sat 20/07/2024

One World: Together at Home livestream review - all eight hours of it! | reviews, news & interviews

One World: Together at Home livestream review - all eight hours of it!

One World: Together at Home livestream review - all eight hours of it!

Theartsdesk's festival-friendly hedonist, Caspar Gomez, does the full eight hours of lockdown action

The Stones: Left, Mick and Ron performing; right, Keef and Charlie putting in an appearance

What times. They cancelled Glastonbury. Festival season 2020 disappeared. Then certain potions and compounds associated with festivaling ran dry. Well, the latter exist, of course. There’s a fellow over the road who’s still selling talcum powder and stinking chemo-skunk from his porch.

The reprobates who gather there on sunny days clearly think “social distancing” is an alternate term for a restraining order which, on this one lucky occasion, doesn’t apply to them. So how about a mini-music fest right here? With all the quality quivver fizz and nom noms an insurmountable car journey away, I’m locked down for this One World: Together At Home thingy with partner-in-crime Finetime, my youthful understudy GE, a fridge of Cobra beer, a stash of French red wine, a Maker’s Mark whisky and, for emergencies, a bottle of port. Let’s see if we can’t festivalize this eight-hour mission…


Lady Gaga curated this event on behalf of the Global Citizen anti-poverty campaign and the World Health Organization. The actual concert is a two hour affair, but there’s also a six hour “pre-concert” bursting with artists of substantial profile (if you just want to read about the final two hour main event, scroll down to the header below). We decided to guzzle the lot which, if you’re based in the UK, takes place between 7pm and 3am. As it begins, I’m still finishing my daily exercises. These are a disgusting development to stop me turning into Mr Creosote now that I can’t stomp about the nightworld (because there is no nightworld!). Thus I am doing 220 jumping jacks while Niall Horan from One Direction opens proceedings, then Rita Ora comes on.

“Loads of people I know fancy her,” says GE. That’s about all any of us has to say about either of them.

Nothing musically gripping is happening and I haven’t had a beer. Instead, I am now lying on my back, waving my legs around. Something for the stomach muscles, apparently. If anyone thinks I’m continuing this business once lockdown is over, they’re badly deluded. Did people keep eating powdered egg and fillet of snoek once rationing was over in the Fifties? I rest my case.

Kesha’s looking foggy in her living room. I crack a beer. I like Kesha (pictured below left). She has spirit but today she seems sort of stoned, though I don’t think she is. The sound is fuzzy. Throughout these live streams, the sound is often murky but enjoyment depends on quite how bad it is and how each artist adapts, what energy they project, how interesting the potted succulents in their living rooms are. “Rainbow” she plays, but it’s too roily.

keshaLet me say, at this point, that I – we – sit about taking the piss out of many of these acts doing their One World turns. The show forms a backdrop to our evening blather, a conversation piece, much as it does in multi-millions of homes across the globe. Occasionally the comments are gushingly positive, sometimes they’re catty and mean-spirited, mostly just silly, but all are frivolous. At this time, whether we think they’re shite or ace is even more irrelevant than usual. Those celebs turn the cameras on and fling what they have into the ether, providing levity and distraction as it’s needed. So good on ‘em.

Jack Black looks like a yeti. He says he wants to “flatten this curve”. He’s talking about his stomach. He rubs it and mucks about in his yard, which is about the size of a public park and has a swimming pool. We decide we want to be locked down with Jack Black (pictured below right). He’s good at pulling silly faces and making us laugh. The President of the United Nations General Assembly, who is on next, less so.

“This is the first thing that’s actually good,” says GE. She is talking about a bunch of classical musicians doing Saint-Saëns’s Carnival des Animaux using multi-screen tech. They appear in the Zoom Gallery format that we’re all becoming used to as we pretend that getting pissed at the kitchen table in front of a laptop is a night out.

jackGE is right but I’ve realised that if I relate the next five hours in such detail, this review is going to be a short novel and you’ll stop reading and, instead, go and fondle toilet roll in the small glimpse of sunshine that your only south-facing window allows. So I’ll try and speed things up a bit.

