George Michael made several contributions to pop culture during his lifetime (as we archived here) before he died suddenly at the age of 53. For James Corden, though, one of Michael’s contributions was practically life-changing.
Before the likes of Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Adele and more got in the car with Corden for a little “Carpool Karaoke,” Michael was the one who gave the Late Late Show host the inspiration for the now viral sketch.
In a video for Comic Relief in 2011, Corden and Michael are driving around when Corden — who was best known as Smithy on British comedy show Gavin & Stacey at the time — gets a call from Comic Relief‘s Lenny Henry requesting that Smithy helps fix the issues surrounding Comic Relief at the BBC Television Centre. The bulk of the video is centered around the Comic Relief meeting, but Michael is perhaps the most memorable part of the whole thing.
Similar to the demeanor of Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” guests, Michael displays his charming humility in the sketch, shaming Corden for being a “closet bummer” (meaning he “doesn’t want to be seen with a gay man”) and taking a shot from Corden for being an “embarrassment.” But the best part of Michael’s cameo was when Corden put on Wham! classics “I’m Your Man” and “Freedom” and the pair completely jam out.
Thank you, George Michael, for inspiring one of the best sketches in late-night television today.
Relive the original “Carpool Karaoke” clip below.