The late pop icon and the Late Late Show star teamed up in 2011 for a Comedy Relief charity video that paved the way for Corden’s über-popular Carpool Karaoke franchise, and the late-night personality has nothing but fond memories of his time spent with Michael.
“I just felt incredibly lucky to be in his orbit for a moment,” Corden, 38, says of the music legend in the new issue of PEOPLE.
“There’s a George Michael song called ‘Praying for Time’ which was on an album that was released 25 years ago. If you listen to it now, it’s more pertinent today than it was then,” the comedian adds of the hopeful Listen Without Prejudice Vol. I track that peaked at No. 1.
Michael died of a heart failure at the age of 53 before he was found in his bed on Christmas Day. Less than two weeks later, Corden shared his memories of working with the superstar in an emotional segment on the Late Late Show.
“I feel like I’ve loved George Michael as long as I’ve loved music, and I know so many fans felt the same way,” Corden said at the time. “I can remember so many times in my life where I might have felt on my own, and George’s music would feel like he would reach his hand out and [say] you weren’t on your own.”
And while Corden shared a bond with Michael, he believes the Grammys are a time to honor all the trailblazing musicians the world lost last year.
Remember George Michael in PEOPLE’s commemorative edition, George Michael: A Pop Star Life, on sale now.
“Prince, Leonard Cohen, there were just so many incredible voices and minds [we lost last year],” adds Corden. “Mostly what you have to do in this time is try and find some gratitude that you were here and present and got to see them and listen to them.”
The Recording Academy has not yet revealed how late icons like Michael, Prince and Cohen will be honored at the Feb. 12 show. But the Grammys is known for paying tribute to impactful artists. Just last year, Lady Gaga impressed with a six-minute medley of hits in remembrance of David Bowie, who weeks before had succumbed to his battle with cancer.
For more from James Corden and this year’s Grammy nominees, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
The 59th Annual Grammy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.