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‘One World: Together at Home’ lineup impresses and provides perfect playlist

| Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

Lady Gaga has done it again with her latest project, Global Citizen’s “One World: Together At Home” concert in partnership with the United Nations’ World Health Organization. Hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, this virtual music festival attracted a great lineup and created an even better playlist to continue quarantining to in the times of COVID-19.

Along with their introductions, Colbert announced that this concert had already raised more than $50 million. Gaga herself opened after the hosts announced themselves, asking everyone to “Smile” in her brightly lit office room backdrop. 

Next up, anchor Robin Roberts covered how teachers have been going above and beyond in this time of distance learning. Although, I don’t think they’re “earning any extra credit,” but just continuing to be everyday heroes. Hopefully, much more appreciation and respect has been directed towards their underrated profession in these months of quarantine.

Stevie Wonder made an appearance to pay tribute to his late friend Bill Withers with one of the lineup‘s best song selections: “Lean On Me.” Predictable, yes, but the show would have been lacking without the encouraging hit and ode to a soul legend.

Paul McCartney took the show global with his rendition of “Lady Madonna” on the electric piano.

Kacey Musgraves continued the piano performance trend with her beautiful ballad “Rainbow,” inspired by the rainbow signs she has seen displayed by those who are self-isolating.

Following appearances by Usher and Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, David and Victoria Beckham introduced Elton John, who played “I’m Still Standin’” with an upbeat tone on the piano.

To give a break to the serious performing, Jimmy Fallon got together with The Roots over Zoom to sing “Safety Dance,” featuring medical workers, doctors and nurses, making light in a very dark situation.

Actor Henry Golding then announced Maluma who sang “Carnaval.”

Chris Martin featured in an Instagram Live video, which began a trend of live-streamed performances, leading to “One World: Together At Home.” He sang Coldplay‘s early hit “Yellow.” With the tune gently filling the background, Ellen DeGeneres highlighted some outstanding individuals, including the principal of viral fame who has brought mobile dance parties to his students.

The Beauty2TheStreetz efforts and @LoveBeyondWalls were also introduced, along with Renata Alexis and her work at Covenant House, a youth organization in New York. Comedian Amy Poehler introduced Alexis.

Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes showed off their musical and romantic chemistry in their rendition of “What a Wonderful World.” Mendes played the piano while singing along with his girlfriend.

Beyonce then informed viewers of the especially strong effects of coronavirus on the African American community. 

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam played an intense version of “River Cross.”

LL Cool J came on to thank all of the workers on the front lines — doctors, nurses, grocery store cashiers, farmers and so many more. Following this tribute, Lizzo softly sang the Sam Cooke classic: “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Norah O’Donnell reported about the COVID-19 situation in South Korea and its positive progression.

Alicia Keys reinforced Beyonce’s announcement that African Americans are unduly and severely affected by COVID, more so than any other racial group.

The Rolling Stones came together over four different Zoom cameras to sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” standing out as one of the night‘s most impressive performances. The four remained synchronized despite being in very different places and each seemed to have a good time getting together.

Former first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama teamed up to express their gratitude to medical professionals, first responders and others. 

Lester Holt’s coverage joined reporting by Hoda Kotb of the Today Show in keeping up with the theme of journalistic updates throughout the benefit.

Keith Urban split into three screens to create a smooth harmonized “Higher Love” on three different guitars. Nicole Kidman soon joined him on one screen, and the couple thanked healthcare workers and front line responders.

Melinda and Bill Gates answered Colbert’s question of how long this will last, looking towards a vaccine.

Burna Boy represented Nigeria with “African Giant” and “Hallelujah.”

Oprah Winfrey praised healthcare workers for their efforts while calling on governments to step up and support them. She ended her appearance with a determined look at the camera, and said if this were to happen again in the future, “We will be ready.”

Jennifer Lopez sang “People” against a tree trunk shrouded in string lights.

Jimmy Kimmel then took advantage of a break to give pizza to a Door Dash worker who delivered him John and Vinny’s, before introducing Awkwafina, who encouraged viewers to call and keep in touch with our loved ones.

Italy’s struggle was put in the spotlight, with an emphasis on their unquenchable spirit amidst social distancing.

J Balvin came in to give some tips and steps on how to fight COVID-19. Then Spongebob advertised how each should wash their hands. Priyanka Chopra Jonas spoke on behalf of refugee camps that are also getting hit hard by the coronavirus.

Some of the final musical moments acted as definite highlights, including John Legend and Sam Smith’s duet of “Stand By Me” and Billy Joe Armstrong’s accoustic “When September Ends.”

Kerry Washington reminded viewers that each person can help by staying home and social distancing. She also acknowledged that we are all facing different feelings right now, which can affect our mental health.

Idris and Sabrina Elba shone a spotlight on a 102-year-old survivor of the Spanish Flu as well as COVID-19, as an example of how everyone deserves healthcare.

Matthew McConaughey reminded viewers that the virus does not discriminate.

Billie Eilish sang “Sunny” with brother Finneas supporting her on the electric piano, as always.

Pharrell Williams brought attention to school closures.

Taylor Swift’s vulnerable performance of “Soon You’ll Get Better” on her piano against a beautiful watercolor mural wall wrapped up the evening nicely. She said she didn’t know if she would ever perform this song live because of how emotional it is for her. 

Lupita Nyong’o shouted out the African continent, And Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street gave the world a final reminder to stay home.

The quartet of Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga and John Legend singing “The Prayer” with the help of Lang Lang’s piano mastery closed the show in the best way possible.

Overall, this coming together of entertainers provided quite the foil to the usual flashy, overwhelming stage acts that clutter typical awards shows. The benefit adapted well to the mood of the moment, showing what art and music can do in times of struggle.

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