Broadcast on television and radio in 180-plus countries, and streamed globally across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Global Citizen’s “Global Goal: Unite for Our Future” — presented in two parts Saturday, as “The Summit” and “The Concert” — presented a plethora of musical performances while trumpeting $6.9 billion in funds raised leading up to the specials. The money was raised from governments, private sector entrepreneurs and foundations for funds dedicated to causes fighting racial, sexual and social injustice and the still-deadly coronavirus.
Hosted by a stoic Dwayne Johnson, “The Concert” featured performances from Usher, Miley Cyrus, Chloe x Halle, Christine and the Queens, Coldplay, J Balvin, Jennifer Hudson, Shakira, Yemi Alade and the pairing of Justin Bieber and Quavo. Lin-Manuel Miranda and members of the original “Hamilton” cast joined forces with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, while J’Nai Bridges performed with Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles). Sandwiched between the performance clips were appearances from Billy Porter, Charlize Theron, David Beckham, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Jackman, Ken Jeong, Kerry Washington, Naomi Campbell, Olivia Colman, Salma Hayek Pinault and more.
The “Summit” portion of “Global Goal” mixed entertainment and hard policy with which to outline social justice initiatives in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, along with a new Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator plan for developing and equitably allocating tests, treatments and vaccines to the people who need them. The globally broadcast performances of “The Concert” were more often than not socially distanced and recorded live showcases, with a breadth of live vision that was often breathtaking in scope and inventively staged and filmed.
After announcing that the “power of unity creates change,” Jennifer Hudson performed a spare and rousing take on Gladys Knight and the Pips’ classic “Where Peaceful Waters Flow,” while on a slow-moving boat on the Chicago River. With a guitarist and a percussionist behind her, Hudson — resplendent in a flowing, dolmen-sleeved, goddess gown that blew with the gentle breeze — started off a soft, low rasp, then opened up her full G#2-C6-A6 vocal range on the “take my hand, come walk with me awhile” chorus, all in seeming time to the river’s flow.
Miley Cyrus also wore something flowy, a one-shoulder, asymmetrical dress with a mermaid vibe, that swayed in the Pasadena breeze as she stood alone on the field of the Rose Bowl singing the Beatles’ “Help!” while standing on that title’s exclamation point, at the end of a giant succession of letters spelling out the song’s name that were spread across the field. To a twangy backing track with a country-ish lilt, Cyrus used her patented low growl, making a point that everyone needs aid, sometimes.
Starting off in close-up, bathed in the crimson hue of a deep red filter, Usher debuted his new, winnowing ballad, “I Cry.” As the camera pulled back and away from Usher’s face and his warble became pronounced and dramatic, we saw protesters carrying Black Lives Matters signs beside him also bathed in red, earthen tones.
Following in the footsteps of their “Tonight Show” bit where they use homemade instruments and toys for delightful cover versions with special guests, Fallon and the Roots did the same with the “Hamilton” principals on a clanging, mid-tempo take on “Helpless.” Cast member Philippa Soo took most of the lead with the rest of the cast harmonizing around her (save for Daveed Diggs, who played what looks like a glass of scotch with ice and a spoon for tinkling punctuation), at least until Lin-Manuel Miranda — wearing a Roots T-shirt — did his rap dedicated to being a man with a brain and an educated plan.
The simple and soulful “Intentions,” performed by Justin Bieber with guest rapper Quavo, was filmed in black and white in a socially distanced setting in a recording studio in Los Angeles. With its cap-wearing singer pensively at the piano, the repetitive ballad from the Biebs’ most recent album, “Changes,” seemed to stop time during the line “heart full of equity,” seemingly to take into effect the show’s quest for racial, sexual and social equality.
Live and alone from Paris’ historic, window-covered Grand Palais, Christine and the Queen’s Héloïse Adelaïde Letissier said that this is “not a time for silence,” before lunging into the galloping, emotive cabaret of “La Vita Nuova.” The open-sky space and its large ground area made it seem as if Letissier was leaping around a bullfight’s arena, as she bobbed, weaved and croon-cackled in the most theatrical, puffy-shouldered outfit of the night.
Also dressed theatrically were Chloe x Halle, decked out in tech-punk gear and sunglasses and performing a throbbing, Gaga-eseque “Rest of Your Life” beneath a green laser triangle.
After Coldplay (from London, with an airy “Paradise”) and J Balvin (from Medellin, with a cluttered “Que Calor & MI Gente”) relied heavily on happily psychedelic, animated backgrounds for their filmed bits, modernist mezzo-soprano opera singer J’Nai Bridges brought it all home with great warmth and the help of Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Philharmonic and that org’s youthful YOLA. Live and socially distanced from an empty Hollywood Bowl, a tall, stately Bridges made “Heaven” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” into something both spiritually soaring and earthen, with a sense of inclusion in its third stanza: “She’s got the whole world in Her hands.”