TV & Movies

Austin Butler Sang “Blue Christmas” By Elvis Presley On SNL

The Golden Globe nominee brought back his movie vocals for a meaningful reason.

Six months after 'Elvis,' Austin Butler performed a song that wasn't in the film during his Dec. 17 ...
Rosalind O'Connor/NBC

Even though Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis movie was nearly three hours long, there’s no way it could contain every iconic song from The King’s catalog. Fortunately, Austin Butler’s Saturday Night Live debut featured a performance that didn’t make the movie lineup — and it’s a festive one.

Throughout Butler’s Dec. 17 hosting gig, he made several nods to his turn as Elvis — from addressing his voice change in the monologue to appearing as a horny audience member in an Elvis tribute sketch. However, it wasn’t until the final sketch of the evening that Butler brought out his smooth, low Elvis vocals for an actual performance of the singer’s 1957 holiday track, “Blue Christmas.”

The song was featured in a goodbye sketch to longtime SNL player Cecily Strong, whose exit was announced ahead of the Dec. 17 show. In the sketch, Strong played a RadioShack employee (also named Cecily!) whose boss hired an Elvis impersonator, Butler, to send her off in musical style.

“Cecily, I know we only met this week, but I feel like I’ve known you for two weeks,” Butler said, before breaking into song. However, some of the tune’s familiar lyrics were tweaked for the occasion — like, for example, “You’ll be doing all right / Every Saturday night / But I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas.”

Soon, several of Strong’s fellow SNL cast members joined the performance to bid her farewell — including Kenan Thompson and Colin Jost, who have worked with Strong for her entire tenure on the show. While the comedian didn’t announce her specific post-SNL plans, they include the upcoming Garfield film and Schmigadoon! Season 2.

Interestingly, though “Blue Christmas” didn’t appear in the Elvis film, it was actually part of the singer’s 1968 comeback special in real life. And the song has significance to Butler’s career trajectory, too! In an April interview with Vogue, the actor recalled listening to “Blue Christmas” while driving through Los Angeles’ Griffith Park with a friend. “I was singing along with it when my friend had kind of an epiphany: ‘You need to play Elvis,’” Butler said.

According to the magazine, that friend was actually Butler’s now-ex Vanessa Hudgens — in fact, she told the same story during a 2019 appearance on Live with Kelly and Ryan. So, it’s safe to say Butler’s “Blue Christmas” performance was a full-circle moment for the actor, who recently received his first Golden Globe nomination for his work on the musical biopic.