Some of the biggest names in music answered Lady Gaga‘s rallying cry on Saturday to raise their voices for One World: Together at Home. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, the two hour special aired across all the major networks and streaming services.
While the event did benefit the World Health Organization, Colbert sternly told viewers not to touch their wallets because the goal of the night was to entertain and bring some much-needed comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, Gaga’s team solicited donations from philanthropists and businesses before the special aired. It was announced on Sunday that her efforts raised over $127 million to benefit the World Health Organization, who will use that money to support healthcare workers across the country as they fight this pandemic.
Gaga opened for the two-hour special by shouting out healthcare workers as she sat at her piano. “I care so much about all of the medical workers that are putting their lives at risk for us right now. I think of them every day. I pray for them every day,” she said. “I’m also thinking of all of you that are at home who are wondering when this is all going to be different.”
Before her soulful rendition of Natalie Cole‘s “Smile,” she sweetly let everyone watching at home know that they have her permission ” to, for a moment, smile.”
Gaga returned to close out the special, joining John Legend and pianist Lang Lang to perform “The Prayer” with the legendary Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. The four voices blended beautifully and swelled with hope.
Other standout performances came from Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Keith Urban and Elton John.
For Swift, she chose to perform the one song she thought she’d never be able to sing live, “Soon You’ll Get Better.” While the 30-year-old penned the track about her mother’s cancer battle, the song has adopted a new meaning in the face of COVID-19 and, as many agreed, was the perfect choice for the night. Although, as Taylor grappled with her emotions while singing the emotional track, reaction online showed that her performance was the night’s biggest tear-jerker.
As for Lopez, the singer called for unity before showing off a different side of her vocal talents by delivering an astounding rendition of “People” from the musical Funny Girl. “There’s one thing that I’ve realized more than anything during this whole time,” said Lopez. “It’s how much we all need each other,” she opened before belting out soaring notes that many have compared to Barbra Streisand.
The Rolling Stones played a version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The video featured a split screen showing band members Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood performing the tune in separate locations. Humorously, Watts played air drums on some boxes and a chair, so a drum track must have been added to the mix.
McCartney played a slowed-down rendition of his classic Beatles song “Lady Madonna” on piano. Before his performance, Sir Paul noted, “My mother, Mary, was a nurse and a midwife just after and during the Second World War, so I have a lot of time for the doctors, the nurses, and all the medical staff that keep us healthy. We love you. Thank you.”
Sir Elton also shouted out front line workers before diving into an uplifting rendition of “I’m Still Standing.” The 73-year-old even had his grand piano wheeled outside for his energetic performance.
As for Keith Urban, he employed some special effects for his slot and turned himself into a three-man band while singing “Higher Love.” Urban superimposed two other versions of himself playing different instruments to deliver a full concert-worthy performance. He closed out by saluting all front line workers before his wife Nicole Kidman walked in for a brief cameo.
Among the many other artists who performed during the special were Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Stevie Wonder and Sam Smith.
There were some surprise guests as well, such as former first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush who warmly commended the WHO’s efforts during the global pandemic. The two also expressed their heartfelt gratitude to all medical responders, from veterinarians to surgeons, saying “You’re the fabric of our country and your strength will carry us through this crisis.”
The complete One World: Together at Home concert has since been uploaded in its entirety to Global Citizen’s YouTube. However, for those wanting to simply watch their favorite artist, individual performances have been uploaded, as well.
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