One of the season’s dreariest SNL outings was at least partially salvaged by — surprise! — host and musical guest Ariana Grande, who not only was game for any mediocrity thrown her way but showed off appealing comic gifts through it all. Check out this bit, set at “Tidal Streaming Music” HQ. Grande plays meek-as-a-mouse intern Chloë, who shows up (complete with baggy sweater and horn-rimmed specs) in the studio just as the service’s various pop star streams go down like dominoes. That gives Grande an opportunity to deliver spot-in impersonations of Britney Spears, Shakira, Rihanna and Celine Dion (asked to do Ariana Grande, she demurs with a shrug: “Sorry, not a big fan”) to save the day.
She ended with an over-the-fences Whitney Houston belting “I Will Always Love You” as Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah, Sasheer Zamata and Bobby Moynihan looked on in rapt appreciation. Well done. As for the rest, the political bits — including Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton transforming into Hillary Sanders in a desperate ploy to increase her appeal — and “Weekend Update” were meh.