James Corden is officially leaving The Late Late Show, Hollywood, and American stardom behind. The talk show host, former British national treasure (back when he was reliable ol’ Smithy from Gavin and Stacey), and somewhat questionable musical performer is hanging up his prime TV spot and heading back to the UK.
And who did he choose to send him off? None other than present day superstar and overall sweetheart, Adele. The pair filmed one final version of Corden’s flagship segment Carpool Karaoke and during the process, both celebrities revealed some details about their struggles and seemingly intimate and close friendship.
The 21-minute video kicked off with Adele sneaking into Corden’s bedroom and waking him up with a seriously impressive pair of cymbals. The duo then got into a car and began making their way to the filming studio.
Naturally, the video contained a lot of the classic Carpool Karaoke bits and bobs, lots of singing of Adele’s classic hits and some general chit-chat and banter. But what made this particular episode so interesting, is the fact that Adele and Corden chose to open up about some very personal moments between the two. In fact, their friendship was so palpable and heartwarming it even got me rethinking my opinions on the comedian. That’s the power of Adele.
At one point, the Grammy-awarded artist recalled a story in which herself and Corden shared a six-hour long conversation as they travelled home from a holiday together with their families. The ‘Someone Like You’ singer shared how Corden and his wife Julia played an integral role in helping look after her and her son Angelo.
Moreover, after hearing how Corden himself was also struggling in his life, Adele wrote the first verse of ‘I Drink Wine’ in tribute to him. The TV host got quite emotional as he noted: “I was floored by how you’d managed to take everything that I was feeling about myself and life and just put it in a verse. It was the greatest privilege from a conversation so honest between two friends. That you could create such a thing, it just blows my mind.”
To refresh all of our memories, the first verse of Adele’s hit ‘I Drink Wine’ goes: “How can one become so bounded by choices that somebody else makes? How come we’ve both become a version of a person we don’t even like?”
The duo both got incredibly sentimental during the car journey. In an interview with Variety, Corden explained: “What you’re actually watching is two friends who moved to Los Angeles, I think a week apart. And one of them is going home and one of them is staying. That’s hugely emotional. It just so happens that one of them is the biggest singer in the world.”
The pop industry has always been an incredibly perilous place for women over the age of 40. If a woman in the spotlight embraces her natural wrinkles, curves and creases, she’s deemed lazy, unfit and unappreciative of the platform bestowed upon her. If a woman pursues cosmetic surgery in an attempt to appear more youthful, she’s considered vapid, grossly fake and far too concerned with her own looks.
It’s these strict societal expectations that saw Madonna be completely torn apart after her recent appearance during the 2023 Grammy awards. The entertainment icon had been asked to introduce a performance by non-binary musician Sam Smith and transgender singer Kim Petras at the event—the pair had earlier won an award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song ‘Unholy’.
After images of Madonna at the event had been shared on social media, users began to bombard the singer with vitriol, pedalling horrendous comments online riddled with ageism and misogyny.
One user stated, “What happened to Madonna? She’s almost become unrecognisable.” Another netizen shared, “I’m worried for her mental health,” and one individual even went as far as to say: “Freakish…and definitely not ‘Like a Virgin’.”
Following this, the 64-year-old singer shared a statement on her social media: “Instead of focusing on what I said in my speech which was about giving thanks for the fearlessness of artists like Sam and Kim, many people chose to only talk about close-up photos of me taken with a long lens camera by a press photographer that would distort anyone’s face!!”
The artist continued: “Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in. A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 and feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strong willed, hard-working and adventurous.”
Now, Madonna is no saint. She’s a package deal that includes her very own set of controversies. For example, some fans had an issue with her alleged ‘coming out’ TikTok back in October 2022—seemingly a number of netizens smelt a whiff of queerbaiting and felt as though the video was inauthentic.
Whether or not this was the case, historically Madonna has always been one for breaking protocol and has never hidden away from embracing her sexual prowess or power out of fear of being labelled uncouth or unladylike. In fact, if anything, she’s ran towards controversy and has helped a number of other female and femme musicians incorporate sex and gender fluidity into their identities.
The conversation here isn’t solely about the criticism surrounding Madonna’s current appearance, or even about the way in which she conducts herself in public. It’s about how older women within the music industry are treated—especially those who aren’t willing to compromise on their own originality.
First of all, it should be noted that all women within the industry are considered fair play in the public court of opinion. What they wear, how much they weigh, if they’ve used cosmetic surgery or not—it’s all up for debate as far as society is concerned.
But there’s a particular venom when it comes to the criticism that surrounds older women. As noted by Refinery29: “Why do we champion aged male rock stars while completely forgetting female musicians? It’s almost too easy to pretend that this kind of sexism doesn’t exist anymore, since so many female artists are outspoken about their sexuality and their feminist beliefs.”
And it’s true. I mean, Steven Tyler is still considered a sex symbol and he’s 74 years old. And don’t even get me started on America’s passion-fuelled obsession with 73-year-old Bruce Springsteen.
When male musicians produce music late into their 60s and 70s, we get behind them—both culturally and financially. But when women do the same, not only is their attempt at continuing their craft questioned and criticised, but their music is received flatly by both the consumer and the industry. There are a few names who continue to dominate regardless of age, Cher being one.
However, even the queen of pop herself has faced massive interest regarding her choice to have cosmetic surgery on her face. Now, in Cher’s case, commentary has been slightly different compared to Madonna.
Naturally, because when society decides your plastic surgery meets its very specific criteria, the change is welcomed and celebrated. It’s when an older woman’s face shifts away from what’s considered to be traditional beauty standards that the hate begins to topple over.