James Corden Shares Emotional Tribute to George Michael and How He Inspired Carpool Karaoke

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If it wasn’t for George Michael, James Corden‘s popular Carpool Karaoke sketch may have never existed.

The Late, Late Show host returned to television after the holiday break with a moving and personal tribute to the singer, who unexpectedly died at age 53 over the Christmas period.

“I feel like I’ve loved George Michael as long as I’ve loved music, and I know so many fans felt the same way,” Corden, 38, said. “I can remember so many times in my life where I might have felt on my own, and George’s music would feel like he would reach his hand out and [say] you weren’t on your own.”

Corden went on to discuss his desire to do a sketch with Michael for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day, a fundraising event that draws massive celebrities. The legendary singer eventually agreed to discuss the idea on a 3 a.m. phone call from Australia.

“It was the weirdest feeling going to bed thinking when I wake up it’s going to be because George Michael is on the phone,” the host said.

Corden recalled not only chatting about the sketch but speaking for an hour about music and the impact Michael’s music had on the actor.

Finally, they turned their attention to the Red Nose Day skit.

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

The sketch laid the groundwork for what would eventually become Carpool Karaoke. However, Corden said celebrities were hesitant to participate when the idea was first pitched to them.

To show what it would be like, Corden’s team sent out the clip of him and Michael singing in the car. Mariah Carey was the first star to sign on — due to Michael’s involvement.

According to Corden, she said, “If it’s good enough for George, it’s good enough for me.”

Corden concluded, “We owe him so much at this show. George, we’ll miss you so much, we really will.”

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