BTS Carpool Karaoke is latest example of band’s late night TV dominance

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 21: K-pop boy band BTS visit the SiriusXM Studios on February 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 21: K-pop boy band BTS visit the SiriusXM Studios on February 21, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM) /

BTS continues to make waves in late night television, this time with Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

We are only two months in, but 2020 is already looking like the year of BTS. The South Korean pop group has taken over music, social media, and now late night television.

It is impossible to overstate the popularity of BTS or the passion the band ignites among fans. Chances are you’ve seen a BTS hashtag in some form or another trending on Twitter for weeks now. And it’s not just dedicated fans singing the band’s praises. Critics love the album Map of the Soul: 7 and late night television has taken notice of the K-pop superstars.

We’ve seen BTS on Jimmy Kimmel Live!The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and The Graham Norton Show among others. The band has turned in some awesome performances and are responsible for some of the most popular and buzzed-about moments on late night TV.

But things reached a fever pitch this week. Just 24 hours after taking over The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, BTS was back on late night TV. This time it was for the long awaited and much anticipated appearance on “Carpool Karaoke.”

The Late Late Show with James Corden has been a late night home for BTS for a while now so doing “Carpool Karaoke” was only a matter of time. To the surprise of no one, the band and James Corden delivered what will surely be an all-time edition of the popular segment.

Late night TV has always been a marketing tool as well as a vehicle for comedy. The exact balance between comedy and advertising may have shifted over the years and can be debated. But what can’t be argued is how well BTS has used the medium to promote themselves and their music.

With the Tonight Show special episode and “Carpool Karaoke,” there is a clear effort to introduce BTS to a wider audience and showcase the personalities of the seven-member band. In today’s pop culture landscape, who a celebrity is off stage is just as important in determining his or her popularity as when performing on stage.

So while “Carpool Karaoke” is a performance, the segment is also designed to show a different side of the artist riding with James Corden. When the music plays, fans are treated to their favorite artist performing. When the music stops, Corden can help the artist connect with a new audience while also keeping existing fans happy like he does here with BTS.

Yet for as much as “Carpool Karaoke” can do for an artist, the success is still largely dependent on the star power of the artist. There is a reason why fans see Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Billie Eilish in the car with James Corden. These are the biggest names in music and BTS is now at that level.

Corden himself hinted at BTS doing “Carpool Karaoke” back in 2018. The band surely had the opportunity to make it happen since then. Instead, they waited, let it coincide with the release of Map of the Soul: 7, and made sure that their late night TV takeover was more than a “one night only” event.

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In its first eight hours of going online, the YouTube video of BTS on “Carpool Karaoke” earned over four million views. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon experienced new levels of engagement on social media. BTSxLateNightTV is a winning combination and one that is sure to continue for the foreseeable future. Fans both old and new have to happy about that.