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James Corden: George Michael ‘Inspired’ Carpool Karaoke

Always an innovator. James Corden paid tribute to the late George Michael on his first episode of The Late Late Show since the music icon’s death on Christmas day — and the late-night host revealed that Michael actually “inspired” his hit Carpool Karaoke segment. 

James Corden
Host James Corden on ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

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The British comedian, 38, said he was hit “really hard” by the news that the “Father Figure” singer had died of heart failure at age 53. “I feel like I’ve loved George Michael as long as I’ve loved music, in a way, and I know so many of his fans feel the same,” Corden said. “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, 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.”

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Corden recalled that he met Michael in 2011 when they collaborated on a skit for the charity organization Comic Relief and its signature event, Red Nose Day. The pair chatted on the phone for an hour discussing Michael’s music and how the sketch would work.

James Corden and George Michael
James Corden and George Michael during Carpool Karaoke in 2011.

“We had come up with this idea to have me and George Michael singing in a car,” Corden continued. “It was the first time I’d ever sung in a car with anybody, and it’s become quite a big part of my life now, and he really inspired it.” 

The TV host explained that he initially struggled to find artists who were willing to participate in Carpool Karaoke when he first joined The Late Late Show. He used to send musicians the clip of his skit with Michael as an example, and finally Michael’s friend Mariah Carey agreed to participate.

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“We sent it to Mariah Carey, and she was the first person to say yes,” Corden said. “Her words were, ‘If it’s good enough for George, then it’s good enough for me. I’ll do it.’ So we all have so much to thank him for, for the music that he’s given that will last forever, but we personally, here at this show, we owe him so much.”

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