“We believed there was an intimacy about it. It’s joyful,” declares James Corden as we chat via webcam (watch above) about Carpool Karaoke, the breakout sensation of this past season on his CBS program “Late Late Show with James Corden.” He adds, “A lot of it is an interview, and a lot of it is the singing. You’re seeing a side of artists and people that would be impossible to get here in our studio with 200 people in the audience with cameras and publicists and all of those things. There’s something very humanizing about it.”
Each edition of the recurring segment sees Corden driving a different musical artist around the streets of Los Angeles. He chats with them and they sing along together to the musician’s top hits. The complete collection of segments just surpassed one billion views on YouTube. The most popular have been the ones with Adele (100 million) and Justin Bieber (75 million). Other artists have included Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Martin, One Direction, Gwen Stefani, and Stevie Wonder.
The British comedian and actor took over the late-night program from Craig Ferguson only 14 months ago. Now in its second season, Corden says, “All you’re looking for when you start a show like this is what defines our show. What are the tentpoles where people go, “Oh that’s the show where they do this, this and this… You need things that will define your show outside of a desk and a chair and guests.” The show will be on the Emmy Awards ballot this summer competing as Best Variety Talk Series. A compilation special of many Carpool Karaoke segments that aired in March will be a contender for Best Variety Special.
Corden won a Tony Award in 2012 for his performance in the play “One Man, Two Guvnors.” He returns to Broadway on June 12 for the as a first-time host of the Tony Awards, also airing on his home network of CBS. He readily admits, “I’m very excited by it. It just didn’t feel right to do it last year. I felt like our show had only just launched. We were still figuring it out and had hit the ground running. This year I feel immensely proud to be hosting it. The two times that I’ve worked on Broadway have been among the greatest times of my professional life. It’s not lost on me what an honor it is to be at the center of a night like that.”