In the year 1964, when The Beatles performed “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” and “I Saw Her Standing There”, The Ed Sullivan Show drew a record viewership of 73 million. The appearance of the “Fab Four” on an American Television Show has been marked as a turning point in American Pop Culture and the beginning of British Invasion in the mainstream music industry.
On 16th May, South Korean boy group BTS made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The septet along with the host reenacted The Beatles’ historic appearance as the members graced the stage cladded in suits while Colbert adorned the tense persona of the famous host, Ed Sullivan.
— ????? (@BTS_twt) May 17, 2019
Calling them as the “moptopped heartthrobs”, Colbert introduced the “cute one” to the audience. The stage setup and the episode’s concept of reenactment to pay homage to The Beatles worked in BTS’ favour as the show’s statement of their significance on American soil became a testament of the impact the septet has been making in the mainstream American music industry.
Known for his humorous delivery, Colbert took the stereotypes prevalent around the group and turned them on their head. By failing to initially give a precise name to the location where the group is based, Colbert addressed those people who play on the narrative of “us vs them” while criticizing the artists from places like Asia.
His question about the look he needs to take to enrol himself as the new member of BTS might seem funny but a close consideration will make anyone realize how the group’s appearance is usually perceived in the west. Failing to pay attention to the polemical work they bring to the table, a lot of people use “hair colour” or “homogenous” identity as their method of criticism, both of which reiterate the stereotypes and mockery around KPOP idols’ looks.
Colbert did not just debunk the stereotypes surrounding BTS but by drawing a clear parallel between the group and The Beatles, the host provided a counter-argument and a direction towards which the audience needs to pay attention – their cultural impact.
Manifesting the nostalgia of “Beatlemania”, the audience came dressed up in the fashion of the 60s and BTS’ performance was telecasted in black and white. Showcasing their vocal stability and synchronized moves to Boy With Luv, the hit single from their mini-album ” Map of the Soul: Persona”, BTS repeated the SNL moment, leaving the audience mesmerised. The performance was premiered live on YouTube for international fans to enjoy. The performance was well received by both fans and non-fans.
Drawing a significant difference from the couch free “The Ed Sullivan Show”, Stephen Colbert sat down with BTS for a fun conversation, cracking jokes on ARMY’s being everything to him too (on V’s endearment towards fans’ admiration) and engaging in a fun conversation with Jin and Suga about his possible enrolment in the group and the former’s plan for the future. When asked about their favourite Beatles’ song, J-Hope took the lead for an impromptu harmonization to “Hey Jude”, happily surprising Colbert and the audience.
With variegated demographics, comprising of people of different age and from different places, a lot of fans took on Twitter to share their reminiscences of the time when Beatles were still active.
What do you think about the performance? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.