James Corden delivered a heartfelt tribute to George Michael on Tuesday night’s “Late Late Show,” crediting the recently deceased singer with helping create Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” segments.
“There was some really sad news over Christmas that hit me really hard . . . The passing away of George Michael,” British comedian Corden, 38, told his audience. “I feel like I’ve loved George Michael as long as I’ve kind of loved music, in a way, and I know so many of his fans feel the same. Like sometimes, I can remember so many specific times in my life where I might have felt on my own, and George’s music would feel like he just . . .,” Corden paused, searching for the words. “It would feel like you would listen to a song and he would reach his hand out and tell you that you weren’t on your own and that these feelings were not particular to you.”
He then described meeting and working with Michael, who died of heart failure Christmas Day, at age 53. In 2011, “He very kindly agreed to do a sketch for Comic Relief, which is a huge charity in the U.K., on a big day called Red Nose Day.” Corden at the time was coming off a supporting role in the 2008-2010 British comedy “Gavin & Stacey,” which he co-created. “And in this sketch, the idea was that a character from a sitcom I was in at home was driving to the offices of Comic Relief to try and save Red Nose Day. We had come up with this idea to have me and George Michael singing in a car.”
In the sketch, which Corden aired, Michael rides with Corden’s character, Smithy, and after a disagreement the two find themselves making up by singing along to “I’m Your Man” by Michael’s former duo, Wham!
“And it was the first time I’d ever sung in a car with anybody,” Corden said. “And it’s become quite a big part of my life now, and he really inspired it.”
Michael, he said, also inspired other singers to take part when the segment launched on CBS’ “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” “We were trying to get people to do ‘Carpool Karaoke,’ and not many artists wanted to do it. And we would send them this clip of me and George, and we sent it to Mariah Carey, and she was the first person to say yes. And her words were, ‘If it’s good enough for George, then it’s good enough for me. I’ll do it.’ ”