James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special made its return to television Monday night with special guests Christina Aguilera and Melissa McCarthy.
Making her debut on the Late Late Show host’s fan-favorite segment, Aguilera performed a slew of duets with Corden as the pair belted out some of the singer’s biggest hits, including “Beautiful,” “Dirrty” and “Fighter.” Throughout the ride, Corden shared quips with Aguilera, asking her to teach him how to sing with her signature growl and reveal who she had a crush on during her Mickey Mouse Club Days.
“Even then, at your age, could you find yourself getting lost in Ryan Gosling’s eyes?” Corden asked the singer, who later admitted that she had more of a liking for Justin Timberlake, who “had swag.” She also admitted that Gosling had a crush on Club castmate Britney Spears. “She must be regretting that,” Corden said. After Aguilera argued that Spears “got Justin” in the end, Corden jabbed, of the former couple’s breakup, “That worked out wonderfully.”
Aguilera, who is set to appear in Life of the Party, surprised Corden with a special appearance by the film’s star, McCarthy, who spontaneously appeared in the car’s backseat to rap during the singer’s song “Dirrty.” McCarthy and Corden comically struggled when receiving voice lessons from Aguilera.
Corden also welcomed Mom stars Allison Janney and Anna Faris, The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar and Young Sheldon’s Iain Armitage for “Crosswalk the Musical: The Sound of Music,” in which they staged a reenactment of the musical on the streets of Los Angeles.
“CBS doesn’t think I’m capable of handling primetime on my own,” the late-night host said, admitting that he was being forced to welcome the network’s stars to his show’s segment. Tension continued to build after Janney appeared dressed in the costume of Julie Andrews’ Sound of Music character, Maria.
“I don’t know who she thinks she is,” Corden said, arguing that he had always tackled the leading role and so would also portray Maria. “If I’m doing it, you bet your sweet ass I’m playing Maria,” Janney said, challenging Corden to simply have “the best bitch win.” Meanwhile, Armitage quit during rehearsal, arguing that he’s simply more of a “West Side Story guy.”
Throughout the segment, Janney, Farris and Nayyar performed various popular scenes from the film, singing songs such as “My Favorite Things,” “The Lonely Goatherd” and “Do-Re-Mi.”
Though it was meant to be a fun experience, a rift formed between Janney and Corden, who continued to compete over being the best Maria. “It’s like Feud. They’re like Bette Davis and Tupac. No, that’s not right. Like Joan Craword and Tupac,” Faris joked.
After the cast grew tired of the competitiveness, Farris resolved the tiff by saying that Janney made for the perfect Maria because she embodied “her sense of strength and resilience,” whereas Corden had “whimsy” and possessed Andrews’ “perfect cheekbones.” The cast then all dressed as Maria during their final performance.
The event was the third primetime special spawned by Corden’s popular Late Late Show segment. The first two, in 2016 and 2017, won Emmy Awards in the outstanding variety special category.