After a week before the broadcast, SNL eliminates
country star Morgan Wallen as a musical guest.
Country music singer Morgan Wallen was removed by "Saturday Night Live" as this week's music guest, the singer revealed on Wednesday night's Instagram account. Wallen attracted criticism after sharing TikTok videos where he was partying at the University of Alabama days earlier without a mask.
"I'm in a hotel room in New York City, I got ready for SNL this Saturday and I got a call from the show letting me know I can't play anymore," Wallen said in a short video. "And that's the covid protocols I understand."
"I'm not sure," he said. "My acts last weekend were pretty short-sighted, clearly impacting my long-term ambitions and my aspirations. I appreciate the show 's decision because I know I 'm putting them at risk. I take care of that. I'd like to apologize to SNL, my fans, my team for giving me this chance. And I'll let them down.
Over the past few days, several TikTok videos appeared that showed Wallen, one of Nashville's fastest-rising young stars, partying maskless in crowds of people in Tuscaloosa, where he attended Saturday's Alabama-Texas A&M soccer game. Various footage showed the singer drinking in a crowded bar, kissing several women, taking pictures with fans, riding in someone's back seat, and playing guitar in a tightly packed indoor party. People with masks tended to wear them around their chins, while Wallen wore a neck gaiter pulled down in most videos.
The activity, already risky in a pandemic, was particularly noteworthy for someone about to appear on SNL, who returned last week for Season 46 and is filming live in studio under strict pandemic protocols.
Last week's limited live audience, partly made up of first responders, wearing masks. Host Chris Rock signed off surrounded by the cast, wearing face coverings, and implored everyone watching to wear a mask. SNL creator Lorne Michaels gave interviews leading up to the new season detailing the new safety protocols of the show, including everyone taking rapid coronavirus tests before entering the set. Number of crew members are limited. Every person must always wear a mask, even actors, right before they go on camera. And if anybody tests positive, Michaels told the New York Times, they'll have to quarantine for two weeks.
Wallen 's fall from the show seemed only a matter of time, as many alarmed fans questioned his social media behavior and flagged SNL 's concern. On Instagram, the singer said he knows he 's taking "a lot of heat," but said he's hoping to spend some time in private trying to "focus on me."
"I think I have some growing up on a more personal level. I think I've lost myself a little. I tried to find joy in the wrong ways, and I don't know, it left me with less joy, so I'll try to focus on that, "Wallen said in his video. "I'm going to step back from the spotlight for a bit and focus on myself. I wish I could make country music this Saturday, and my friends proud. But again I honor the decision.
He said Michaels sent him "a lot of support," hoping the show would find time to reschedule.
Despite their material, it's no surprise that Wallen 's videos, 27, blew up on TikTok — he's especially loved by younger listeners of the genre. Last year he had one of the biggest success stories of TikTok country songs since Lil Nas X's "Old Town Lane" went from meme to top of the Billboard chart. At the beginning of national shutdowns, country singers challenged each other on Instagram to post samples of songs that were never recorded; Wallen posted a verse and chorus of "7 Summers," a bleak track reflecting on a past relationship.
TikTok users soon co-opted the song's snippet and started using it in own videos. It reached such hysteria that in August, Wallen wounded releasing it as a single. "It came out for y' all. Do what you're doing, "Instagram wrote. His fans followed suit promptly: the album smashed country streaming records and rocked into the top 10 all-genre Billboard 100. Simultaneously to his previous song, "More Than My Hometown," it is currently climbing country radio charts.
Wallen 's rise is exceptionally fast for Nashville norms as fans have embraced his no-holds-barred image as a regular, bemulleted East Tennessee guy who loves party. (When he was arrested in May, accused of public intoxication outside Kid Rock's Nashville bar, he issued a public apology and was soon forgotten.)
Wallen first broke out in the "The Voice" season 6 in early 2014. He moved to Nashville shortly afterwards and landed a recording deal with independent label Big Loud Records and was signed with the same management company as Florida Georgia Line. His first song, "The Way I Speak," celebrated his Southern accent; his first big hit, "Up Down," was a collaboration with FGL in which he called their whisky brand.
Last year, his career exploded with "Whiskey Glasses" breakup anthem, a bona fide smash that extols the virtues of getting wasted after someone breaks your heart. It was 2019's most-played single on country radio.