Scarlett Johansson and Kelly Clarkson flex their guitar knowledge in superb new talk show game Catch a Riff of This

Scarlett Johansson and Kelly Clarkson
(Image credit: The Kelly Clarkson Show/YouTube)

Unless Cara Delevingne turns up playing guitar behind her head, the six-string highlight of most talk shows is usually the musical performance. Whether it's Nita Strauss shredding with Demi Lovato on Jimmy Kimmel or Chris Stapleton on Jimmy Fallon, such shows usually bring a fair share of guitar action.

The Kelly Clarkson Show, though, recently took a far more direct approach to piquing the interests of six-string fans, when the pop star-turned-show host challenged guest Scarlett Johansson to a game of "Catch a Riff of This".

If the name wasn’t clear, the game involved the pair listening to multiple famous guitar riffs – dutifully performed by live electric guitar player Jaco Caraco – and competing against each other to correctly guess either the artist or song name.

Though "Catch a Riff of This" is something of a misnomer – Caraco does throw a guitar solo in there – it’s one of the best ideas for a talk show game we’ve come across in  some time.

Now, if you thought Grammy winner and first-ever American Idol champion Clarkson had something of an advantage when it came to recognizing songs from guitar riffs… well, you’d be absolutely right.

The host showed no mercy to her Academy Award-nominated guest in promptly identifying Lenny Kravitz’s version of The Guess Who's American Woman and Pink’s So What with impressive ease, racing into an early lead.

Caraco’s next contribution from the fretboard of his Gibson Flying V, the guitar solo from Bohemian Rhapsody, almost caught the contestants off guard, though – surprise, surprise – Clarkson eventually gets that one as well.

Lit’s My Own Worst Enemy is swiftly snapped up by the host, who at this point commands a 7-3 lead, before Caraco brings proceedings to a close with a snappy rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama. And, yes, Clarkson guesses that first, too. A fairly resounding victory.

It was only the first "Catch a Riff of This" installment, but we see a lot of potential should The Kelly Clarkson Show decide to keep the format on as a main game.

Seeing today’s Hollywood elite battling it out while Caraco rips through Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave, Pantera’s Walk or Metallica’s Blackened would make for fantastic entertainment indeed.

Should they opt against that route, though, we already can guess what other greatest guitar riffs would make it on the running order: Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, AC/DC’s Back in Black and Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O Mine are sure to make an appearance in the future…

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.