In 2011, Michael agreed to do a sketch with Corden for Comic Relief, a charity known for Red Nose Day, that was founded in the U.K. to fight poverty. George wanted to talk to Corden about the sketch himself, but because of differing time zones he had to call Corden at 3 a.m. London time.
“We chatted for an hour,” Corden said. “We talked about music, and I felt very privileged to be able to tell him how much his music meant to me.”
The sketch that they did, based on a character Corden played in the British sitcom, would later inspire the Late Night host’s viral “Carpool Karaoke” series.
“It was the first time I’d ever sung in a car with anybody, and it’s become quite a big part of my life now,” Corden said.
He went on to explain that, when pitching pop starts to participate, Corden and his team would pitch the video of Michael singing as an example. Mariah Carey was the first of say yes.
“If it’s good enough for George, then it’s good enough for me,” Corden remembers her saying. “I’ll do it.”
Corden wrapped the segment by playing his sketch with Michael.
Watch the full tribute below: