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Jay-Z, "Subway Karaoke," Kesha: James Corden's Top 7 Highlights | 2018 GRAMMYs
Last year, James Corden began his debut as GRAMMY host with what looked like the most epic of fails: a shocking tumble down the grand, center-stage staircase that left him awkwardly sprawled among some oblivious backup dancers. The seemingly distraught host rose to his feet (one of which had lost a shoe), dismissed the dancers and proclaimed, "This is a disaster."
Of course, the 59th GRAMMY Awards telecast turned out to be anything but disastrous, and Corden's introduction was just the first of many moments in which the "Late Late Show" host made his freewheeling, comedic spirit an unforgettable part of Music's Biggest Night. The Emmy winner appeared pantless after Twenty One Pilots' notably pantless acceptance for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and showed up in spectacular, concert-ready costume as a "member" of DNCE, among other highlights.
At the milestone 60th GRAMMY Awards show, Corden kept his tux on, but the laughter and energy that he brought to his first turn as host was in great supply, and he again helped turn Music's Biggest Night into an incredible, fun-filled, one-of-a-kind celebration.
Here are seven highlights from Corden's GRAMMY encore:
1. "Carpool Karaoke" With A NYC Spin
This year, Corden added a Big Apple twist by introducing a remote "Subway Carpool Karaoke" sketch. He, Sting and Shaggy boarded a New York City D train and attempted to entertain passengers with renditions of the Police's "Every Breath You Take," Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me," and the duo's new collaboration, "Don't Make Me Wait." The tough crowd did not appreciate the musical interruption, and Corden ended up getting belted in the nose by an angry construction worker.
2. The Host's Parents Arrive Late
Last year, Corden's parents were in the crowd and as he introduced them he noted that their 45th wedding anniversary actually fell on GRAMMY Sunday — only to discover that his father had Heidi Klum sitting on his lap and that his mother was snuggling with Nick Jonas. This year, his parents were again in attendance and their moment of introduction seemed to be going more smoothly until Corden spotted a telltale theater program. His parents admitted that they'd snuck out to see "Hamilton" rather than watch their son’s entire hosting performance. "Thanks for your support," said an exasperated Corden. "We'll talk about this later."
3. Puppy Love For The Best Comedy Nominees
After Dave Chappelle won for Best Comedy Album, Corden told the audience, "I don't want anyone to be upset tonight, so the good news is nobody goes home empty-handed." He then announced that the nominees who did not win in their category would receive "consolation puppies." The camera cut to baby pugs being handed to Chappelle's fellow nominees — Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, and Jim Gaffigan. Corden warned Seinfeld, "Be careful — that's Roxy. She's a biter."
4. Corden Goes Toe To Toe With Hova
Early in the show, Corden attempted to bond with Jay-Z, the recipient of this year's Salute To Industry Icon honors at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala, offering to show him around the streets of New York if Jay-Z needed a guide. "Guys like me and you, we're hood forever," said Corden, who swaggered a bit as he tossed off lines from Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind." "I got my stash spot on 560 State Street. Gypsy cab. Holla back." As Jay-Z cracked up, Corden added, "You call it the Big Apple. I call it the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. It’s just something that I made up"
5. A "Despacito" Funny
After Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee performed "Despacito" — arguably 2017's most ubiquitous song with nearly 5 billion YouTube views to its credit, Corden said, "That is a catchy song. I have not heard that song before. I'm telling you if they can just get that song on the radio they've got a hit on their hands."
6. Creating A Concert Feeling
Corden spoke of the excitement of being in Madison Square Garden and told TV viewers that he'd come up with a unique way for them to "really experience that live concert feeling." As he spoke, eight hands holding cellphones trained on Corden suddenly lurched in front of the camera, completely blocking Corden from view.
7. Kesha's Performance Resonates
Janelle Monáe spoke pointedly on the issues of equality and harassment, encouraging the music industry to become a pivotal part of the Time's Up initiative. She was followed by perhaps the most emotional performance of the evening, as Kesha delivered a searing version of "Praying." Afterward, a visibly moved Corden had to take a deep breath and gather himself before speaking. "Music often resonates more than spoken word ever could," he said. "That was an incredibly powerful and relevant performance that comes in the midst of a movement that commands our attention and support. Thank you, Kesha."
(Chuck Crisafulli is an L.A.-based journalist and author whose most recent works include Go To Hell: A Heated History Of The Underworld, Me And A Guy Named Elvis, Elvis: My Best Man, and Running With The Champ: My Forty-Year Friendship With Muhammad Ali.)