Introducing “a new bunch of moptopped heartthrobs” from “across the pond, the big one with Hawaii in the middle,” Stephen Colbert dressed BTS up as the Beatles — and put himself in Ed Sullivan drag — for a pair of black-and-white segments that lovingly recreated the look of the Fab Four’s history-making appearance on that same stage in 1964.
The “young lads from Seoul” know how to rock a Beatlesuit, as it turns out. And if you thought no one could ever beat John, Paul, George and Ringo for tightly executed synchronized choreography, seven-part harmony and winsome rapping, you may want to think again.
The cold open on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” pointed out that the K-pop phenoms’ appearance came exactly 55 years, three months and six days after the signal moment of the Beatles’ televised British invasion in February ’64. Each of the seven members was introduced in panning closeup (“Hi, my name is V, and I’m a good boy”) and identified by his nickname… which, in all seven cases, was “the cute one.”
Following an interview (something the Beatles never got on the couch-free “Ed Sullivan Show”), it was back to the land of B&W pastiche as BTS performed “Boy With Luv” in front of an unplayed Ringo-style drum kit.
With Colbert slicking his hair back and adopting Sullivan’s officious manner, certain throwback gags were aimed at an audience old enough to remember the ’60s variety show, like the fact that BTS were purportedly preceded on the show by “Cassius Clay and his spinning plates, everyone.” Later, the host promised that “we’ll be right back with the plate-spinning magic of vice president Hubert Humphrey.”
Purported audience inserts also had screaming girls and sign-bearing boys in 1964 regalia … a slight exaggeration of the wry enthusiasm with which actual modern-day Beatlemaniacs greeted the affectionate homage, if probably an understatement of just how badly BTS fans want to hold the group’s collective hand.