Who Did ‘SNL’ Better — Travis Kelce or Taylor Swift?
Hey, did you hear Taylor Swift went to Travis Kelce’s football game on Sunday? We heard that he let her wear his letterman’s jacket! The two could-be, might-be lovebirds seem like they’re made for each other — both famous, both adorable, and both unexpectedly great on Saturday Night Live. But Swift and Kelce live for competition — simply saying both killed the comedy isn’t enough. Which superstar actually won Saturday Night Live? Let’s go to the tape.
The strangest part of Swift’s monologue — featuring Monologue Song (La La La) — is how subdued the audience is at the offset. If someone were to hand Swift a guitar on the SNL stage in 2023, we imagine the place would freaking explode. Here? Nothing. Not that it matters to Swift, a cold killer even at age 20 in 2009. By the time she starts dissing old lovers, one of her most potent superpowers, she’s got the crowd in the palm of her hand.
Kelce can’t match Swift’s confidence in front of a live audience, which makes sense — she lives on a stage while he’s usually on artificial turf with his face covered by a helmet. He fidgets with a pinkie ring while powering his way through a self-effacing monologue, aided by his stone-faced brother Jason. “Tonight, I’m going to give it everything I got,” Kelce exclaims, and that enthusiasm goes a long way. But better than Swift? Not this time, Travis.
AV Club called Kelce’s hosting gig the season’s best episode, built on the strength of sketches like this Please Don’t Destroy bit. Kelce perfectly embodies Kurt Lightning, a self-defense guru who promises to build up the weak-minded and feeble-bodied before destroying the boys in front of their classmates. It’s a hilarious combo of social discomfort and physical comedy, with the charismatic Kelce showing that he has a future in the movies as the next John Cena or Dwayne Johnson.
And back in 2009, Entertainment Weekly proclaimed Swift’s show was the best episode of Season 34. Swift shows immense promise as a comic actress, although she probably goes to the biting-her-lip move one too many times in this Twilight parody. Is it fair to hold her performance in the movie Cats against her? Nope, but here we are.
Best musical performance
Let’s see — to which musical artists would SNL give a ten-minute slot to fill how they will? There’s Taylor Swift and … well, that’s about it. The fact that Swift absolutely mesmerizes during this 2021 performance only justifies the decision. The Atlantic proclaimed that her SNL rendition of “All Too Well” stopped time: “As she moved through different phases of action — still at the start, light headbanging in the middle, dreamy swaying at the end — she created a sense of progression. Meanwhile, she used her eyes as an instrument by flicking her gaze into the camera to deliver the most damning lines, as if directly to her ex. Though her band was far away from her for most of the performance, two backup singers pulled up beside her for the chilling final refrain, cementing the feeling that an exorcism had been completed and Swift was ready to reenter the world.”
The fact that she delivered a hilarious cameo in the Three Sad Virgins video that same night, as well as appearing as a musical guest multiple times over the past 15 years, just makes her SNL musical career that much more triumphant.
Kelce didn’t sing during his recent SNL hosting stint, but he has shown up on Jimmy Fallon to shout his way through “Fight For Your Right.” Let’s just say that as a musician, Kelce is one hell of a tight end.
Advantage and overall winner: Swift.