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How Reneé Rapp Broke the SNL Curse

Jenna Lawrence | Opinion Editor

On January 20th, 2024, Reneé Rapp performed her singles “Snow Angel” and “Not My Fault” (featuring Megan Thee Stallion) on Saturday Night Live – marking her first SNL performance. People all over TikTok, Twitter/X, and Instagram have all commended Rapp’s performance, and many have said she “broke the SNL curse.” 

What is the SNL curse? Specifically, the musical guest curse? The SNL-musical-guest-curse is a phenomenon that affects how well musical guests perform and the response they receive afterward. Often, celebrities who perform receive backlash and negative or hateful comments for their performance as the audience believes they did not sing well or as well as they should have. I guess that leads into the discussion of why audiences feel they can dictate who can and cannot sing live and feel the right to share their hateful opinions online. 

Musicians that have fallen victim to the SNL curse and received mixed reviews include Lana Del Rey in 2012, Kesha in 2010, Kanye West in 2008, and most recently, Olivia Rodrigo in 2023. Lana Del Rey’s performance in 2012 was considered uncomfortable, stiff, and pitchy. Kesha’s performance was supposed to be artistic with laser beams, aliens, and glow-in-the-dark aspects, and while people came to her defense, the performance as a whole was deemed horrible, with audience members thinking it was a skit. Kanye West’s 2008 performance of his songs “808s & Heartbreak” and “Love Lockdown” was extremely messy, as he used an electronic vocal effect that did not work correctly live, his voice cracked, and the backtrack had to be raised. In 2023, Olivia Rodrigo performed on SNL, too. While many fans were excited to see her performance, a lot of people felt it was a letdown. There is no denying Rodrigo can sing, however, her performance of “Vampire” was consistently flat and strained at the high notes. However, her performance of “All-American Bitch” was definitely a step up.  

As stated before, when musicians do not perform their best, it elicits judgment and criticism on the internet from people around the world. This “curse” can damage a musician’s reputation since SNL reaches such a broad audience and is so well-known. It can also greatly impact a person’s career. For example, after attempting lip-syncing and failing on SNL in 2004, Ashlee Simpson’s career basically ended overnight.  

And that brings us back to Reneé Rapp. Even though this was Rapp’s debut SNL performance, she gave audiences across the country a performance so memorable that solidified her as a powerhouse. Rapp sang her title track off of her first full album “Snow Angel.” “Snow Angel” is a song about resilience, as said by Rapp herself. It deals with themes of loneliness and inner turmoil and struggles. It includes winter imagery that brings to life those themes, as well. Rapp’s performance of this song brings to life a show that is deeply expressive, vulnerable, and raw. Her performance was real, as if audiences could feel her emotion through the television screen. Her live vocals were insane and brought something even deeper than the recorded version could. Combined with the physical element of her performance, as she sang a significant amount of the song lying down, and her technique and talent, her performance was incredible.  

Reneé Rapp also performed her contribution to the Mean Girls’ soundtrack “Not My Fault.” This song features Megan Thee Stallion and she was creatively brought to perform it after hiding in a giant cake on stage. This performance was fun, free, and entertaining. Rapp was on point as usual and brought to the stage a charismatic performance. Her and Megan Thee Stallion performed as a dynamic duo and simply did great.  

People online, on platforms such as Reddit, X, Instagram, and TikTok, leave reviews for Rapp’s performance that leave her as one of the best SNL musical guests. They regard her as crushing her performance, having vocals for days, and being powerful. Some say she “devoured” and “ate” her performance – slang for having done a really good job.  

Basically, Rapp performed on a stage, notoriously known for being difficult to sing on, and didn’t falter at all. That’s how she broke the SNL curse.  


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