Got plans Saturday night? Of course not! None of us do. We’re all just dressed up with nowhere to go. With trips to bars and restaurants, sporting events, movie theaters, and live concerts all suspended due to the COVID-19 lockdown gripping the globe, we have plenty of time to reminisce about the last time we saw a buzzer-beating jump shot or heard a guitar shred among throngs of sweaty fans.
Still, for weeks now, musicians – from big name acts like John Legend and Coldplay’s Chris Martin to indie artists like Josh Ritter – have been staging impromptu quarantine concerts, through daily songs or full sets on social media. Professionally coordinated broadcast specials like At Home with Farm Aid, ACM Presents: Our Country and the Elton John-hosted (and clunky-titled) Fox Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America have also sought to raise money and spirits.
Curated by Lady Gaga, the latest large-scale social distancing event, One World: Together At Home, brings together a dazzling array of artists, actors and comedians for a two-hour live and commercial-free concert premiering Saturday, April 18 at 8 pm ET. The special will air on all the major American television networks and social media platforms (both Orange and Blue Sling subscribers can tune in to watch on AXS TV).
In what could be this generation’s Live Aid, the event – spearheaded by advocacy group Global Citizen in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) – aims to support the U.N. Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Just as importantly, it should serve as a rallying cry for health care workers through first-person stories highlighting the challenges of fighting the coronavirus pandemic on the front lines.
Hosted by the faces of late-night, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, the once-in-a-lifetime virtual gathering will feature appearances by Paul McCartney, Lizzo, Elton John, Keith Urban, Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Oprah Winfrey, Matthew McConaughey, Eddie Vedder, Taylor Swift and many, many more.
In spite of the terrifying reason for this epic display of good will-induced collaboration, we’re anxious (the good kind) to connect and heal with each other through the power of music and live TV. Here are seven things we’re looking forward to from One World: Together At Home:
1. Watching a global event in real time with practically everyone
In 1998, 76.3 million U.S. homes watched the finale of Seinfeld on NBC. Thanks to our fractured viewing habits and reliance on DVRs, it’s hard to remember a time when your household gathered around the TV together at a specific time, along with all your friends and their families and roommates and significant others. We’re not saying this event will rack up those almost impossible-to-beat numbers, but it brings us great comfort to think of the separated families and loved ones uniting during this two-hour window regardless of time zone. Plus, live Tweeting ushered in a new era of live TV watching – bring on the commentary and the memes!
2. Seeing the “real” version of our favorite celebrities
Let’s be honest: there’s a voyeuristic pleasure to scoping out the home décor visible behind the artists as they perform under various cities’ shelter-in-place decrees. Often, stocked bookshelves or framed photographs appear in the periphery, turning the affair into a game of “I Spy.” These at-home, live streamed performances also offer a chance to see musicians at their most authentic. Many aren’t living with stylists or camera operators, so we see them fumble with technology and dressed down in their Saturday afternoon best. Turns out that despite their fancier digs, famous folks are really just like us during the pandemic – stuck inside.
3. Best concert lineup ever?
Elton John. Taylor Swift. Celine Dion. Keith Urban. John Legend. Lady Gaga. Lizzo. Stevie Wonder. Usher. You’d be hard pressed to find all these names on one festival poster. Maybe if you were lucky, about four of these artists would tour your city in one full year. We get to see them all Saturday night. Without the traveling and scheduling obstacles that would normally make securing a lineup of this caliber a giant headache, viewers can reap the benefits.
4. A “We Are The World”-type sing-along
Office star and director John Krasinski got the entire original Broadway cast of Hamilton together (virtually, of course) to sing a song from the uber successful musical to a young fan through the wonder of Zoom for his Some Good News DIY web show. And it sounded amazing! If Krasinski can pull something like that off without a hitch from home, it isn’t too much to ask this grouping of stars to join forces on a big finale.
Is anyone not happy when in the presence of the Muppets from Sesame Street? We’re in desperate need of a little inner sunshine, something Grover and the gang emit without even trying.
6. Will anyone debut a new song?
While a hit song that everyone knows the words to is the musical version of comfort food, we’d love to hear something new that tries to make sense of these times. Dave Matthews introduced us to the wistful “Windows” during his At Home With Farm Aid appearance and it will remain a marker of life in lockdown.
7. Surprise guests
We didn’t expect Woody Harrelson to show up to sing a ditty with Paul Simon and Edie Brickell during the Elton John Fox special, but the actor is a neighbor of the couple (and secretly possesses a soothing singing voice). When New York band Lucius hosted a three-hour Instagram concert, Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen appeared suddenly outside wearing sunglasses and a mask to accompany Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig on tambourine through a window. What we're getting at is: Does anyone know who John Legend’s neighbors are?
One World: Together At Home airs Saturday, April 18 at 8 pm ET on AXS TV, NBC, Freeform, NatGeo, Bravo, E!, MSNBC, USA, Syfy and ABC News Live.