In a land where every late-night talk show is only as relevant as its most viral clip, Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver reign. But with his insanely popular "Carpool Karaoke" segments, The Late Late Show host James Corden is a cheery prince.
As the segment grows in popularity, now's a good time to take stock of Corden's odes to the radio sing-along. How exactly do you rank videos of a talk show host and various celebrity passengers crooning in a car tricked out with cameras? Through a highly scientific analysis of each clip's vocal performance, "laugh factor," and whether or not you'd want to spend your lunch break watching it. Buckle your seat belt!
28. Christmas Carpool
No shots at Christmas or joy, but this is more of a glorified clip package than a full "Carpool Karaoke" segment. We see Carrie Underwood, Jason Derulo, Justin Bieber, and a few others sing bits of "Joy to the World," and that's about it. It does make you wonder if bandleader Reggie Watts will ever get his own "Carpool" segment.
27. Chris Martin
We would never be so rude as to say Coldplay sucks. But the band's ever-chipper frontman makes this road trip a bit of a slog, even when he brings out his own keyboard and does a sweet cover of David Bowie's "Heroes." At the very least, you get to see Chris Martin do his impressions of Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger.
26. One Direction
I know it's dangerous to say anything against "One Direction" on the internet, but I'm not scared: this "Carpool Karaoke" is overrated. Too many people in the car. Too much emphasis on the singing. Too much fan service. I like my talk-show viral videos with a little more integrity -- sorry, 1D fans.
25. Mariah Carey
Sure, this isn't a great one, but let's cut Mimi some slack. She did the first "Carpool Karaoke," and she couldn't have known this was going to become a franchise people would rank and obsess over. Like, Vin Diesel would probably do some things differently with the first Fast and Furious if he knew it was going to spawn all those sequels, right?
24. Iggy Azalea
The big revelation here is that Iggy Azalea seems so… down-to-earth? That's cool for her. But this is "Carpool Karaoke." Bring your A game, or don't bother showing up on the court.
23. Carrie Underwood
This one features a lengthy boot-shopping detour that's pretty light on laughs -- and singing! -- but the end, which has Corden facing off against Underwood in a "who can hold this note longer?" contest, is pretty funny. Also, Underwood's Wham! fandom makes this one worth watching.
22. "All I Want for Christmas" Carpool
This is the better of the two Christmas-edition "Carpool" videos: shorter, sweeter, and gives everyone another chance to listen to Mariah Carey's holiday banger.
21. Rod Stewart and A$AP Rocky
You can tell Rod Stewart isn't really into this whole concept toward the beginning, so it's a relief when A$AP Rocky hops into the back of the car to give this segment a boost of youthful energy. Luckily, the "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" singer finds his footing -- and even lets Corden touch his luscious hair once he gets a little more comfortable.
20. Justin Bieber (post-Grammys)
This is a short one, but that's what makes it work. Plus, the double-white-tuxedo combo is always a good (ridiculous) look.
19. Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas
This one is pretty charming. Corden is committed to making Nick Jonas uncomfortable by mentioning the purity ring era and Demi Lovato gets to show off her impressive singing chops. But why do they always feel the need to leave the car? The short outdoor concert segment drags the pace a bit. Doing "Carpool Karaoke" is like riding a roller coaster: Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.
18. Selena Gomez
And then sometimes "Carpool Karaoke" actually includes a roller coaster! While the roller coaster part feels a little gimmick-ey and a detour to McDonald's isn't super eventful, Gomez, like her former flame Justin Bieber, has really solid "Carpool" dance moves. She kills her own songs and proves to be an ideal dry comic foil to Corden. Let's get these two in Spring Breakers 2.
17. Gwen Stefani with George Clooney and Julia Roberts
We've entered the over-stuffed blockbuster era of "Carpool Karaoke." Having already ranked all these videos, I'm hardly the right person to question the integrity of a viral late-night show segment compromising itself by letting movie stars crash the car when they have a movie to promote, but it does feel a little... icky. But the Queen part? Pretty great.
16. Lady Gaga
We all know Lady Gaga can sing, but did you know she can drive too? In this lengthy entry in the series -- seriously, nobody needs over 15 minutes of "Carpool Karaoke" -- the "Poker Face" provocateur takes a turn behind the wheel, wears her big pink Joanne hat, and mostly sticks to her own songs. The singing is fine and the "Benedict Cumberbatch" vocal warm-ups are funny, but it's a bummer she doesn't do more covers. Part of the problem might be that it's hard to mine original humor from Gaga in 2016. Save your meat dress jokes, Corden.
You'd be surprised how much voguing you can do in a car seat. Madonna makes good use of her time here, putting her feet on the ceiling and eventually out the window -- all while channeling her '80s self. She mostly sticks to her hits but she has the deep catalog to make it work. The best part: Madonna playing fashion critic and roasting Corden's "very Seattle 1990s" flannel shirt.
