'The worst lie since Santa': why Carpool Karaoke is TV's biggest con

James Corden may be at the wheel, but it turns out the car in his all-singing, all-driving show is actually towed by a truck. Where’s the danger now? And will we ever get over the shock?

Everything you know is a lie. Yesterday, the world was shaken to its very foundations when a video of Justin Bieber taking part in James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke revealed that the whole thing is a sham, and James Corden doesn’t actually drive the car – rather, it’s towed by a truck.

Frankly, from this point onwards, up is down and down is up. Who knows what to believe any more? If Corden doesn’t really drive the car on Carpool Karaoke, then what else has he been lying to us about? Did he really write Gavin & Stacey, or did he use a ghostwriter? Are the 1,000-year-old eggs he uses in Fill Your Guts or Spill Your Guts really 1,000 years old? Next he’ll be telling us that he isn’t even really a hideous dancing CGI cat. How dare he? The man, quite honestly, deserves to spend the rest of his days sitting on a throne of fibs at the summit of Porky Pie Mountain.

And before you accuse me of overreacting, let me point out that I am by no means alone in my shock. Once the pictures hit the internet, all hell broke loose. “I feel lied to,” raged one presumably former Corden fan on Twitter. “Haven’t felt this betrayed since finding out Santa Claus isn’t real,” screamed another, angry enough to punch the head clean off the next cardboard Peter Rabbit cinema standee she saw. The world is on my side here. We’re hurt and angry.

Saw James corden and Justin Bieber filming carpool karaoke and this is why I have trust issues — he isn't even driving! pic.twitter.com/bkP9moGJmu

— Zoli ⚡️ (@zolihonig) January 23, 2020

Oh, sure, there have been other fakery scandals in the past. In 2007, BBC One’s controller was forced to resign after a documentary edited footage of the Queen to make her look slightly more grumpy than she actually was. The BBC’s Frozen Planet wildlife series was partly filmed in a zoo. The X Factor used to film its contestants flying business class to Los Angeles, before shunting them off to economy once the cameras stopped rolling. But that’s fine. You expect lies from BBC One and David Attenborough. But James Corden? Impeccable torch of moral virtue James Corden? No. Never.

There will be those who will try to defend this scandal, claiming that it is simply standard practice for the TV industry and that it probably wouldn’t have been that safe for him to be so distracted while driving, but it’s too little, too late. The joy of Carpool Karaoke was never the singing. The singing part is terrible. Nobody wants to watch a professional singer drowned out by Corden howling and shrieking like a burning witch. That’s awful. It’s offensive on every level.

Adele joins Corden for a January 2016 episode of Carpool Karaoke
Look, no hands: Adele joins Corden for a January 2016 episode of Carpool Karaoke. Photograph: CBS via Getty Images

No, we watch Carpool Karaoke for the same reason people watch ice skating. We get a kick out of all the implied jeopardy. Every second of Carpool Karaoke is a second that vibrates with the thrill of potential catastrophe. When Corden closes his eyes on a busy highway to hit the high notes of some godawful power ballad he’s trying 50% too hard to enjoy, we like it because of the danger. There is always the possibility that when he overzealously wails the chorus of a pop song that he’s two decades too old to sincerely enjoy, he will lift his hands from the steering wheel, accidentally drift over to the oncoming lane and get pancaked by a speeding sewage truck. That’s why you watch Carpool Karaoke. Deny it and I’ll run you out of town as a liar.

But now, what’s the point? All this time – with Adele, with Mariah Carey, with Paul McCartney, when he let Stevie Wonder have a go at driving – Corden has been snuggled up all tight behind a tow truck. It’s heartbreaking. Never at any point was Corden ever in danger of accidentally mowing through a crowd of tourists and wrapping his car around a lamppost. Still, at least we’ve finally worked out how he got car insurance.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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