In March, it was revealed that James Corden and the producers of The Late Late Show were shopping a series based on Corden’s well-received Late Late Show segment, Carpool Karaoke. Have you ever seen Carpool Karaoke? No? Not to worry. I was concerned this criminally under-publicized bit of wee-hours programming might have slipped under your radar, so I’ve cued up one of the segments for you to watch right now. It features Corden and fellow Brit entertainer Adele driving around, listening to some tunes on the stereo, and singing along whilst having a chat. Got it? More or less? Don’t worry, it’s not that complicated, I promise! OK, let’s watch it together!
That’s it! It’s a gas, right? Maybe you’d like to see more celebrities doing the exact same thing? Well, Corden has a million of ‘em. Look, it’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers! The gag is … they’re naked! And so is Corden! Haha.
I feel like we’re clear on the basics here, right? Easily repeatable, low-concept video content that is more or less guaranteed to go viral based on: (1) brand recognition; (2) a charming host; (3) Mom-friendly shareability; and (4) simply being a pleasant (or only mildly aggravating) distraction from the fact that we’ll all be living in Fury Road by 2020.
So why not develop a full-blown series from this thinly conceived skit? Sure it peaked with that Adele clip, and there doesn’t seem to be much potential to bust out of the established formula, but if we’ve learned anything from Real Housewives or The Bachelor or Law & Order or whatever, it’s that people like comfort food and they don’t care if it’s a little stale or warmed over. (No shade. I love comfort food. I’ve re-watched every season of RuPaul’s Drag Race at least three times, and RuPaul’s Drag Race pretty much cops its entire formula from America’s Next Top Model, which was on for like 25 years before being cancelled for three months only to be REBOOTED with Rita Ora as its host, airing THIS FALL on VH1.)
Yep, it makes sense that they’d go full Joanie Loves Chachi with this one. But here’s the curveball: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Carpool Karaoke: The Series isn’t going to CBS or MTV or YouTube or anything like that; instead, the 16-episode first season was picked up by … Apple Music.
Yes, the on-demand music app!
Here’s what Apple Music’s Eddy Cue had to say about the acquisition:
We love music, and Carpool Karaoke celebrates it in a fun and unique way that is a hit with audiences of all ages. It’s a perfect fit for Apple Music — bringing subscribers exclusive access to their favorite artists and celebrities who come along for the ride.
OK so … that makes sense, I guess. They love music! Why not shell out however many tens of millions it surely cost to land this prize piece of intellectual property? But — and I’m just playing devil’s advocate here — isn’t Carpool Karaoke successful in large part because it’s on YouTube and can thus be shared easily, as opposed to being locked behind a paywall and available to only 15 million subscribers, 11 million of whom appear to be extreme Drake stans who do nothing but play VIEWS on repeat all day long in order to boost the numbers?
Let’s have a look at the metrics (per THR):
News of the deal comes after a recent installment of Carpool Karaoke with Michelle Obama that has already accumulated 32 million views on YouTube. The top installment remains Corden’s drive with Adele, which has 119 million YouTube views, making it the most-viewed clip for all of late night. All told, the segment has generated 830 million YouTube views since it began in March 2015.
Hmm. Well, that’s out of reach. So we’ve eliminated Mom-friendly shareability from the list of pros. Oh, one other thing?
The host of the series is expected to be announced at a later date; Corden is not expected to take the wheel.
Ah see that’s a shame. So we’re also losing the “charming host” part. (No disrespect to, like, Joey Fatone or whoever will be replacing Corden! I’m sure that person will be perfectly likable in their own way!)
We’ve still got “brand recognition,” of course, although that’s probably gonna be compromised by the absence of factors such as YouTube and Corden, not to mention the fact that Carpool Karaoke will be competing against the upcoming series Caraoke Showdown, hosted by Craig Robinson, airing NEXT YEAR on Spike TV.
Oh also? Corden will continue to do Carpool Karaoke on The Late Late Show, probably because that’s more or less the only thing anyone knows about The Late Late Show, further diluting brand recognition of the Apple Music spinoff WHILE ALSO competing for the same eyeballs without the hindrance of any sort of platform-based restrictions.
So … tough market! But if you’re an Apple shareholder looking for a bright side, you’ve got this: The Fury Road thing is still happening, and we need all the distractions we can get.
No premiere date has been announced for Apple Music’s Carpool Karaoke, but “it is expected to be soon.”