Jennifer Lopez joins James Corden for some vehicular music-making on...

Jennifer Lopez joins James Corden for some vehicular music-making on "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special." Credit: CBS / Cliff Lipson

THE SPECIAL “The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special”

WHEN | WHERE Tuesday night at 10 on CBS/2

WHAT IT’S ABOUT One year on the air as host of “The Late Late Show,” James Corden has made “Carpool Karaoke” his signature feature. “CK” involves him driving around with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Elton John and One Direction, while belting out hits of various musicians. These segments have become major YouTube scores, and Tuesday another one will surely be born, when Jennifer Lopez does “Karaoke.” This special — not available for review — will feature other highlights from Corden’s first year.

MY SAY Behold a work of genius. Behold and also wonder: Why didn’t we think of this? Because we are not geniuses, that’s why. James Corden is a genius. Or maybe his “Late Late Show” producer is the genius. Or maybe Jimmy Fallon is. (More on him in a bit.)

But the point is, someone here has to be a genius. How else to explain Carpool Karaoke? Not even two dozen webisodes old, “Karaoke” hasn’t eaten the Internet, but had large parts for brunch. The Adele one alone, uploaded in mid-January, has 88.8 million views, a YouTube late-night record. The others are rolling along, too. This, as you know, is what’s called a “viral” phenomenon. Viral is what late-night TV wants these days, and a sweet, funny, talented 37-year-old Brit is the king of the viral.

But why “genius?” Because “Karaoke” blends the cultural touchstones that Americans treasure more than their own children — celebrities and YouTube. If only Corden could figure out how to get football involved, this could be even bigger.

When Corden started at “Late Late Show,” amid a chorus of “who is this guy?” he knew he had to accomplish one thing. Most viewers don’t actually watch late night live any longer, but rather the next day, or in chunks. Fallon’s “History of Rap” was the seed of a great idea, and his “Lip Sync Battle” is the full flowering of it. But “Carpool” goes one better, by taking the celebrity out of their comfort zone, and studio, into an even more comfortable one — in leather seats, no less.

Together, host and giant star sing along — to songs like the Spice Girl’s “Wanna Be” or Nicki Minaj’s “Monster.” They joke. They laugh. They sing some more. And miraculously, almost imperceptibly, the giant, formerly unapproachable star becomes relatable, charming and human. An even better version of their original glorious self emerges.

As driver and companion, Corden is funny, self-deprecating and in-key. Best of all, he doesn’t run over pedestrians. This is what you call a win-win.

BOTTOM LINE Corden has the surprise late-night hit of the year. Who’d’ve thunk?

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