On Wednesday night, as Stephen Colbert prepared to welcome the wildly popular South Korean boy band BTS, he noted that the K-pop phenoms are “the first group since the Beatles to earn three No. 1 albums in less than a year.”
When BTS performed a few minutes later, it took the Beatles comparison to heart, channeling the legendary band’s 1964 performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” an event that marked the Fab Four’s American debut.
Colbert offered his own tribute to a beloved predecessor: Ed Sullivan, who hosted his variety show across several decades from the very theater where Colbert helms his late-night show. The theater, of course, now bears Sullivan’s name.
“The Late Show” leaned into BTS’s homage, switching to black-and-white hues. Colbert surfaced post-commercial break with slicked-back hair and the pruned diction of a 1960s TV personality.
“And now for the performance you’ve been waiting for,” Colbert began. “These fabulous young lads from Seoul — really impressed all of us here — performing their song ‘Boy With Luv,’ from their EP ‘Map of the Soul: Persona,’ ladies and gentlemen, BTS.”
The show flashed to hysterical young men and women in the audience, sporting sleek ’60s hairstyles and vintage fashion. Onstage, the members of BTS — in tailored black suits — began to sing their airy hit in front of a drum emblazoned with the group’s name.
Earlier that day, band member and rapper RM told “Good Morning America” that all of the members were “fanboys of the Beatles.” And despite outnumbering the Fab Four (there are seven members of BTS), the K-pop group pulled off a performance that honored both the British band’s legacy and their own historic rise to global fame.
If the “Late Show” performance doesn’t convince you of the group’s charms, Colbert’s interview with the K-pop stars just might.