SING IF YOU'RE WINNING
How James Corden got Hollywood singing his tune on Carpool Karaoke
THEY have been the car of choice for the Royal family for decades, but it is James Corden’s endorsement of Range Rover as his karaoke vehicle of choice which has given the posh brand real street cred.
So cool is The Late Late Show king that his celebrity sing-alongs – cruising the streets of Los Angeles (and beyond) in the same wheels favoured by his young royal pals Princes Harry and William – that the popular segment has now earned its own prime-time special (airing on Ten this week).
Kitting out each luxury 4WD with “five microphones and maybe 10 cameras inside,” the jolly Brit has used his series of free-wheeling, all- star duets as a way to win a broad audience since first arriving on US screens three years ago.
It was a format the 39-year- old star of Gavin & Stacey first used to success for the 2011 charity fundraiser Comic Relief; in a hilarious skit featuring the late George Michael. More than seven years later,
The Late Late show staple continues to pull its talented host global headlines and the big names: from Mariah Carey (his first passenger) to Christina Aguilera (who stars in this latest special).
One of the first to use social media to lure a second screen audience, the carpool sessions have helped raise Corden’s profile beyond his graveyard TV timeslot (it routinely airs after midnight here on Eleven), while setting viral video records.
When he teamed with chart sensation and fellow Brit Adele back in 2016, her appearance still holds the record as the mostviewed clip in the history of latenight television, with 180-million views on YouTube and counting.
Spins with Aussie pop enigma Sia, One Direction and Justin Bieber have all also smashed the 100+ million viewer mark; with a tour around the grounds of the White House with former First Lady Michele Obama making political news.
Getting the superstars in his Range Rover’s hot seat (his car preference for their “great acoustics”) is down to a combination of Corden’s charm and impressive vocal talents, as well as his guests playing the part.
His ease with and access to the stars is no accident, reportedly laying the foundation for his celebrity collaborations when he first arrived in Hollywood.
Doing the rounds of the leading publicist agencies, he would personally reassure them his talk show would be a safe place, where their stars would be celebrated, rather than skewered.
In turn, the stars have turned up and let their guards down – and that, says Corden, is what has won over the audience.
“That’s the beauty of the segment: everything about it is stripped down,” he says. “There’s a nakedness to it, if you like, and it just gives everybody a chance to show who they are and what they’re about, and I think that’s
what people respond to. People respond to authenticity and they respond to honesty.”
Late Late’s executive producer Rob Crabbe says Corden’s fan boy approach has only boosted its impact.
“James approaches it as a fan first, so we love it for the same reasons we hope the audience does: getting to see candid conversations with huge artists singing their biggest hits,” he says.
Breaking into one of the world’s biggest TV markets as a relative unknown has also played in his favour, Crabbe argues.
“He got to be ‘discovered’ by a whole new audience, and that’s exciting as a viewer,” he says.
“We also try and make an inclusive, joyful, variety show every night, which hopefully gives people a reason to smile before they drift off to sleep.”
Corden has been candid about his insecurity about the US experiment – and unexpected success. So worried the show would fail, he convinced his wife
Julia they should only rent the furniture for their starter, leased LA home.
“In truth, history’s littered with people who’ve come and tried to make a show or something in America and it hasn’t worked,” he says.
“There’s such a level of ownership to these late night shows that the chances of a chubby guy from [the UK], who hadn’t ever really hosted a talk show before … well, the odds were stacked against us.”
Fast forward to his last headlining appearance – at Prince Harry’s wedding to former Suits star Meghan Markle last month.
Corden, who revealed he’d been mates with the groom for seven years, played MC at the couple’s lavish reception at Frogmore House, in Windsor – using his TV skill for wrangling stars to host a dance- off between Harry, his best man and big brother William and their father Prince Charles.
Of course, the experience became cheeky fodder for his
Late Late Show, sharing his pride at being part of such a “happy” and “uplifting” day.
“It was Britain at its finest, a picture-perfect day: Windsor Castle, 600 guests, 30,000 f lowers, or as Elton John calls it, a Thursday.”
TheLateLateShow host James Corden’s segment Carpool Karaoke has featured artists such as Christina Aguilera, right.