Presumably in an attempt to capture some of the magic of last year’s performance of the Leonard Cohen classic by Kate McKinnon on SNL, Late Late Show host James Corden and guest Kristen Wiig recently tried their hand at a duet of “Hallelujah.” The solemn and reverent performance started out all right, until they hit the first chorus and it became abundantly clear that Wiig didn’t know how to properly pronounce “hallelujah.” Not wanting to embarrass his guest too much, Corden briefly stopped the song to inform Wiig of her error, only to have her belt out “Holly-how-ya” on the very next chorus.
As a comedic bit, it doesn’t seem like something that can sustain itself for an eight-minute segment. But Corden’s pitch-perfect performance as the increasingly frustrated host, combined with Wiig’s ability to invent countless absurd pronunciations, really makes the whole thing work. Also, seeing a row of pyrotechnics erupt as someone joyously belts out “Holy Luau” is pretty great.
Eventually, Corden realizes that his dream of spreading healing joy in the holiday season has been ruined as he decrees, “Forget the whole song and dance. It doesn’t matter, okay? I do not know who will bring about world peace right now but it won’t be us!” However, unwilling to give up on the dream, Wiig inspires her duet partner by reminding him what the season is really all about, i.e., not letting ISIS win. Finally, the two seem to get into synch, only to be joined by gospel choir harmonizing on the phrase “Hello Julia!” Though the performance maybe didn’t go exactly how Corden would have liked, watching him berate a choir of strangers is about as healing as it gets.