James Corden, star of the movie Cats, is not hosting his Late Late Show this week. Instead, he’s pulling the classic late-night move where a series of celebrities is filling in for him, possibly while he promotes his role in the movie Cats. Last night, once and future Grammy host Alicia Keys was the person in charge of the show. (Evidently, James Corden, who I must once again reiterate is in the movie Cats, isn’t jealous about Keys being a better Grammy host than he was.) And in her capacity as host, Keys had a nice little bonding session with 17-year-old pop phenom Billie Eilish.
Last week, Keys went on Instagram and covered “Ocean Eyes,” Billie Eilish’s debut single. It’s a dreamy ballad that Eilish posted online in 2015, when she was 14 years old. On last night’s show, Keys and Eilish sang the song together. Keys played piano, but otherwise, the two were unaccompanied. They sang while sitting close together, and they even showed a pretty similar vocal tone. It was nice. Watch it below.
Keys also interviewed Eilish. No Van Halen questions this time. Keys is a one-time pop phenom herself, and she won a lot of the Grammys that Eilish is nominated for this year. (When Keys was 20 — about three months before Eilish was born — she released her Grammy-juggernaut debut album Songs In A Minor.) The two artists, who have very similar speaking voices, gushed over each other, and Eilish showed a video of herself, at a talent show, performing Keys’ breakout single “Fallin'” when she was 12. The whole thing was cute. Here’s the video:
Do record companies mount Grammy campaigns, the same way that studios mount Oscar campaigns? If they do, then this whole appearance was probably part of Eilish’s Grammy campaign — a chance to show voters that she’s a serious old-school talent and not just a gimmicky goth-pop child. But that’s not a knock against it. I loved seeing Keys bring her blissed-out hippie-mom energy to this interaction. Eilish always seems uncomfortable with pop stardom, and Alicia Keys knew how to welcome her and make her feel at ease. That’s good to see. Today’s young pop stars need all the help they can get.