James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” is back on “The Late Late Show” after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic — and now he’s happy to be back in the driver’s seat.
His first passenger: “Starships” singer Nicki Minaj.
“The entire afternoon that we spent together, I was so happy to be in her orbit and her company, and I really, really loved being with her,” he said during a press conference Wednesday to promote the night’s segment. “It was so joyous.”
Both Corden’s series and Minaj herself teased the segment on their social media platforms over the past week. They each shared a rollicking video of past “Karaoke” performers— including Harry Styles, Usher, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Britney Spears and Adele — as well as a new clip featuring the dynamic, dancing duo celebrating the end of “not being able to sit this close.”
A caption overlay declares that “social distancing is over” as the 39-year-old rapper’s 2014 hit “Anaconda” blasts in the background.
The preview also reveals that “Havana” singer Camila Cabello, 25, will catch a lift — and a few tunes — on “Carpool Karaoke” on April 18.
The wildly popular — if oddly controversial segment, which spun off a full series in 2017, was put on hold in 2020 due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s felt over the past year — very, very slowly, in one sense or another — like we started to get our show back. But this was, this is obviously a big part of our show — this segment,” Corden, 43, said Wednesday.
“The entire pandemic … there [were] so many things that we couldn’t do, and I think that’s true of every show,” he continued. “But for us, our show is very much about getting out there, whether that’s running out into the street and doing musicals in a crosswalk or big taped bits or having all the guests together on a couch at the same time.”
However, he wasn’t about to rev the engines too quickly in order to get it back on the air, even after a long two years.
“The conclusion we came to was not to do this segment unless we could do it right,” he said. “So that’s why it took a long time. There’s probably a version of it we could have done a while ago, but … it didn’t feel completely right.”
Fans can catch the return of “Carpool Karaoke” during the late-night gabfest, which airs at 12:37 a.m. ET on CBS.