Smokey Robinson and James Corden Battle in Soul Music Riff-Off

The Late Late Show with James Corden -  Smokey Robinson - August 14, 2019 - Publicity -H 2019
Courtesy of Terence Patrick/CBS

Robinson performed classic songs that included "Get Ready" and "Cruisin'," while the host sang modern hits "Finesse" and "Juice."

On Wednesday's episode of The Late Late Show, Smokey Robinson and James Corden competed against each other in a riff-off to see if classic or modern soul music is better.

The segment opened with Corden sitting alone at his desk. He told the audience that he had recently watched Showtime's upcoming documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown, which he praised.

The host then shared his controversial opinion that new soul music is better than the original stuff. "I'm talking Usher, Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill," Corden said. "I feel like new soul has a better sound."

Motown legend Smokey Robinson ultimately walked onstage to challenge Corden's view. "I heard you've been telling people that modern soul music is better than classic soul music," said Robinson. "Classic soul music is my thing, man."

Robinson soon challenged Corden to a classic soul vs. modern soul riff-off.

The host welcomed an a capella group to the stage before he and the musician went head to head. "I'll be honest, I felt more confident when I was over there," said Corden as his face inched closer to Robinson. The singer responded, "Get ready."

The battle kicked off with Corden performing Bruno Mars' "Finesse." Following the host's number, Robinson sang The Temptations' "Get Ready." Robinson turned to the audience and directed them to sing "Get ready, get ready" during the performance. While Corden motioned that he wasn't impressed by Robinson's performance, the audience erupted into applause.

"James, it seems like you weren't quite ready that time," Robinson said. Corden responded, "You worry about the Smokey, I'll worry about the jokey."

The host added that it was time to bring the competition "up a notch" before he began to sing Lizzo's "Juice." Robinson then performed his song "Cruisin'," which was positively received by the audience.

"That was incredible. Fine, you win," said Corden as he cut off the audience's cheers for Robinson. "I don't even know why I got into this stupid fight. I mean, you're Smokey Robinson. I didn't stand a chance, man. I think about music and I just lose it."

The singer tried to calm down the host, who called himself an "idiot" for competing against Robinson. "What are we fighting about anyway? Soul music is community," said Robinson. "In fact, let's sing this next one together."

The riff-off concluded with the two singing "My Girl" by The Temptations. The audience soon joined the singer, host and a capella group, and they all sang the classic song.

Watch the full segment below.