beard.

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Adam Levine calls 'Honey Boo Boo' the 'decay of Western civilization'

Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Everyone, just leave Honey Boo Boo child alone!

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine is officially driving the “I hate Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” bandwagon. Well, hate is an understatement. The Voice judge told GQHoney Boo Boo is the DECAY of Western civilization.” READ FULL STORY

Jeremy Renner hosts tonight's 'Saturday Night Live': Talk about it here!

The last time a fair-haired actor best known for his onscreen intensity made his SNL hosting debut, things didn’t turn out so well. Daniel Craig was game but never fully comfortable on Saturday Night Live, and the material he was given — a weirdly un-topical set of sketches about construction workers, a space mission, and Fred Armisen in a skirt — didn’t help matters. So is Jeremy Renner, a similarly serious star, destined to deliver a similarly underwhelming performance?

Even though Renner’s SNL promos were pretty rote, I’m going to give the Oscar nominee the benefit of the doubt. His skills as an impressionist are untested, but he’s given witty performances in action movies like The Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – and Renner also told EW earlier this week that he’s planning to follow advice given to him by SNL pro (and his co-star in The Town) Jon Hamm. I can’t think of a better Saturday Night Live role model, unless Renner also consulted with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.

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The People's Choice Awards nominees are ...

Image Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Now that you’ve cast your ballot for the president of the United States, it’s time to turn you attention to another, equally important competition: the People’s Choice Awards. With categories ranging from “favorite movie” to “favorite music fan following,” your voice needs to heard.

Maroon 5 frontman and The Voice judge Adam Levine leads the list of nominees with six nods in both the music and television categories, while Justin Bieber is the top individual nominee with five music nods. The two artists with will go head-to-head in the favorite album and favorite music video categories, forcing you to choose between the two men with the best head of hair and the highest pitched voice in the industry. Too bad Justin Timberlake isn’t in the running. READ FULL STORY

Monday Night TV: Which show will you watch live? -- POLL

Image credit: Mark Seliger/NBC

The unofficial first day of the fall TV season is always bittersweet. Yes, your beloved shows are back on the air, yes, your summer favorites are taking their final bow, and yes, anticipated new series are debuting, but what do you watch live when these shows have competing timeslots? With the season premiere of NBC’s The Voice and the season finale of ABC’s Bachelor Pad both airing at 8 p.m. EST, which TV show will get your undivided, live attention? It’s the ultimate war of reality TV competitions!

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'The X Factor' vs. 'The Voice': Which gets your vote? POLL

Oh, it’s on.

The Voice is officially challenging The X Factor for the title of Biggest Non-Idol Singing Show. NBC just announced that next week, it will air The Voice on three consecutive nights rather than two — meaning that on Wednesday, the series’ third audition episode will go head to head with The X Factor‘s season premiere on Fox.

Simon Cowell isn’t too pleased about this development: “This is a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business,” he told TMZ today, explaining he thought NBC and Fox had a “gentleman’s agreement” to air The Voice on Mondays and Tuesdays, while X Factor would appear Wednesdays and Thursdays. “Britney’s not going to appreciate the fact that Christina — who has been a bit of a rival — isn’t allowing Britney to have a night of her own,” Cowell added. And whether or not Cowell’s assessment is correct, these shows are clearly engaged in a battle for melismatic dominance.

So, what will it be: Britney or Christina? Flash or substance? Chairs or another kind of chair? Let’s examine what we know about both The Voice Season 3 and The X Factor Season 2, category by category:

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