For the second year in a row, the host of The Late Late Show is emceeing the Grammys, and, in a surprising move, James Corden didn't do a monologue for the 2018 Grammys. Even though Corden said in interviews before the awards show that he wanted to let music be the focus, it was surprising that he didn't do anything, because he is quite musical himself and very theatrical. Just look at last year. During the 2017 show, Corden faked falling down a set of stairs after emerging from beneath the stage. He then went on to perform a rap about the nominees of the night — with a Donald Trump reference included, of course; last year's show was not even a month after the president's inauguration.
This year, though, had none of that. After Kendrick Lamar's electric performance, Corden popped out only briefly to announce that the show was beginning. He also only had one real joke during that time. After saying that Sunday's show featured the "most diverse group of nominees in Grammys history," he added that it once again had the "the least diverse host in Grammys history." And with that, he announced that Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson would be the next performers. The Grammys is nothing if not jam-packed with performances, and Corden was well aware of that.
Ahead of the show the 39-year-old talk show host spoke about how his job for the night wasn't to perform big comedy numbers or steal the spotlight from the nominees and musicians performing.
“In truth, this show doesn’t need a host," Corden told Variety three days before the show. "Most awards shows are groups of millionaires giving each other gold statues. So you need a host to make it feel like a show. This is the best [music] lineup you could ever imagine to see."
He does know that his role has a specific and very useful purpose, though. "What we have to do is essentially be there for the moments when [producers] realize they need the cameras to be facing somewhere else," he explained. He also added that his job was to "try to bring in some little tiny pockets of joy," between everything else that's going on.
Even after hosting last year, going into the show Corden was a little nervous. "I'm from High Wycombe which is a town that none of you have heard of. That's how small it is," he told CBS This Morning about how humbling it is to be hosting. "And so to be hosting a show like the Grammys is so far beyond anything I ever thought I would ever do with my life. We're going to try and, you know, just not ruin it, really."
On top of it being an anxiety-inducing experience to go into, this year the Into The Woods star also had to recognize the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that have taken Hollywood and the nation at large by storm. Corden told the AP that the show will feature moments in solidarity with the movements, including one performance in particular, which NBC 5 Chicago guesses will be Kesha's performance of her song "Praying".
After Gaga's performance and the first award of the night (which went to Lamar), Corden again took the stage and did bring viewers one of those "tiny pockets of joy." He joked around with JAY-Z, who was in the audience, by reciting some lines from his hit "Empire State Of Mind".
Fans might have wanted to see Corden do a musical number, but while he didn't sing or dance or do a monologue, it's clear that he takes his hosting role very seriously.