One of many things that can be said about the global wide elephant in the room, social distancing, is that it has changed how day-to-day life functions throughout the entire world. Students from grade school to college are attending class online, suppliers have encountered major difficulties satisfying demand (i.e., the great toilet paper crisis of 2020), and Zoom’s online video conferencing software is now one of the key players in keeping us connected in a time when safety means staying apart. These are just a few of the many, many changes brought on by social distancing, but one that I definitely didn’t anticipate was the ease of access it has created to some of the world’s top musicians.
One instance in particular would be Global Citizen’s April 18th online and television broadcast of One World: Together at Home, featuring performances from a myriad of musicians from multiple genres with the purpose of raising money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The broadcast was helmed by a triad of talk show veterans: Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert, along with appearances by Amy Poehler, Matthew McConaughey, Oprah Winfrey and many others collaborating on the common theme of celebrating our healthcare, grocery, and delivery workers, and everyone else on the frontlines putting themselves at risk in order to keep the rest of us going.
The artists conferenced in from their individual homes, and performed a variety of originals and uplifting covers. Some of the two-hour broadcast’s lineup included (in no particular order):
- Elton John’s courage-inspiring “I’m Still Standing”
- John Legend and Sam Smith’s soothing “Stand By Me”
- Billie Eilish’s positivity-sparking “Sunny”
- Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello’s sweet and harmony filled “It’s A Wonderful World”
- Jennifer Lopez’s skillful performance of “People (Who Need People)”
- The Rolling Stone’s relatable “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But Sometimes You Get What You Need)”
- Keith Urban’s vibrant, energy-inducing “Higher Love” (creatively performed with three versions of himself playing simultaneously)
- Taylor Swift’s imploring “Soon You’ll Get Better”
- And a show-stopping, powerhouse performance of “The Prayer” by Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, John Legend, and expert pianist Lang Lang
With the COVID-19 pandemic pulling us further apart than we’ve ever been, both literally and metaphorically, music has become more important than ever as a form of human interaction. One World: Together at Home provided an opportunity for viewers and musicians alike to have something to unite around, something to come together over regardless of the distance currently between us all. This broadcast wasn’t the first instance of artists doing virtual performances during this strange time of social distancing, and I have a feeling that it won’t be the last. Everything is changing, but at the very least, the comforting power of music remains the same; and artists are bringing it to us in easier and more immediate ways.