Based on tonight’s premiere episode, with Corden and Will Smith, “Carpool Karaoke” is struggling a little to find a standalone spark outside the world of “The Late Late Show.” During Corden’s late-night show, the sunny highways of Southern California provided a visual and structural break from the show’s set — and in a medium that relies on celebrity guests, “Carpool Karaoke” is a fun way to combine interview elements with an activity that performers would naturally be good at.
But on its own, “Carpool Karaoke’s” weaknesses are magnified. The segment always had a bit of overenthusiasm for celebrity; the viewer is invited into a private hangout but can’t participate, as notable names and famous faces joke and sing with each other. This is unfortunate, because at its most successful, “Carpool Karaoke” makes its participants unassuming and even relatable. Adele busting out Nicki Minaj’s verse in Kanye West’s “Monster” makes even her — a multi-platinum pop diva — as familiar as the next person in line at the drive-thru. In the premiere of the Apple Music show, Will Smith decides to skip out on traffic by directing Corden to a private helicopter. “Carpool Karaoke” on Apple Music is just another unscripted series about famous people with varying degrees of talent, in scenarios that are partly choreographed and partly staged.
Insightful review. Read the whole thing.