Pete Davidson, Chris Redd & More Tell The Stories Behind This 'SNL' Season's Best Musical Shorts, From 'Tiny Horse' to 'Stu'

Billboard spoke to SNL cast members Pete Davidson, Chris Redd and Chloe Fineman as well as writers and directors behind the season's funniest music videos.

6/8/2021 6:52:00 PM

Billboard spoke to SNL cast members Pete Davidson, Chris Redd and Chloe Fineman as well as writers and directors behind the season's funniest music videos.

Billboard spoke to SNL cast members Pete Davidson, Chris Redd and Chloe Fineman as well as writers and directors behind the season's funniest music videos.

The Vow, so we felt like getting Nick Jonas to do the [NXIVM leader] Keith Raniere look was perfect.Fineman: I told castmate Melissa Villaseñor about the idea -- she has such a beautiful voice and I am not a singer at all -- and I told Ego Nwodim, and they were pretty into it, and I was so lucky Kate McKinnon came on to do it. They definitely related to it. There was one part of the shoot where I wanted us in these body bags, but, like, make it cool. But having to watch Kate zipped up into a body bag was bad. There was a ridiculous conversation about,"Can we bedazzle the body bags?" And I was like,"I am not bejeweling a body bag!"

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I think because of the pandemic, they smelled really bad and they had us all lying down and looking dead and they just smelled so bad and I turned to Kate and told her I was so sorry. Also, [Netflix true crime series] Hotel Cecilcame out that week, and I used to live right next to the real hotel and my room looked out on that water tower. I thought,"I was born to do this, baby!" My goal this summer is to take singing lessons so I can carry it a bit better. I'm from Berkeley and I grew up worshipping The Lonely Island, and my goal in life was to do anything close to what they do.

"Stu": Davidson clearly found his lane embodying Slim Shady this season, and this Christmas-themed reimagining of Eminem's iconic obsessed-fan hit"Stan" paid homage in the nerdiest way possible.Davidson: The first album I ever bought was

The Eminem Showin 2002, and I had to get the clean version because my mom wouldn't let me get the real one. I grew up with8 Mile,and being able to act like a jackass and dress up like him and reproduce one of his videos and them letting me do it?The great thing about

SNLis they build the whole thing in a warehouse -- because you can't shoot on location anymore for the time being -- and I showed up and they were like,"We'll make it look exactly like the [original] video." That original video is nostalgic for everyone, and when you're parodying something like that, you have to make sure it's f--king great because the wolves will come for you if you don't.

Levy: We took stills from the original video and pieced them together to make the layout of the set, and figure out where everything is in relation to everything else.Robles: The trickiest part was making Santa's workshop and then figuring out how to merge these two worlds in a way that made sense in the beginning, since that shot of Eminem going down the steps to the basement is so iconic. We knew if we could nail that, people would get it right away, and we got a laugh from the first shot of him coming down [in dress rehearsal], and we knew we had it because people knew where it was going.

Castillo:"Stu" was the first thing we approached Pete with, and we didn't know what to expect because we'd never worked with him before. It ended up being great, because once we pitched the idea, he was onboard. He watched the original"Stan" video to make sure his mannerisms were the same as the character and he would study it to make sure he got it right. He was like a man on a mission, so motivated and dedicated.

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Bulla: Bowen [Yang] could not have been funnier as Elton John. He commits so hard -- as does everyone, but when we thought of Elton at the Grammys and mimicking that performance and leaning into how dramatic it was, Bowen just went for it. He was incredible on set. We had five people pushing a full piano into the scene with Bowen as Elton sliding in from the darkness into the light in his full Grammy costume.

Castillo: The Eminem cameo was all theSNL producers. They said they were trying to get ahold of him and we thought they were joking."There's no way he would say yes." And we were just always worried, like,"Is it going to happen or not happen?"

Davidson: The line about"Santa's b--- t---" -- that was as joke I fought for, and I'm fine with that being in this article."Tiny Horse": One of the weirdest, and funniest, musical numbers of the season featured guest host Chalamet singing an oddly moving homage to his mini-mare.

Bulla: I didn't study music, but I was always in bands growing up, and in high school I was in drumline and took drums really seriously. Songwriting atSNLis different for everyone -- some cast members and writers come up with an idea, but not the music -- so we call up our music director Eli [Bruggemann] and he'll come up with something incredible. For"Tiny Horse," I recorded a demo and once Castillo was into it, we gave it to Eli and he fleshed it out and we recorded the full version.

Castillo: I had that idea last summer. It was loosely inspired by"There Goes My Miracle," from Bruce Springsteen's last album [Western Stars]. I always think in terms of parody, and I remember showing it to Bulla and saying,"Obviously we have to make an original song," and he came back in a couple hours with the most beautiful song I ever heard in my life. Typically I'll walk around my house singing a parody song, and I was singing"There Goes My Tiny Horse" and Bulla has a knack for writing the catchiest thing ever.

Bulla: Early in the week we'll get a sense of if the host can dance, sing, do accents, impersonations or rap -- and I think we heard that Timtohée can sing.Robles: The first thing we were told when we were assigned that video was that we can't spend a ton of money on this. So we stripped down our original idea of making this big barn set, and simplified it to make it just about Timothée as much as we could, in the hopes that people wouldn't notice that the set is so tiny.

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Castillo: It was one of the few times we got called in into [SNLboss Lorne Michael]'s office and he gave us a note -- sometimes our comedy brain could make it go dark at the end. And he said,"People will love the Tiny Horse, so make it sweet at the end." That was a great note, because it could have broken people's hearts. Lorne said he's seen it done too many times, so he said,"Let's do something nice for once."

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