In early December, the legendary Earth, Wind, and Fire made history as the first Black group to be inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors.
The institution held its 42nd annual awards ceremony Sunday night (Dec. 15) in Washington, D.C., where they paid tribute to the band with performances. Some of music’s biggest stars took the stage to honor the funk icons with covers of the band’s most-cherished anthems including John Legend (“Can’t Hide Love”), Ne-Yo (“Shining Star”) and Cynthia Ervio (“Reasons”) among others. But of all the stages from the night, it was the Jonas Brothers’ rendition of EWF’s timeless disco classic “Boogie Wonderland” that’s going viral across Twitter.
Clips of the pop-rock trio’s performance of the song made its rounds online and eventually wound up in Black Twitter’s corner, who were left wondering were all the funk went. Longtime fans and casual listeners alike were quick to note that ensemble’s stage paled in comparison to the electrifying soulfulness that the funk icons have long been renowned for.
“Was every black person who could sing ever busy?” one person commented on Twitter. “I love JB but absolutely not.”
Fans’ ire was further fueled by speculation that the Jonas Brothers appeared to not know the lyrics to “Boogie Wonderland” and had only just learned them during their rehearsal for the tribute.
“I know someone who went to the #KennedyCenterHonors dress rehearsal. The Jonas Brothers didn't know the words to 'Boogie Wonderland',” one person wrote.
“How dare they disrespect these legends...the Jones Brothers didn't even know the d**n words,” another wrote.
Some fans also called attention to the recent trend of Black musicians and artists being seemingly overlooked for tributes to Black musical greats.
“First J. Lo did a Motown tribute & now Jonas Brothers paying tribute to #EarthWindandFire? Are Black musicians only allowed to pay tribute to legends at the BET Awards?” one person tweeted.
See the Jonas Brothers’ performance of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” and the internet’s reactions to it below: