It’ll always seem slightly mad that James Corden is a global megastar. It feels like he went from Gavin & Stacey to hobnobbing with A-listers in the space of about eight weeks. He’s obviously really good at what he does, and very likeable and charming and everything (mostly), but still, there’s something slightly unbelievable about it.
It’s like seeing someone you went to school with, but he’s palling around with Michelle Obama. There’s a cognitive dissonance there – “Hey, there’s that guy who’s just like me! Except, he’s not, is he? He’s driving a really nice car around LA with Britney Spears singing next to him, and I’m sitting on a rickety stool watching videos of him on a Nokia N-Gage with the sound drowned out by two foxes having sex, and they’re not even in the garden, they’re in the room, they are in the room with me. Someone rid me of these mating vermin. Please.”
But star he is, and one of the main drivers - literally - has been his hugely successful Carpool Karaoke strand, the breakout format of Corden’s Late Late Show run. And it works for everyone who appears on it - instant viral gold and instant worldwide publicity and the artist coming across like a good egg, unafraid to have a laugh, whilst simultaneously reminding everyone that a) you’ve done a load of massive tunes and b) you’ve got a new record coming out by the way.
But one person, and one person alone, turned their back on this.
That’s right – while Adele, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Katy Perry said yes, one person walked away.
(A fun fact before we get to who it was: Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers supposedly saved a baby’s life filming his segment. While filming, they heard a woman screaming “My baby! My baby!” Running towards her, Kiedis found an unconscious baby thrust into his arms and, finding the baby unable to receive CPR due to a clamped-shut mouth, opted to rub its belly until it regurgitated “some bubbles” and was fine.)
(That story, with all due respect to Anthony Kiedis, sounds like a big load of nonsense. If your baby’s unwell, you don’t hand it to the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.)
(If they were called the Red Hot Chili Paediatricians, sure.)
(But they aren’t.)
Anyway: the reveal.
As Corden revealed during a segment of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” (a sort of “truth or eat” kind of game) with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, the big name that refused to get involved was none other than Bryan Adams.
It turns out it was meant to be part of an ‘80s pastiche, where Corden would be driving a DeLorean and sing with a bunch of stars from the 1980s. Nobody told Bryan Adams that, and he turned up, saw the list of other performers and, in Corden’s words, “he just bolted”.
“What happened was, for the anniversary of Back to the Future, we were gonna do a sort of, ‘Best of the ‘80s Carpool Karaoke.’ And we had booked — in a DeLorean — and we booked Bryan Adams, right, to come and do the thing, and we were very excited.
“I love Bryan Adams, he’s got hits for days, he’s terrific. I don’t know that Bryan’s management had told Bryan that it was a sort of a collaboration with lots of other singers from that time period.
“Bryan’s walked in, seen the list of other people that have done it, turned around, walked, and got in his car and left. I’ve never seen - I’ve never heard from him. He just bolted. He was gone.”
In Adams’ defence, he had hits all through the 1980s and 1990s, has been nominated for three Oscars, four Golden Globes and 15 Grammys, held the record for the longest time spent at Number One in this country with an astonishing sixteen weeks for ’(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’, and is also a highly accomplished photographer. He’s on a stamp. A stamp they printed a million and a half of. He’s quite a big deal, is Bryan Adams. He wrote Run To You. Dressing him in a silly wig and making him high-five the guy from A Flock Of Seagulls is a bit dismissive.
“I kind of understand it,” said Corden. “I get it, and I hold no grudge.”
Still, it’s good news for comedy segment producers of the future: when putting together 2050’s hottest viral hit, Spaceship Holosongs, and doing a retro episode set in the 2010s, call up James Corden.