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James Corden and Jennifer Hudson Bring Some Soul to Your Favorite Public Domain Songs

Last night’s late night atmosphere was very musical. We saw Melissa McCarthy give an entertaining if imprecise lip sync performance on The Tonight Show, and then on The Late Late Show, James Corden was joined by former American Idol contestant, Oscar winner and long note holder Jennifer Hudson to put a new spin on some old classics. Specifically, old classics that the show doesn’t have to pay for. Also known as public domain songs. Get ready to be transported back to preschool, but with some added soul.

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James explains that there are a lot of well-known songs he would love to sing on the show, but CBS doesn’t love spending money on the rights to those songs. So he gave the network’s wallet a break by performing free titles. As it turns out, those songs tend to be the type of stuff you sang in the bathtub as a 4-year-old. But when they’re performed by James and Jennifer, they take on a whole new life you never could have imagined. Who knew “Skip to My Lou” could sound so heartrending? And in this version, Old McDonald sounds pretty badass. Just because he’s a farmer doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to party, you know.

After a nerve-racking moment wherein Jennifer comes this close to singing “Let It Go” from Frozen (which, according to James, is very expensive), they move on to everyone’s favorite song about joyful clapping, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” We all know that Jennifer is knock-your-socks off good, but this video is a good reminder that James can totally hold his own up there with her. Eventually I think his carpool karaoke partners will stop looking so shocked when he sings. He’s really good, you guys. Can we all universally acknowledge that?

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