Fun in the fast lane: James Corden presents 'Carpool Karaoke' special

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Kyla Brewer / TV Media
James Corden hosts "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017"

James Corden hosts "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017"

Navigating through Los Angeles traffic may seem like the least likely situation in which to find joy, but one of late night's biggest stars has managed to do just that, thanks to music. Famous figures belt out tunes as James Corden takes the wheel in his popular late-night segment "Carpool Karaoke," which has become enormously popular both in his show, "The Late Late Show With James Corden," and on YouTube.

For anyone who hasn't experienced the fun in the carpool lane, Corden presents an all-new segment in "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017," premiering Monday, May 22, on CBS. In addition to Corden's favorite "Late Late Show" moments, the one-hour special also includes Toddlerography, which features celebs trying to follow routines choreographed by toddler instructors. This marks the second such prime-time special -- last year's edition won an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special, and plans for a stand-alone series are in the works.

"The joy of 'Carpool' is the intimacy it creates, and seeing the love our passengers have for music," explained Ben Winston, executive producer of "The Late Late Show With James Corden" when news of a "Carpool Karaoke" series was announced.

Inspired by a "Gavin & Stacey" sketch he'd performed with George Michael in 2011, the "Carpool Karaoke" bits have been a hit from the very first one, which featured Corden with Mariah Carey in March 2015. Other stars who've ridden shotgun with Corden include Bruno Mars, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber, Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Obama with Missy Elliot, Britney Spears, Madonna and Lady Gaga, among others. The edition featuring Adele has garnered the most attention so far, going viral with 42 million views within five days. The clip has earned more than 155 million views and is still climbing.

Those are impressive stats, but even more impressive was the story of how Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis helped save a baby's life during the filming of the band's "Carpool Karaoke" segment. As the story goes, following an unaired dance-off, Kiedis and the other band members noticed a woman clutching her baby, saying she couldn't breathe, so they rushed to them to see if they could help. In an interview with Chris Moyles on Radio X, the singer recounted how he rubbed the baby's belly for a short while before the ambulance arrived, which appeared to help get the tyke breathing again.

With mind-boggling YouTube hits and tales of life-saving frontmen, Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" was bound to land a regular series order eventually, and it has. In July, it was announced that Apple had inked a deal to offer a 16-episode series to its subscribers, making it Apple Music's first show. While it may not always be Corden at the wheel in the stand-alone version, as an official host hasn't been announced, some of the celebrities slated to appear in the series include John Legend, Alicia Keys, Blake Shelton and members of Metallica, who sing along to songs from their own playlists. A preview also shows a clip of Corden with actor and rapper Will Smith ("Ali," 2001).

Bruno Mars and James Corden as seen in "Carpool Karaoke"

Bruno Mars and James Corden as seen in "Carpool Karaoke"

Sadly for fans, the series edition of the late-night sketch has been delayed. The show had been scheduled to be released to Apple subscribers in April, but that month it was announced the show would be available later in the year. No reason was given for the postponement.

Regardless of when it premieres, given the popularity of the "The Late Late Show's" comedy segment, it has a lot of potential. Nor is it the first series to be inspired by late-night fun. Trendsetter Jimmy Fallon got the party started with his "Lip Sync Battle" sketches, which feature two celebrities who go head-to-head in epic lip sync competitions. They began in "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" after creators John Krasinski ("The Office") and Stephen Merchant ("Extras") came up with the idea in anticipation of Krasinski's appearance on the show. The battles take place occasionally in "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," and also in an uber-popular prime-time series, which airs Thursday nights on Spike TV.

"Carpool Karaoke" is also not the first show to take place almost exclusively in cars. Jerry Seinfeld ("Seinfeld") has been filming conversations between himself and fellow comedians in his web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" since 2012, when the show premiered on the digital network Crackle. Now in its ninth season, the show will move to Netflix next season.

Seinfeld's series, however, was hardly the first show to hit the road. The U.K. game show "Cash Cab," which gives unsuspecting passengers the opportunity to win money by answering trivia questions, predates Seinfeld's "Comedians," having premiered in 2005. It has since been licensed to several other countries across the globe.

Another Spike TV series mixes elements of Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" and "Cash Cab." Craig Robinson hosts "Caraoke Showdown," which challenges passengers to sing their favorite songs, finish lyrics or act out songs for the chance to win cash.

It appears shows about riding around in cars are trending, and viewers can enjoy the streets of Los Angeles from the comfort of their living rooms, thanks to Corden and his crew in "The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2017," premiering Monday, May 22, on CBS.