By Mike Hughes
For many latenight
hosts, music seemed like an afterthought.
No one expected
Johnny Carson to sing or Jack Paar to wail on the guitar. Many shows,
including Jay Leno's and David Letterman's, had a flat rule – no
songs until the final segment.
So this mini-trend
is a pleasant surprise: CBS' James Corden and NBC's Jimmy Fallon
clearly love music -- and now Corden has taken it further. He
co-starred in a movie musical (“Into the Woods”) ... hosted and
sang at the Tony Awards ... and now will do the same at the Grammys.
“Music, for me,
has always been something that surrounded me in various moments –
whether good or bad, ups or downs,” Corden said. “It's made me
feel like I'm not on my own.”
Yes, he started as a
chubby kid from small-town England, ready to do comedy. But the music
was always in the background, he said. “My father was a musician in
the Air Force. His father was a musician and HIS father was a
Back in 2010, Corden
was featured on “Shout,” which became the unofficial anthem of
England's World Cup team and reached No. 1 in England. In 2014, he
co-starred in the movie musical “Into the Woods.” And in between
those was a British charity special; Corden did a bit with George
Michael, singing in the confines of a moving car.
That became “Carpool
Karaoke,” now the most popular bit on Corden's latenight show.
“We've got a huge advantage in this day and age” via YouTube,
producer Ben Winston said. “The next morning you can see if six,
seven, eight million people are watching those bits.”
instantly – and is being turned into a separate series on the
Apple service. On his show, it has let Corden sing alongside Adele,
Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, Britney
Spears and more. That should put him at ease at the Grammys.
A talkshow host
who's a musician? In the early days, that was common. Merv Griffin
and Mike Douglas has been band singers; Steve Allen claimed to have
written 8,500 songs, including one (“This Could Be the Start of
Something”) that became a classic.
Much later, Alan
Thicke had a short-lived latenight show. He'd had some success in
music; his son Robin would have much more.
But often, music was
slid to the talk-show background – until Fallon and Corden came
-- Jimmy Fallon,
11:35 p.m. weekdays, NBC
-- James Corden,
12:37 p.m. weekdays, CBS
-- Corden hosts the
Grammys, 8-11:30 p.m. ET Sunday (Feb. 12), CBS. On the West Coast, it
starts at 5 p.m. PT and reruns at 8:30