Brow Beat

Katy Perry’s SNL Performance Was Upstaged by Backpack Kid, Our Newest Viral Phenomenon

Katy Perry’s “Swish, Swish” is a fine song, but on Saturday Night Live over the weekend, it was brought to incredible life by a most unlikely source: Russell Horning, a 15-year-old boy from Lawrenceville, Georgia. Better known across the internet as “Backpack Kid,” Horning followed in the footsteps of Perry, drag queens, and other professional dancers before completely stealing the live performance.

In a buzz cut, gray t-shirt, and small backpack, Horning demonstrated some elegantly lanky moves. From there, he only got more compelling, swishing his arms and eventually his body with bracing speed and rhythm. Easily the most memorable aspect of the performance, Horning is now racking up Instagram followers and likely drawing the attention of other megastars. His talents previously went viral when Rihanna reposted one of his clips to express joy over the Grammy nominations, and just before he went on SNL, he and Perry co-shared a video in which the latter tried—and failed—to keep up.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Horning revealed crucial details about his art: He limits the contents of his backpack to a full water bottle, a charger, fidget spinners, and earbuds; his signature dance move is called “the Russell”; and his favorite emoji is “laughing with tears face.” He also talks about “ending racism” on his Instagram.

With at least three cast members confirmed not to return next year, SNL is already on the hunt for new talent. Perhaps Lorne Michaels should take a cue from his fans and give them what they’re (rightly) clamoring for: more Backpack Kid.