14. Britney Spears
"What's it really about?" asks Corden early on in this soul-searching karaoke trip. In the moment, he's asking Britney Spears about her 1998 mega-hit "...Baby One More Time," but he could've just as easily been speaking more generally about a number of topics: music, love, life, or the fragile nature of existence. Spears doesn't exactly have all the answers -- she spends much of the ride discussing her desire for more children, the fake names she uses, and tickle fetishists -- but the Crossroads star is a compelling companion for this existential journey down the freeway. And, yes: they sing "Toxic," too.
13. Lin-Manuel Miranda
When Corden was announced as the host of the Tony Awards this year, a Broadway "Carpool Karaoke" felt inevitable, and this busy, very loud segment didn't disappoint. The Hamilton writer and star is a charming guest, but things really pick up when Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski hop in the car. If you spent any time at cast parties for high school musicals, this clip will make you nostalgic -- or give you harrowing flashbacks.
12. Bruno Mars
Costume changes are an essential part of many of the best "Carpool Karaoke" segments; this Bruno Mars clip is no exception. Corden and the pint-sized crooner try on a series of silly hats, discuss his Elvis-impersonating past, and sing along to horndog R&B jams like "Versace on the Floor." These two have low-key comic chemistry, but why don't we hear Mars sing some more Elvis songs? Maybe next time.
11. Jennifer Lopez
J. Lo is the ultimate professional. So it was no surprise that the American Idol judge killed the singing part of her "Carpool" challenge, but the real highlights are when she gives Corden some music video choreography tips and lends the gabby host her phone to text Leonardo DiCaprio. His response is everything you'd hope for.
10. Jason Derulo
Derulo hits like "Want to Want Me" and "Talk Dirty" are probably a better fit for the club than the carpool lane, but the charming singer makes the tracks come alive as he cruises down the freeway with Corden. And let's give the guy some extra credit: he was out till 6am the night before they filmed this. That's dedication!
9. Red Hot Chili Peppers
There aren't many rock bands that have dared to jump in the car -- I can't imagine Radiohead singing "Paranoid Android" as they drive around London with cheery Corden -- but the Red Hot Chili Peppers end up being a perfect fit for the segment's jocular tone. They sing. They wrestle. They take their clothes off. They even saved a baby's life! What can't these guys do?
8. Justin Bieber Vol. 2
Sequels rarely live up to the hype -- just ask Batman v Superman -- but this one is pretty great. It relies a bit too much on non-carpool comedy -- I don't really need a Corden and Bieber shopping trip -- but the dance moves are strong throughout, and we get a cover of Kanye West's "Stronger" and Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." As Bieber would say, swag.
I was surprised how much I liked this one. Not only does it open with a great sight gag where Sia can't see Corden, we get to see the "Chandelier" singer hold a dozen eggs in her hands and talk about aliens. Also, at one point, Corden tries on a Sia wig and says it feels like a "head hug." That's a pretty apt description of this video.
6. Michelle Obama
Watching Michelle Obama sing Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder with Corden, while also promoting her Let Girls Learn project, is a lot of fun, but this clip leaps to another level when Missy Elliott pops up in the back seat and joins the First Lady for a patriotic rendition of "Get Ur Freak On" as they roll around the White House lawn. America is a beautiful country.
5. Elton John
Corden is a master at making celebrities feel comfortable, but his chummy rapport with Sir Elton John is on another level. It makes you wish these two would star in a buddy cop movie. Seriously, just have them wear those Lion King costumes from the video, and make them solve mysteries? It could be a BBC show.
4. Justin Bieber (first appearance)
There's a reason Bieber is the guest with the most appearances: he's got the best carpool dance moves. Whether he's singing classics like "Baby" or "Boyfriend," he has the dancing-while-seated choreography down. The swivel, the head-nod, and the classic point-out-the-window-to-the-beat maneuver all show up in this clip. Also, Justin Bieber saying "dope" when Corden pulls out a Rubik's cube is definitely the comedic high point of the whole series.
3. Stevie Wonder
The buddy-buddy vibe of these videos can get a little suffocating at times, so it's nice to see Stevie Wonder goof on Corden a bit as they sing classics like "Superstition" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours." Stevie makes up for his jabs by calling up Corden's wife and singing "I Just Called to Say I Love You." If you're the type of person who cries while watching viral talk-show videos, stay away!
2. Jennifer Hudson
The Oscar-winning Dreamgirls actress sings James Corden's burger order at a fast-food place. If that's not enough to get her near the top of this list, I don't know what is.
Come on, don't act surprised. You thought we'd put Iggy Azalea at the top? In some ways, Adele's career feels like it was building to this very cheery, rainy moment. Besides her killer voice, the appeal of Adele is rooted in the way she seems like she'd be fun to drive around and shoot the shit with. The thing about this video is that she's actually even more fun than you imagined, firing off self-deprecating jokes and singing along with every track Corden throws at her. The only sad part is realizing that, according to this interview with Late Late Show producer Ben Winston, there's a 54-minute cut of this floating around a hard drive somewhere. Release the tapes, Corden! America needs more Adele.
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