Niall Horan made his final visit to the Late Late Show count on Thursday night (Feb. 16), crooning his new single, reminiscing about the time Katy Perry helped launch him into stardom and getting emotional about host and longtime friend James Corden winding down his midnight run.
Sharing the couch with Perry’s partner, actor Orlando Boom, Horan talked about how the “Teenage Dream” singer basically made his career happen in 2010 when she took a chance on his potential on X Factor. Corden rolled the tape of the moment when Perry told a blonde mop-topped, pimply-faced Niall that he needed more experience. “And by the way, just because you’re likable… likeableness isn’t going to sell records,” Perry said in 2010 as some in the audience howled.
“It’s talent and you have… a seed of it,” Perry added. “Of course, you’re in,” she said as Horan pumped his fists and shouted for joy. In a box at the bottom corner of the screen, present day Niall watched and smiled as the pivotal moment unfolded, clapping as Bloom freaked out.
“That is fantastic!” Bloom marveled. “Is that the moment that really changed your whole thing?” he asked Horan, who admitted that before Perry threw him a bone his audition was going “very south… Katy just kept me in the competition. If it wasn’t for her I definitely would not be here and she knows it.”
In addition to talking about shooting the upcoming season of The Voice with fellow newbie judge Chance the Rapper and returning chair-swivelers Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson, Horan performed a sweet acoustic take of his new single “Heaven.” After strumming a single chorus, Horan added another at Corden’s urging as the host looked on rapt with what can only be described as a moist-eyed, proud papa look on his face watching the 29-year-old singer who has been a frequent guest and become a close pal.
“That was so good, so good,” Corden whispered into Horan’s ear as he gave the former One Direction singer a warm, loving embrace. Bloom, meanwhile, snatched up Niall’s guitar pick and slipped it into his jacket pocket, promising to put it in a special place next to another one he owns from Prince.
“This is show 1,167… you have been, when you were in the band and now as a solo artist… the times that we’ve spent with you here, you are such a part of the family,” Corden said as he held Horan’s hand. The feeling was mutual, with Horan thanking Corden for hosting him so many times and becoming part of his off-screen life as well. Getting emotional, Horan talked about his long relationship with Corden and Late Late Show co-executive producer Ben Winston, saying he lost two friends when the pair moved to the U.S. to work on the show that will wind down later this year.
“Dude, you boys changed pop culture forever and you’re two very close friends of mine and I love you both,” he said as Corden cut to commercial while wiping away tears.
Check out Horan on The Late Late Show below.