Among all of the upsetting cancellations during this time of pandemic is concerts and tours being cancelled or postponed. Many music lovers are devastated that they cannot see their favorite performers live in a concert setting, but many artists and bands have been able to lift their fans’ spirits from the comfort of their own homes.
Last Sunday night, 3/29, Fox aired The iHeartRadio Living Room Concert for America, named appropriately for the performers who were performing at their home pianos or from lounging on their sofa. The hour-long event was hosted by Sir Elton John and featured artists from a variety of genres and eras, including the Backstreet Boys, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, and Billie Eilish.
The televised event aired without commercials, but instead took breaks to encourage viewers to donate to the 1st Responders Children’s Foundation, which “provides financial support to both children who have lost a parent in the line of duty as well as families enduring significant financial hardships due to tragic circumstances.” These breaks included stories of people on the front lines of the crisis, like hospital and grocery store workers, and even the viral video of a Surgeon singing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Along with the breaks encouraging viewers to donate to the 1st Responders Children’s Foundation, performers used their music to invoke emotion for the cause. Dave Grohl performed Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” in honor of the heroes on the front lines of the crisis, and Demi Lovato sang her song “Skyscraper” with photographs of empty city streets alongside her.
Of course, in the age of social media, there are plenty of ways to see performances other than television. For example, former member of One Direction Niall Horan’s new album Heartbreak Weather was released on March 13th, right when the coronavirus pandemic became a serious concern across Europe and in the United States. While he missed out on being able to perform on stages in front of crowds to promote the album, he used Instagram livestreams to perform his new songs acoustically from his home, performances he titled #togetherathome. Niall was clearly able to effectively promote his album from home, as it reached #1 on the UK billboard charts.
Why was Niall Horan’s at-home album release so effective, and how did iHeart’s televised concert draw 9 million viewers and raise $1 million for the 1st Responders Children’s Foundation? These at-home concerts are exactly what the world needs right now.
Social distancing and quarantining seems to be getting more mentally draining every day. Along with boredom comes a major fear-of-missing-out, as the whole world can’t help but think about all the places they could be instead of their homes. These concerts showing some of the biggest names in the world stuck at their homes, though they may be living luxuriously, reminds their fans that even their big, important lives have been put on hold.
As a music lover, I know that nothing can compare to the experience of seeing one’s favorite artists live in concert, whether it’s from the nosebleed seats of a stadium or in an intimate theater. However, these musical performances offer a rare opportunity for music lovers to see their favorite artists’ raw talent without any enhancements or flashy production effects like there would be at a concert or even from watching a recorded performance. This is especially rare for big-name artists that typically have flashy performances; when else could the world get to see Elton John perform a song on his young sons’ keyboard while quarantined in a house without a piano?
Finally, this pandemic is unprecedented, and instills feelings many people have not felt before. Listening to music is an effective way of confronting emotions, and many artists have directed their performances towards the current crisis. For example, during a The Late Late Show with James Corden primetime special called Homefest, the cast of the hit broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” performed “You Will Be Found,” a song about finding hope in a time that feels hopeless. Of course, the cast did not perform this song in concert on a large stage, but instead each recorded themselves singing from their homes to be compiled into a screen that looked like a zoom session, making the message of the song intimate and personal.
So, if you get tired of binge-watching Netflix and need something to lift your spirits, spend some of your excessive free time finding a moment of peace to watch your favorite artists perform in a setting you may have never seen them in before.