As America grapples with the rising COVID-19 pandemic, Elton John teamed up with an array of artists on Sunday night to “lift your spirits” for the first ever iHeart Living Room Concert For America that aired on Fox.
The concert not only served as means to comfort those worried about the outbreak, but it also helped raise money for two critical charities: First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America. It was later revealed by comedian Ken Jeong that Fox was matching donations.
“We hope this bit of entertainment can feed and fuel your soul,” said Sir Elton, who also comedically revealed that he was quarantined in his only house that doesn’t have a piano.
Thankfully, no piano was required for his hosting duties: The performances fell to the artists who lent their vocal talents to entertain America from their homes. However, at the end of the concert, he did manage to get his hands on a keyboard so he could close with a special performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
First up was Alicia Keys, who opened with an encouraging, “my hope is that we remember how resident we are and how we defy the odds” as she delicately played her piano. She then dedicated her performance of “Underdog” to the “first responders and medical professionals that are risking their lives to keep us safe.”
Following Alicia, the Backstreet Boys took the living room stage with Brian Littrell greeting fans from the comfort and safety of his house. He joked that he and his band was “bringing our living room to yours” before shouting out frontline responders who are “putting themselves in harm’s way” to keep the globe safe.
The gang sang “I Want It That Way” and even broke out some lighthearted dance moves to elicit some much-needed smiles. Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter even got their kids involved, from playing instruments to dancing around the backyard.
Up next was Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters who dedicated his performance of “My Hero” to all those on the front lines.
Billie Eilish and Finneas followed Grohl with an acoustic rendition of “bad guy” from their couch. Billie revealed she wanted “to be some sort of comfort in this crazy time” before urging “Let’s stay strong together.”
Up next was Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello who flirted a bit before introducing the song “My Oh My” with Camila on vocals and Shawn on guitar. More adorable than the lovebirds was their dog in the background who excitedly tried to steal the spotlight in the beginning.
Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, who took over for Cabello and Mendes, also showed off his canine companion as he sang “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”
While Lady Gaga didn’t perform, she reached out to fans with an empathetic, “I know what’s going on in the world is terrifying” and that “my heart goes out to people who lost loved ones.” She used her time to touch upon mental health, encouraging those to communicate with friends and family to combat the feeling of isolation and anxiety. She concluded, “Be kind to yourselves.”
Lizzo and Elton also discussed mental health and the negative emotions COVID-19 is stoking. As the friends live chatted on Zoom, Lizzo brought up that “it’s important to remember that music brings people together” and praised everyone involved for coming together during such an uncertain time. “We cannot let this tear us apart,” she said in closing. “We can’t let the fear spread faster than the virus.”
Following such a serious discussion, Tim McGraw took the stage next to perform a lighthearted “Something like That” while sitting on his diving board as his band played live from their respective houses. His spot ended with him thanking his daughter Maggie for holding the camera and sweetly blew her a kiss.
Demi Lovato took the majority of her slot to urge those viewing to donate and “do what you can to lift [people] up.” She closed with a brief piano rendition of “Skyscraper.”
Last up was Mariah Carey who put her heart into “Always Be My Baby” and made sure to prove she is the queen of the whistle register by spending the last moments of the song hitting a series of high notes. She concluded with an adorable anecdote that after she leaves the studio, she’s going to put her gloves back on “even in my own home.”
Other performers helping to spread positivity were H.E.R. and Sam Smith.
Thanking first responders was a unifying theme during Sunday night’s concert. The show offered numerous first-hand accounts from EMTs, doctors and nurses about how they’re battling against the pandemic. One nurse, named Melissa, who is working at a COVID-19 ICU at her hospital tearfully revealed that she feels like she’s “working in a war zone.”
Talk show host Ellen Degeneres also shouted out essential workers, namely those who work at grocery stores, making sure people are still able to eat by keeping the shelves stocked.
As the concert wrapped up, Sir Elton urged the audience to continue giving to First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America before thanking everyone for coming together to promote positivity.
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