When James Corden and The Late Late Show scheduled Michelle Obama’s pre-taped “Carpool Karaoke” appearance to run in the middle of the Republican National Convention, they had no idea she would be at the center of the week’s biggest news story. Then Melania Trump straight-up ripped off the first lady’s 2008 DNC speech.
Unfortunately for viewers, but surely to Michelle Obama’s delight, the big segment was filmed weeks before the latest controversy so she was not forced to address the blatant plagiarism, or even throw some subtle shade at the Slovenian supermodel who wants to replace her in the White House.
Instead, those who needed a respite after three nights of Clinton-bashing at the RNC were treated to some pure, unadulterated joy in the form of Corden and Obama singing one of her favorite songs, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” and nailing the dance moves to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” while doing laps around the White House grounds.
The first lady may not have the pipes of previous guests Adele and Sia, but on a list that also includes Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey, she is arguably the biggest celebrity who Corden has gotten the chance to chauffeur about, chatting one-on-one without an entourage—or in Obama’s case, Secret Service.
The intimacy of their time together recalls the ride that President Barack Obama took with Jerry Seinfeld late last year on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In each case, the Obamas appeared more candid than they have been in more traditional interviews, having genuine conversations with their hosts instead of giving carefully-crafted answers to politically treacherous questions. As the first lady told Corden, this was only the second time during 7 seven and a half years in the White House that she could remember sitting in the passenger seat of a car, “listening to music, rocking out like this.”
Like all of Michelle Obama’s unconventional television and viral video appearances, this one had a cause. Corden gave the first lady a chance to not only discuss her Let Girls Learn initiative, but also to duet with him on the song that Diane Warren wrote to promote it. Called “This Is for My Girls,” the original version features Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, and Missy Elliott, who popped up out of nowhere in the backseat to deliver her rap verse.
“We got our girl power squad,” Michelle Obama said before getting Missy Elliott to break out her undeniable hit “Get Ur Freak On.” And yes, the first lady knew every single word.