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Stephen Colbert's Musical Guests Are Far Hipper Than Jimmy Fallon's

by William Hoffman   Dec 12, 2015 14:38 PM EST

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Lizzo's performance of "Ain't I," her bombastic song of female empowerment, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Thursday was as raw and authentic as late night TV gets in a time where it feels like everything else in that time block, namely The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, feels watered down.

Lizzo danced and strutted on the stage displaying her ability to spit a sick verse and show off her equally impressive vocal range, all wrapped up in a politically charged song that brought attention to women's issues, black culture and body image.

There have been some fantastic performances on The Tonight Show since Fallon took the reins, for sure. It also doesn't hurt to have Questlove helping you out in the booking department. Yet, someone at The Late Show is beating them at every turn and resurrecting the show as a forum where artists like Lizzo can have a powerful platform for five to 10 minutes in a highly entertaining way.

Compare the two programs' last month of musical guests. Fallon had Tim McGraw, Justin Bieber, R. Kelly, Adele, The Flaming Lips and Chris Brown, who was canceled from The Daily Show due to his history of abuse. That's obviously a star-studded lineup and there's no denying it got a lot of views, especially the night of Adele, which was surely on everyone's timeline.

But Colbert's show is fighting fire with fire with guests such as George Ezra, The Internet, My Morning Jacket, Joanna Newsom and Kurt Vile among the performers in the past month, with Sleater-Kinney and Leon Bridges still to come. All of those acts you'll find prominently placed among critics' best albums of the year, even if they aren't all the most mainstream guests.

Colbert started his show with the expectation that he'd bring some authenticity back to late night, and the music is delivering on that.

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