Stop what you're doing, because if you're a fan of Carpool Karaoke and if you're getting tired of that whole bit, then you're going to love Victoria Beckham's Carpool Karaoke/Mannequin remake. I'll explain that slash in a second. When it comes to Carpool Karaoke, how could you resist it? It's the format that boasts Britain's most affable TV presenter, adds in a pop star, puts them in a car, and makes them sing sweet harmonies together. But it's been a recurring segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden since 2015, and, clearly, the bright sparks behind it have decided it was time to freshen it up some. Enter Beckham, and I think we can all agree that she has changed everything. And how.
The imagined reboot riffs on the 1987 movie Mannequin, which starred Kim Cattrall (who you'll know as Samantha on Sex and the City) as a mannequin, who comes to life for just one guy and he promptly falls in love with her. It's a wonderfully out-there movie for them to parody, and it shows that musician-slash-designer Beckham's more than willing to poke fun of herself as a fashionista by playing the ultimate lady defined by her clothes — a mannequin.
But, besides all that, it shows how much more Carpool Karaoke could be. This doesn't have to just be all about the witty back-and-forth and then showing off another pop star's incredible vocal chords (because it's not that surprising that if you're a singer, you have a good voice). This segment could become all about its story.
This makes sense. After all, the framing device for Carpool Karaoke has always been a big part of its charm. The presenter knows we're not stupid. He knows we don't actually believe that Madonna has agreed to show Corden round the city because he doesn't "know New York that well" or that Selena Gomez is just there to help him get to work. But the brains behind the format know that we want to believe that he's actually friends with these people, and so, as in theater, we delve into a "willing suspension of disbelief."
And the framing intros have got winkier and winkier. Who could forget Adele's Carpool Karaoke segment, which opens on Corden shoehorning the first lines of the pop star's most famous song into a convincing intro: "Hello," he says into his mobile phone. "It's me. I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet." We laugh because we're amazed at how perfectly these lyrics fit a conversation that he'd have in Carpool Karaoke.
The artist formerly known as Posh Spice's stint with the fellow Brit takes this whimsy a few hundred steps further. The opening narrative becomes the bulk of the segment, and the fantasy becomes more far-fetched. Instead of just playing Corden's friend, Beckham becomes a mannequin, and this isn't karaoke in a moving vehicle, but a damn movie trailer. It's spectacular and it's perfect because it shows that the producers understand exactly what it is we watch it for. The singing's nice, of course. But the fantasy is what I'm tuning in for.
So here's hoping this raises the bar for the future episodes — now that I've seen how good it can be, there's no going back. And if Beckham does do a full Carpool Karaoke segment after this, how could it ever be as good?