What if that ‘Imagine’ video was nearly nine hours long and featured over a hundred celebrities?
Is it a global crisis until a group of celebrities come together and sing about it? Surely not. Thus today’s Global Citizen’s One World Together: Stay Home, a nearly nine-hour live stream – seven hours of pre-show followed by a two-hour Lady Gaga-curated main show – featuring well over a hundred celebrities talking, singing and skitting their way through an exploration of the global Covid-19 crisis.
Crucially, as Jameela Jamil explains to us at the start, this is not a fundraiser. The funds have already been raised, to the tune of $30 million. This livestream is solely to provide us shut-ins with hours of entertainment, and also a little bit of education! In between all the celebrities, there’s a lot of footage and interviews with scientists, doctors, essential workers, and people on the ground. It’s all very heartwarming.
But we’re not here to talk about those bits. We’re here to scrutinise the celebrities. People just like us, except richer and with inexplicably good sound equipment lying around their homes. Even though we all probably have the time to watch this right now, I’ve gone to the trouble, at great emotional cost, of picking out the highlights, lowlights, and wtf-lights from the marathon stream.
Enjoy! Stay at home, wash your hands, sing a song.
High: Hozier and Maren Morris performing ‘The Bones’
First thing: Why did nobody tell me that Hozier looked like the barista you dream about when you’re in high school? You know, the one who remembers your order, but not in that weird way where he pre-empts you as you start to speak, but with that knowing twinkle where he’s like, “Oh, yeah. I know you’re getting a half-strength flat white because you do that weird bouncy thing with your leg.” Nope, just me? Cool. Moving on.
Second thing: The house don’t fall when the bones are good, and the livestream don’t fail when you’ve got a song as good as ‘The Bones’.
Low: Sofi Tukker in the jungle
Some acts don’t thrive in these sorts of lo-fi livestream environments. Sofi Tukker, who is not one person, but two people named Sofi and Tukker, are one of those acts. Every second I spend looking at the screenshot brings up more unanswerable questions. Why this act? Why this song? Why… the jungle decoration? The apocalypse is in the post.
WTF: Adam Lambert’s plants
It’s a mad, mad, mad world of fake plants that cannot do anything good for your acoustics.
Low: Jack Black doing his thing
Jack Black chose to ditch his usual high energy schtick to deliver an uncharacteristically sedate, sombre tribute to our essential workers.
Just kidding! He did a two minute fitness routine that made me feel like I burned at least three hundred calories through exasperated sighing.
High: Jennifer Hudson singing ‘Memory’
Perhaps the only unambiguously good thing to come out of that film is that now Jennifer Hudson can trot out an A-grade version of this B-grade (sorry fans) song whenever she wants. Because look, can you name any other Jennifer Hudson song that isn’t from Dreamgirls?
WTF: Everything in Matthew McConaughey’s office
Why the pile of trucker caps on the left? Why the luchador masks? Why the neon light above them? Why the curiously old-school printer? Why any of this!
High: Brandon Flowers’ tucked velvet shirt
“Look at how tight that tuck is!” is something I expected to say about a drag queen, not Brandon Flowers as he sings a very good, stripped-back version of ‘Mr. Brightside.’
Low: Charlie Puth’s bed
Look, people writing from their unmade beds can’t throw stones, but I’m not livestreaming a song from Fast and Furious 7 from my bed. It takes 10 seconds, Charlie! If you can put on five necklaces, you can straighten your sheets.
High: Danai Gurira talking to the screen
I could listen to the Black Panther actress read one of those ancient artefacts known as ‘a phonebook’. She has a calming presence that I can only describe as Bloomfieldian.
Also, about halfway through, she changes into an orange sweater. We stan a costume change queen, is what I would say if I were deranged.
Low: Ben Platt’s shirt
Let’s put aside for a moment the lockdown beard that the musical theatre star is rocking and focus on his shirt. Not only does it not fit him at this current moment, it seems like it’s never fitted him at any stage in his life.
Also: What logo did they have to blur? What brand does Ben Platt not want to be associated with, or potentially more pertinently, what brand does not want to be associated with Ben Platt? He might be a bit Buttigiegian in The Politician, and he might seem like he could break into a Disney song without warning, but he’s not that offensive!
(Also, a head’s up: This is about two hours into the live stream. The door is off the hinges and flying around in the Kansas skyline, Dorothy.)
WTF: Delta Goodrem making sure we see all of her awards
“These old things? Never heard of ’em. Part of the furniture, like my poorly placed piano and my begrudging guitar player. Straya!”
High: Connie Britton speaking to us from The Other Side
If heaven is Connie Britton with either the sun or a massive ring light behind her, then I need some essential service angels to take me into the Great Beyond, stat.
High: Christine and the Queens singing ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’
Sometimes there are moments in these epic live concert things that people hang onto. Think of, say, Queen at Live Aid or, if you’re me, Madonna at Live Earth. Christine and the Queens’ epic, impassioned performance of ‘People, I’ve Been Sad’ ranks up there for me. (It’s at about 2 hours, 55 minutes in this particular video.)
