Has “Saturday Night Live” finally gone country?
Recently it was announced that award-winning country music group the Zac Brown Band will be appearing as the musical guest on the March 7 episode to be hosted by actor Chris Hemsworth. Zac Brown Band will appear on ‘SNL’ in support of their newest single “Homegrown” and an upcoming, as of yet unnamed album to be released at some point in 2015.
The announcement of Zac Brown Band as musical guest comes on the heels of country superstar and “The Voice” coach Blake Shelton recently serving as both host and musical guest on ‘SNL’ on Jan. 24.
In its 40-year history “Saturday Night Live” has mostly ignored country music, even though the genre has statistically been the most popular in the United States at least when it comes to the number of radio stations supporting the genre for a good portion of the show’s run.
The show has aired 780 episodes to date, with over 800 musical guests (many episodes early on during the show’s run featured multiple musical guests), and there have only been a measly 20 episodes featuring a country music act as musical guest. This doesn’t include the episodes hosted by Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, which had separate musical guests. Zac Brown Band will make the 21st. In total there have only been 16 different country acts, counting the Zac Brown Band, as Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift have all appeared more than once.
I was frankly shocked when I heard that Zac Brown Band would be performing on ‘SNL’ because I felt that ‘SNL’ had already met its country music quota for about five years with Blake Shelton and also felt like Zac Brown Band was too country for the show. Shelton has crossover appeal being on NBC’s “The Voice” and previous acts like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have crossover pop appeal. Zac Brown Band is going to be the most country act, by far, to appear on ‘SNL’ since Garth Brooks in the late ‘90s.
It was so shocking that the show had booked a second country music act on the same season that I had to research whether or not multiple country music acts had ever appeared in the same season before and it has only happened once previously in the 40 years the show has been on the air – in season 32 when both Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. Prior to that season there hadn’t been a single country music act on the show in seven seasons, which is the longest streak in the show’s history without a country music act. I’ll save you the epic rant on how ridiculous it is to go seven whole seasons (nearly 150 episodes) without a single musical act from one of the most popular, if not the most popular, genres of music in the country.
But, on March 7 the Zac Brown Band will attempt to make up for four decades of a mostly snubbed genre at Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center.
Maybe the show has finally noticed that the rest of the country has gone country and will start booking shows accordingly? Or maybe the booking of the Zac Brown Band is a mere fluke and it’ll be another few years before we see another country music act appear on the show? Only time will tell.