The numbers were the show’s best since the January 7, 2012 episode hosted by Charles Barkley and featuring Kelly Clarkson as the musical guest. And that episode had the added bump of an NFL playoff game lead-in.
Timberlake’s most recent show was his fifth as host, and so his opening monologue included a star-studded welcome into the Five-Timers Club, featuring comedy legends such as Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Alec Baldwin. The added star power certainly didn’t hurt in the ratings department, and it didn’t end there: Jay-Z showed up unannounced during JT’s “Suit & Tie” performance.
Speaking of which, Timberlake used that song to deliver a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it response to Kanye West‘s recent diss about the track. If you’ll recall, in February Yeezy told a London crowd, “I got love for Hov, but I ain’t fuckin’ with that ‘Suit & Tie.’” So, during that very song on SNL, Justin changed one line in the second verse to, “My hit’s so sick got rappers acting dramatic,” pointing right at the camera during the change-up. (See it at the 2:15 mark). Cold as ice, classy as Hell.
Based on these ratings, it looks like we know who America will back during a JT-Kanye feud.