The Case Against ‘Carpool Karaoke’

Cultural Critic
08.01.16 12 Comments
carpool karaoke

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You know that one thing in your life that you’re holding out on? That thing that everybody seems to like, and yet you are determined to avoid at all costs? That thing you sort of hate even though you have zero firsthand knowledge of it? Well, I’m here to tell you: It’s okay! In this specific instance, ignorance might be bliss.

Given the non-stop barrage of stimuli that the Internet introduces into our lives, I believe that it’s necessary to maintain at least one “that thing” as a kind of mini-vacation from the avalanche of content we all drown in daily. It doesn’t matter what your “that thing” is — it could be Game of Thrones, it could be Hamilton, it could be Stranger Things or it could be Beyonce’s Lemonade. It doesn’t even matter if that thing is good or bad, or if you’re “missing out” on “personal enrichment” or “cultural knowledge.” I mean, sure, you probably are missing out. But again: It’s okay! You have permission to be out of touch sometimes.

What matters is giving yourself a break from the constant FOMO pressure. It’s vital for personal sanity. Besides, there’s a chance that “that thing” truly is bad, and your grumpiness is, in fact, 100 percent justified.

For me, that thing was “Carpool Karaoke.” For more than a year, “Carpool Karaoke” has been my personal form of click-repellant. I dodged it with the skill and shamelessness of Trump ducking out on his creditors.

Let me tell you: Avoiding this amazingly (insanely?) popular segment derived from The Late Late Show with James Corden wasn’t easy. Since its debut in March 2015 (which occurred almost immediately after Corden took over The Late Late Show from Craig Ferguson that spring), “Carpool Karaoke” has garnered a staggering 830 million YouTube views, including 119 million just for the Adele episode from January. Another popular installment with Michelle Obama has already attracted more than 34 million views after airing just over a week ago.

Given that kind of visibility, it was impossible to completely block out “Carpool Karaoke.” Just from cultural osmosis, I understood the arithmetic (Corden + pop star = cuteness) and was conversant with some of the biggest moments. (Adele’s battle rap! The Missy Elliott cameo in the Obama segment! Corden rubbing man-boobs with Anthony Kiedis!)

So, how did I otherwise justify my Carpool Karaoke boycott? What was the point? My reasoning was shallow and despicable, but nonetheless persuasive in my own heart: I can’t stand James Corden’s karaoke face.

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