When One World: Together at Home kicked off Saturday (April 18) evening on a wide variety of channels and streaming services, the Lady Gaga-curated event had already raised more than $50 million to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
As with previously charitable fundraisers aiming to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on our endangered global population, a variety of musicians, actors and comedians joined the event via live stream to reassure, plead and entertain.
From Beyonce’s dose of reality to Shawn and Camila’s at-home duet, here are our 10 favorite moments from Global Citizen and World Health Organization’s One World: Together at Home concert.
Lady Gaga, who curated the Saturday lineup, poured her seemingly effortless full-throated vocals into the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile” to open the two-hour special, which clipped by at a speedy pace. Seated at the piano while digging deep into her guts to emote the song, Gaga was in her element – which is to say, it was basically perfect.
Paul McCartney Makes a Statement
Before performing the Beatles’ “Lady Madonna” alongside footage of healthcare workers, Macca made a general but pointed political plea: “Let’s tell our leaders we need to strengthen the health care system around the world so that a crisis like this never happens again.” He didn’t name names, but we all know who falls into that target audience.
Beyonce Gets Real
For a night that stayed mostly apolitical, Queen Bey brought some tough realism to the broadcast: “Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home,” she said. “African American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis. Those with pre-existing conditions are at an even higher risk. This virus is killing black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America.” Her speech was a much-needed reminder that what we’re facing right now isn’t a familiar threat but a global pandemic that is crippling vulnerable communities at an alarming rate.
Lizzo Belts A Classic
Lizzo’s performances tend to be highlights of whatever awards show she graces with her presence, but for One World, she kept it to the basics, eschewing production values and high concept. And damn, she stole the show even without a flurry of dancers and props. Belting out Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” with a pained gusto, she demonstrated precisely why we’re so lucky she’s walking among us.
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) April 19, 2020
Shawn & Camila Get Cozy
“What a Wonderful World” is one of those songs that seems cheesy when you think of it offhand but becomes impossibly affecting when you’re forced to sit down and actually listen to it. When Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello sat down, side by side, at a piano to perform the song Louis Armstrong elevated to iconic levels, their gorgeously blended vocals turned what could have seemed saccharine into something sublime. Mendes in quarantine might need a haircut, but his voice has never sounded stronger.
Stones Give Fans What They Need
Performing separately from their homes, The Rolling Stones turned out the Let It Bleed classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” 2019 heart surgery be damned, Mick Jagger’s vocals were strong and loose as ever. Keith Richards overflowed with his ineffable charm, Ronnie Wood was all smiles, and Charlie Watts – despite being bereft of an at-home drumkit – air-drummed along to the ode to accepting the hand that’s dealt to you. As always, the Stones exuded an enthusiasm for life performers half their age can only dream to attain.
J.Lo Is a Funny Girl
Seated at a backyard tree lined with glowing white lights, Jennifer Lopez flexed her pipes with a take on the Funny Girl classic “People.” Barbra Streisand is one of the greatest vocalists walking among us, so taking on a song associated with her took guts – and J.Lo’s ability to sing it to the gods while maintaining a requisite humility was impressive.
Taylor Breaks Our Hearts
Pulling out “Soon You’ll Get Better,” a song she wrote about her mother’s battle with cancer, during One World, Taylor Swift effectively ripped our hearts out and reminded us of the power of music to both reflect and ease our pain. It was a tough, lovely and cathartic moment.
Keith Urban Does the Math
Multiple Keith Urbans appeared onstage via movie magic to perform the enduring Steve Winwood jam “Higher Love.” The energetic enthusiasm of Keith Urban x 3 gave the entire show a jolt of carefree levity.
A Stunner Closer
Andrea Bocelli stunned international audiences with his Easter Sunday live stream, and to close out One World: Together at Home, the operatic tenor teamed with Celine Dion, John Legend, Lang Lang and Lady Gaga to perform his 1999 Celine collab “The Prayer.” On paper, this team-up could be a bizarre curio, but in practice (even in quarantine), it was easily the most organic, gorgeous live-streamed collab we’ve seen during these times.