One Direction were famous for not dancing. Sure, loyal Directioners were welcome to tear it up at their shows, but the fellas were not going to do a number for your amusement. But Niall Horan was happy to toss that edict aside, for one night anyway, when he played a choreo-happy pirate on The Late Late Show on Tuesday night (Feb. 28).
The singer, who has a long and fruitful friendship with soon-to-depart host James Corden, was game to play along in a bit in which a gaggle of show tunes-loving high seas marauders tortured their captive with strangely elaborate dance numbers. Wearing a traditional tricorn hat, ruffled white shirt, purple vest and scraggly beard, Horan warned the captured British soldier that he was lucky to be alive.
“This ship, and it’s booty is all ours!” he informed the British naval officer, warning that the person he should really be afraid of is their leader, the dreaded Dreadbeard. We know his name because Horan and Corden sang a whole song about it. “I bet you’ve heard a million tales that tell you who I am,” Corden crooned as a fife and drum track bubbled up out of nowhere and their fellow pirates broke out into a jig as the ship inexplicably lit up in neon lights.
“His name has traveled everywhere from England to Japan,” Horan growled, while their prisoner said the tune did answer his question about who was in charge, but in turn elicited way more questions. “Like what the hell was that?” he asked. “That whole song and dance routine? What was that for?”
“What for?” Horan snarled, barely containing his laughter. “To strike fear into your heart and spread the terrifying tale of Captain Dreadbeard.” Suffice it to say it did not do that and the captive seriously asked if this happened every time they boarded a ship.
Yes, in fact, it seems it does. Which, of course, elicited yet another elaborate number featuring their fellow pirates doing a delicate ribbon dance as Horan slipped into a seaweed-covered veil to portray a delicate siren of the deep while he and Corden shared a tender duet.
“I’m so confused right now, a mermaid broke your heart?” their hostage asked. “And whose idea were the ribbons?… And also, I’ve never met pirates before but I feel like there should be slightly less musical theater involved.” Turns out that was all Niall: he thought the ribbons added a “pop of color.”
The incessant questions sparked a mutiny among the crew, who then grumbled about the amount of high seas rehearsal they have to endure every day, along with gripes about who gets the leads in their marauder musicals. The bit ended with Horan and Corden doing an “All That Jazz”-style routine, complete with a tap dance break and Niall’s quick change into a glittery purple waistcoat for a bit-ending Rockettes high kick routine.
Horan’s forthcoming third solo album, The Show, is due out on June 9.
Watch Horan on The Late Late Show below.