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George Michael inspired James Corden's Carpool Karaoke

Back in 2011, the singer and host rocked out in a car together, and their sheer joy sparked an idea that's now a popular video bit.

Fans continue to mourn singer George Michael, who died at just 53 on Christmas Day. The singer was well-known for his work with Wham! and his solo music, but even some of his biggest fans didn't know that Michael also was responsible for talk-show host James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" video concept, which produces a steady stream of viral hit videos.

Corden now hosts "The Late Late Show" on CBS (CBS is CNET's parent company), but in 2011, he participated in the charity telethon Comic Relief on the BBC.

As you can watch in the sketch below, Corden was riding around in a car with Michael, in a skit that has many of the elements "Carpool Karaoke" has today. (Corden's playing Smithy, his character from the award-winning British television comedy series "Gavin & Stacey," but you don't need to know that show to follow along.)

Michael and Corden get into a spat, but when Corden turns on the radio and Wham's 1986 hit "I'm Your Man" is playing, everything quickly turns a lot sunnier. Fist-pumping and air-rocking-out commence as the two joyfully belt out the tune.

In June of this year, Corden told Howard Stern that it was the singing bit with Michael that inspired him to build a series out of Carpool Karaoke, although the exact magic of why the segment works is unclear. "There's a joy in here," Corden told Stern. "We couldn't really work out why."

Maybe they didn't need to -- Carpool Karaoke has become a regular part of Corden's show, and the segment featuring Adele was the most-watched viral video of 2016 on YouTube, with 141 million views. (The Bruno Mars segment has topped 30 million, and the all-star Christmas video has 25 million.) The recurring sketch has even earned its own Apple Music series, though it will also continue as part of "The Late Late Show."

Corden has posted numerous tweets remembering Michael since the singer's death was announced.

Michael's manager said the singer died of heart failure.

(Via Mashable)