Selena Gomez First Performed on ‘SNL’ After Re-Launching Her Music Career

Selena Gomez may seem too young to have had a comeback. But when you start your entertainment career as early as her, you have time to reinvent yourself. In fact, the star has been able to do what many child stars try and fail to achieve: transition from her young performing days to her adult ones without disappearing completely. And when Selena Gomez relaunched her music career with a new and more mature sound, one of her first official performances was as a musical guest on SNL

Selena Gomez took a break from music before launching a comeback

selena gomez snl
Selena Gomez attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/AMA2017/Getty Images for dcp)

Selena Gomez got her start on the popular children’s TV show Barney & Me. According to IMDb, she was a regular from 2002 to 2004. By 2007, she had landed her breakout role: Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. Only a teenager, Gomez found herself dealing with immense fame. Like many of the Disney stars of the era, Gomez’s multiple talents helped her launch a musical career bolstered by her young fans. 

That success came with strings, however. Gomez labored to mature into an image separate from her Disney-backed identity. On top of that, she faced serious health setbacks and has spoken publicly about her lupus. Eventually, Gomez underwent a kidney transplant. 

When she launched her album Revival in October 2015, the title was packed with meaning. As Billboard wrote, it “marks a split from the Disney empire that shaped so much of her story.” The first single (“Good for You”) contained a sexiness that definitely represented a change. It also demonstrated the singer’s attempt to separate herself from her media-hyped relationship with Justin Bieber.

Selena Gomez appeared on ‘SNL’ as musical guest in 2016

During the birth of this new image, Gomez appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest. She performed on the show on January 23, 2016. The episode, hosted by Ronda Rousey, marked a very public opportunity for Gomez to shed her Disney identity and establish her adult career on her own terms.

The performance included a combination of “Good for You” as well as “Same Old Love” and “Hands to Myself.” Lyrically, these songs offered a clear departure from her previous bubblegum pop. For instance, in “Hands to Myself,” Gomez croons about an unnamed lover’s “metaphorical gin and juice” she can’t stay away from. Likewise, “Same Old Love” showcased mature themes of heartache and despair — certainly something darker than Wizards of Waverly Place.

Selena Gomez returned to ‘SNL’ in 2022 with a new role

Following her musical relaunch, Gomez has continued her growth in the entertainment industry. Her 2022 return to the sketch comedy series marks a kind of full-circle growth. 

In the years since releasing Revival — which the singer considers her first actual solo album — she’s seen more success in the music industry, releasing Rare and Revelación. But she’s also seen tremendous growth in her acting and producing career. Most notably, she’s starring in Only Murders in the Building, a true-crime comedy that sees her up against comedic legends Martin Short and Steve Martin. In fact, her comments during a 2021 interview suggested Gomez’s plans to leave music entirely. However, she’s since walked back the comments to indicate she only intends a “significant break” rather than an end to her musical endeavors. 

It’s worth noting that her May 2022 appearance on SNL was not as a musical guest. Instead, Gomez served as host for the first time — an honor more typical for actors. Her skit imitating Miley Cyrus earned high praise — including from Cyrus herself

RELATED: Selena Gomez Reveals the ‘Best Decision’ She Ever Made for Her Mental Health