Low: The cast of Contagion giving us Covid-19 advice
There’s a lot about this crisis and the celebrity response to it that feels like a 30 Rock sketch. Like actors from a (fictional) film about a global pandemic telling us how to respond to a real life one, which is akin to relying on Michael Galvin to do your open-heart surgery.
High: Sho Madjozi’s outfit
This is more colour than I’ve seen in three weeks. Joyous.
Low: Michael Buble singing ‘God Only Knows’
I know we’ve been inside a long time, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Christmas yet. Go back into your bubble, Bublé.
WTF: Rainn Wilson drops in to surprise fans of The Office
You know what would make me feel good about Covid-19? The fourth billed star of a sitcom that was cancelled a decade ago surprising me with a call to talk about mental health? Sure, why not! Also: He says ‘that’s what she said’, which I’m sure he owes Steve Carrell at least five dollars for using.
High (As Hell): Pierce Brosnan talking about shamanism
This is how I feel after watching this livestream for this amount of time. God bless you, Pierce Brosnan.
Outlanderly: Sam Heughan and his accent
“Thank you, Lady Gaga” – Sam Heughan and hopefully Jamie Fraser in an upcoming episode of Outlander.
Low (Angle): Billy Ray Cyrus’ camera
This is not unlike what my microwave meals see before I eat them.
WTF: Jessie J’s 300 minute version of ‘Bang Bang’
Jessie J treats her 2014 collab with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj like it’s an 11 minute jazz song, and it has to be seen to be believed. She plays air guitar, she asks for ad libs from us, she acts like a real-life Shreds video. You can watch it here, if you dare.
Low: Whatever the hell this interview set-up is
This is the broadcast equivalent of recording an interview on your laptop with your phone on speakerphone, after putting that phone in a cup to amplify it. Who decided this was a good way to present anything, visually?
WTF: Paul McCartney performing ‘Lady Madonna’
Ah, yes. Everybody’s favourite Beatles song, ‘Lady Madonna’. I hit pause on this video to get the rest of my bubble to come watch this one.
(OK, it’s appropriate for the situation and McCartney can do whatever he likes, but this is kind of a downer, you guys.)
Chaotic Neutral: Usher’s bookshelf
That is not how you arrange your books, Usher! I can’t even handle this right now.
High: Elton John, still standing while sitting
I’m sure people who bought tickets to see Elton in Kumeu will feel like this makes up for it! Hahahaha!
Also, I can’t help but think of the poor bastards who not only had to take one of Elton’s pianos outside, but who also had to, for some reason, set design his outdoor area to put these basketball hoops and balls just so.
Low: Jimmy Fallon and The Roots performing ‘Safety Dance’
How is it that, even in quarantine, Jimmy Fallon manages to look like he’s just rushed to work after a quick two pints at the bar over breakfast? Wonders never cease.
He also, in a move that infuriates me a lot personally, calls The Roots his ‘pal’, as if that group is one amorphous organism rather than an incredibly talented collective of musicians who are slumming it by performing for him on a daily basis.
High: Eddie Vedder performing ‘River Cross’
Seriously! I never thought I would consider ‘Eddie Vedder performing [insert anything]’ to be a highlight of anything, but here we go. Desperate times, Covid measures. You can watch his bit right here.
Sure, Why Not: The Rolling Stones performing ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
Pictured: The four oldest men in the world.
Also pictured: Charlie Watt, absolutely not giving any shits, and playing the air drums.
This just makes me worry for Marianne Faithfull, undeniably cooler than any of the people in the above picture, who actually has Covid-19. Thoughts, prayers and cigarettes for you, Marianne.
WTF: The Rolling Clones feat. Nicole Kidman
There’s only so much of Nicole Kidman to go around, fellas! Please think of how you use our non-renewable resources. This world isn’t just for you, it’s for your children and your grandchildren. This is a Nicole Kidman PSA.
High: Jennifer Lopez performing ‘People’
It takes a lot of guts for someone with Jennifer Lopez’s uh, specific pipes to tackle a Streisand song while wearing a jumper with Streisand on it. I firmly believe this is how Jennifer Lopez spends all her weekend evenings.
WTF: Billie Joe Armstrong in 2020, at all
I suppose this is what happens when a rock star slowly transitions into someone who needs to talk to the manager.
High: Kerry Washington’s bookcase
Thank you for your colour coded books, Kerry Washington. This is not a scandal (sorry).
Low (Volume): Billie Eilish
Hey, Billie! Big fan, but small tip: I find it helps when recording myself performing my B-sides to have the microphone in the same room as my mouth. Just a thought. Love, Sam.
No, You’re Crying: Taylor Swift Performing ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’
Taylor Swift singing a song about her mother recovering from cancer, accompanied only by a piano? Sung during a pandemic? After I’ve been watching something for more hours than I care to count? No, you’re crying from a mixture of emotion and exhaustion! Not me.
High: Lupita Nyong’o’s powerclashing
This is visual ASMR. I’m disassociating from my entire life – past, present and future – looking at this. Take me into your gentle patterns, Lupita.
Too Much: Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, Lady Gaga, Lang Lang performing ‘The Prayer’
Watch it for yourself, fam. It’s been real, y’all. See you around for the next global crisis concert. Hopefully next time it’s outside.