Stephen Colbert had gone too far. To give up. Who he are. And who he were, on August 6, was a Viacom employee with a lucrative sponsorship deal from an auto manufacturer — and a booking to host Daft Punk as guests on his cable TV show.
That didn’t happen. Colbert announced the record-setting Random Access Memories duo will instead perform at another Viacom event, MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards on August 25 — in what he described as a “surprise” appearance — and therefore he claimed the suits had blocked them from gracing The Colbert Report. Because, to paraphrase Colbert, once you see a musical act live, you never want to see them again. Look at what happened to the Beatles’ after Ed Sullivan. Ringo Starr ended up working as a conductor.
Colbert got himself out of this Grateful Dead tribute album-size jam in two awesome ways. First, he aired a video of himself dancing to the French robots’ neo-disco smash “Get Lucky” (one of SPIN’s 40 Best Songs of 2013 So Far), joined by Jeff Bridges, Hugh Laurie, Jimmy Fallon, Bryan Cranston, Jon Stewart, Nick Cannon, Matt Damon, and, why not, Henry Kissinger. Second, because he said he’d promised his car-selling corporate sponsors “the song of the summer,” he called on someone out of the audience to perform: Robin Thicke.
The Blurred Lines crooner’s take on his own chart-dominating LP title track started out a little hoarse. And “Blurred Lines” lacks a certain something without Pharrell and T.I. (or the Roots). But Thicke was dorkily charming when he went out into the crowd. And that he performed at all was an astounding example of Colbert pulling synergistic victory from the brand-crushing jaws of defeat.
Watch the full episode here, check out “Blurred Lines” above, or watch Colbert’s cameo-stuffed “Get Lucky” dance video below. At the bottom of the page, see Colbert tear into the top MTV brass for stealing “Click and Clack over here” from his show.