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SNL's First Musical Guest Of 2022 Exited Over COVID, But A Replacement Has Already Been Found

Following its usual winter hiatus, NBC’s Saturday Night Live is finally set to return for its first new episode of 2022. It should be a great show, as the comedy staple is set to welcome West Side Story breakout Ariana Debose as host. The midseason premiere was also set to include up-and-coming rapper Roddy Ricch as musical guest, but the performer is now bowing out due to COVID-related reasons. But fear not, viewers, because SNL has already landed a replacement. 

SNL has now tapped the Jack Antonoff-fronted Bleachers to take the reins as musical guest for 2022’s first episode. The show confirmed the development with a social media post, which sports the traditional cork board. Further details have not been provided, though you have to applaud the comedy series for working so quickly to secure additional talent. And given the band’s track record, it’s sure to put on a strong performance. 

Roddy Ricch’s exit was first confirmed by one of his reps, though further specifics regarding his exposure to COVID were not provided. The rapper later took to his Instagram stories to confirm the situation. Fans are sure to be disappointed that the star won’t be gracing the stage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza this weekend. However, in his social media message, he also shared some news that is sure to cheer his fanbase up:

Due to recent COVID exposure on my team and to keep everyone safe I won’t be able to perform on SNL this weekend. I’m working with the SNL team to lock in a new date though!

Roddy Rich in "25 Million" music video

(Image credit: WMG)

The Compton-born musician isn’t the first person to have to drop out of the show due to the ongoing pandemic. As a matter of fact, he’s the third to have to do so, though the reasons for each performer’s exit have varied. In 2020, Morgan Wallen was booted from the show at the last minute after breaking health and safety protocols and would later be replaced by Jack White. And in December 2021, Charlie XCX was forced to bow out after SNL opted to reduce its crew for the last filmed episode of the year.

The pandemic has definitely presented some interesting challenges for the long-running show. At the height of the pandemic, the show was actually forced to film episodes remotely to account for quarantine. The show ultimately returned to the studio for Season 46 in the fall of 2020, albeit with safety provisions for the cast, crew and guests. Since then, SNL has still managed to churn out some noteworthy moments. This season alone has seen Kim Kardashian host and drop some good zingers about her loved ones, while Tina Fey even returned to co-host a special edition of Weekend Update for the Christmas episode. Cast member Kate McKinnon also made a triumphant return after having been absent for most of the season's first half.

It’ll be interesting to see what host Ariana DeBose and Bleachers bring to the stage this coming weekend. Though I’m sure they, along with the cast and crew, have some special things planned for the first episode of the new year. 

Saturday Night Live returns on January 15, at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC! And be sure to keep up with CinemaBlend’s list of upcoming hosts and musical guests for Season 47.

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