The Best Musician Appearances on ‘The Colbert Report’


Iggy and the Stooges were in cracking form on The Colbert Report last night, making them the latest in a long line of bands who’ve appeared as guests on Stephen Colbert’s long-running satirical chat show. Of all the late-night hosts on TV, Colbert seems to get the most amusing interviews and performances out of musicians; here are a selection of The Colbert Report‘s very best musical moments. You’re more than welcome.


A highlight that’s no doubt fresh in everyone minds, Morrissey’s appearance late last year found both Colbert and the former Smiths frontman in top form. The host presumably knew exactly what he was doing by asking Morrissey about both the Royal Family and vegetarianism, and Morrissey responded exactly as one might expect, teeing off on the Queen, Pippa Middleton, the UK press, meat eaters, people who eat their grandmothers, and everyone else in range. (He also slated the rest of The Smiths for good measure.)


A classic from 2008, wherein Colbert uses a copy of Accelerate as a codpiece, pretends not to know that Michael Stipe is gay, and discusses how many ’80s hair metal bands R.E.M. played with back in the day (spoiler: one).

James Murphy

Prior to his final shows at Madison Square Garden in 2011, James Murphy went on Colbert for his last TV appearance as part of LCD Soundsystem. He’s a surprisingly (and endearingly) shy and earnest interviewee, confessing that his interests extend to “making coffee” and explaining that he’s walking away from fame before it becomes “embarrassing.” Bless.


This is really pretty amazing, both for the fact that Tinariwen made it all the way from the refugee camps of West Africa onto American national television, and for the generally unlikely spectacle of Colbert interviewing three robed Tuaregs about the “music scene in the Malian desert.” The fairly serious interview proves that Colbert is wise enough to get out of the way when the subject matter warrants it (even if he can’t resist the occasional joke, and the whole translation aspect provides plenty of inherent hilarity).


Really, it’s all about the wig. Good lord. Also, “Why art?” is perhaps the most intimidating question that Colbert’s ever led with. Why, indeed? (It’s also endearing how amazed the host is by the Biophilia application on his iPad.)

Alicia Keys

In which Colbert raps on “Empire State of Mind.” Enough said.

Paul McCartney

This is great for the simple reason that McCartney’s “The Nice One” veneer doesn’t so much slip as fall to the ground and shatter into many small pieces. Colbert responds to the decidedly surly McCartney’s assertion that he’s never seen The Colbert Report by claiming that he’s never heard McCartney’s music, a frankly unfeasible claim that the former Beatle nevertheless swallows, and the result is a spectacularly awkward interview. (There’s also the possibility that McCartney is putting the whole thing on, in which case we take back all of the above and doff our hats to him.)

John Darnielle

No such problems for John Darnielle’s appearance — Colbert is apparently a paid-up Mountain Goats fan, and the two riff off one another beautifully, with Darnielle explaining the origin of his band name (they’re the coolest animals in the world, and their overestimation of their mountain-climbing ability often leads them to suicide) and discussing whether Jesus was a fan of the free market.

Brian Eno

“I found myself thinking about my laundry.” Oh, Brian Eno, don’t ever change. (This is actually a really interesting interview — it finds Eno talking about the Windows 95 jingle and the genesis of Music for Airports, amongs other things.)

Apples in Stereo

Sadly, it’s impossible to find a video of Robert Schneider performing “Stephen, Stephen,” his ode to Mr. Colbert, on the show back in 2006 — but the song itself is still floating about on YouTube, and this feature would feel incomplete without it.