James Corden

Grammy Preview Issue: James Corden Dishes on Grammy-Hosting Plans & His Inner Sasha Fierce

Will the 2017 Grammys be... funny? Not so fast, cautions first-time host James Corden -- but they will be fun, which he demonstrates as he riffs on Kanye, Trump and talks about whether he’s a Beyoncé or an Adele.

As a huge music fan, do you have a favorite Grammy moment?

This may be an odd choice because there are infinitely more important moments, but when Annie Lennox came onstage with Hozier two years ago. I’d forgotten how incredible she is because I hadn’t seen her sing for quite a while. In a world where there are so many music award shows, the Grammys is the one that provides you with those moments.

So it’s the Super Bowl of music award shows?
It’s the Super Bowl for people who’ve performed at halftime of the Super Bowl.

Since you’re hosting, I’m sure you can explain the difference between song of the year and record of the year.
Um, I could, but it’s a very deep question, which I will leave to The Recording Academy to answer. (Laughs.) I don’t know, mate.

Yeah, no one does. Is it better for the show if Kanye West wins awards, or better if he loses?
I always love when Kanye wins, because I’m a huge fan. I don’t know that he would interrupt someone’s speech again.

Craig Sugden/CBS via Getty Images
Corden with Adele on “Carpool Karaoke” in January 2016. 

And if he does?
I’ll take him down. He will hit the floor quicker than he has ever known.

What was your first concert?
First concert I saw was a British boy band called Take That, when I was 14 or 15. I went with nine girls from school. No boys liked Take That, and it was weird if you did because they danced around and wore matching clothes. But I didn’t grow up with a dad who told me something was manly or not manly.

Are you more of an Adele or more of a Beyoncé?
I know Adele quite well and she’s a good friend. So I’d probably say Adele, given that she’s from London. But when I dance, I look almost identical to Beyoncé. And I mean identical. In many ways, when she becomes Sasha Fierce, she’s actually just becoming me.

George Michael was the first person who ever starred in “Carpool Karaoke.” When was the last time you talked to him?
Quite some time ago. But I’ve been talking to his management often, because this year is the 25th anniversary of Listen Without Prejudice. I did an interview for a film they’re making. It’s so sad because they said he was doing great and was thinking about what he was going to do next.

As host, will you be making fun of the musicians?
I don’t think so. The Grammys are not really a place for comedy. And I’m only in the show for 17 minutes or so, across the four hours. My intention is to make it fun before it’s funny.

What will you do during the three hours and 43 minutes you’re not onstage?
I’ll be trying to find catering, I imagine.

Speaking of which: Many of us who have the same physique as you won’t take off our shirts in public. You do it on your show. Often. Why?
It’s just your body. It doesn’t define who you are. In fact, when you see boring films, they’re often when people all look the same. All that matters is: How am I going to be happy and make others happy in this incredibly short window while I’m on this floating orb in the middle of nowhere?

If you had Donald Trump on your show, what would you ask him?
We’ve never pursued having him on the show. But I’ve thought about this a lot, and I have a really good idea to play a game called “Stand By It or Take It Back.” I’ll read him something he’s said, and he’ll have two paddles. One says “Stand by it” and one says “Take it back.” Then you ask, “You said this 18 months ago about this particular group of people, do you stand by it or do you take it back? If you stand by it, you’ve got to tell me why.” It would be fun if he did it, wouldn’t it?

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Corden onstage as host of the Tony Awards in June.

Will we see Trump on your show?
I have no idea. I don’t even know who’s on the show next week.

Tell me something you envy about one of your fellow late night hosts.
Oh, I can tell you something I envy about all of them: their salary. That’s the only thing I envy.

Are you the lowest paid talk show host on network TV?
I cannot imagine there is one paid less. I’m very happy with what I’m making, and then I hear what the other dudes are making and think, “Hang on a second!”

You are the new kid on the block. Is it a job you want to keep for years?
I don’t know. I mean, we haven’t been on the air two years yet. If this time two years ago someone had said you’d be interviewing me about hosting the Grammys, your first question would have been, “Who the f— is that guy?”

For Brits, the weather in Los Angeles is usually a big attraction, right?
I think the weather here is a big attraction for anyone. But also, there are more creative people per square mile in L.A. than anywhere in the world. They make The Simpsons here. Anywhere they make The Simpsons is a good place to be.

Will you be going to Grammy afterparties?
We’ll see. If it was a complete disaster and I spent the night crying and throwing up, I don’t think I’ll be in the mood for partying.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of Billboard.

2017 Grammys