What’s pleasing about the pre-concert is its global reach. We watch artists who are superstars in their own regions, but we have never heard of. They range from Hassan Al Jassmi from the United Arab Emirates to Juanes from Colombia to Eason Chan from China to a peculiar Canadian act called Michael Bublé. None of them particularly press my buttons, although the latter’s version of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” appeals to Finetime for some reason, probably because he’s drunk most of a bottle of white wine and is becoming maudlin.

Like Comic Relief, One World is interspersed with footage of crisis, COVID-19’s moving and human stories. All the presenters, who at points include Hollywood heavyweights Matthew McConaughey and Don Cheadle, point out repeatedly that this is not a fundraiser; it already raised $50 million before broadcast (up to $127 million/£102 million at the time of writing). They tell us to go to and apply pressure to governments, especially regarding policies towards society’s less fortunate. Given what an utter twat Trump is being, actually inciting quarantine-breaking via Twitter, it’s good to hear such sanity. Meanwhile, Jennifer Hudson does “Memory” from Cats. I am aware that only a fool tunes into to this sort of event for cutting edge music or noisiness or techno, but even lockdown isn’t going to soften me to Andrew Lloyd Weber.

The Killers’ frontman, Brandon Flowers, plays a weird Bontempi-style version of “Mr Brightside” accompanied by drummer Ronnie Vanucci Jr on guitar. He sings tunelessly and the whole is messy yet weirdly enjoyable. It might not be if I heard it again but is right now (not keen on The Killers). Finetime wriggles about on the sofa, as if he might like to dance but can’t be bothered, while GE sings along. Maybe it’s just because this is the first bonafide pop standard so far and our minds are gagging for familiarity.

Watch The Killers perform "Mr Brightside" for One World: Together At Home

US pop star Charlie Puth looks about 13 and is isolating at his parents’ house. He is actually 28. He uses some horrible soppy vocal effect, pulls wanking faces all the time, and when he plays his 2017 megahit “Attention”, ramps the hamming into overdrive. I prod my beer in my eye. Finetime pushes his face into a cushion so he doesn’t have to look at Puth’s unmade bed, visible behind him, a right mess that seems to be bringing on Finetime’s OCD twitchiness.

I don’t know who Jessie Reyez is but she doesn’t look promising, a pretty young woman, but with lips glossed to the point where they look like an Instragram-themed installation designed by Salvador Dali and Jeff Koons. Then she plays a song called “Coffin” and it works, a simple strum, not over-emoting, and we’re onside, never mind the Insta-lips. Jessie J takes it to another level; great to have a piss-taking Brit aboard telling us that if you don’t know the song properly, don’t sing along and spoil it for everyone else. She has the music pre-set and sings “Flashlight” from Pitch Perfect 2. Unfortunately, GE ignores the advice and joins in.

Watch Jessie Reyez perform "Coffin" for One World: Together at Home

Now the actress Danai Gurira is being very serious. This pandemic is serious – no, really! –  but I’d still have preferred her as Michonne from The Walking Dead, samurai sword in hand, carving up COVID-zombies. Then Annie Lennox does “I Saved the World Today” at a piano. I never realised it was a Eurythmics song and it has a lovely sad feel so I try and forget it has any connection to Dave Stewart and enjoy it while sucking down my sixth beer.

Pizza has been delivered. We all try and get at it without engaging with the cardboard packaging, which is surely covered in Corona fleas, flies, micro-termites and hypochondriac paranoia. They taste great, though, especially with cold Cobra beer. Pizzas are pointless without beer. Thankfully Spongebob Squarepants has appeared. He’s washing his hands again and again, more and more, as the voiceover instructs, until eventually they fall off. His stumps glint at us. “Now that’s thorough!” laughs the voiceover. It would be a lysergic freak-out moment but no such luck tonight.

commonDo you think the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium often appears in shows alongside US hip hop don Common (pictured left)? The latter, dressed in a light orange jumper and fawn slacks that make him look like someone’s uncle, does a couple of numbers. His sound is awful, making me feel much better about the Facebook Live broadcasting I’ve been attempting lately. His main man, DJ Dummy the Genius, is in in the background dropping beats which we can hardly hear but Common’s slick, chewy word-flow and hip hop miming goes some way to making up for it.

Chris out of Christine and the Queens is a pro at this lockdown broadcasting game, doing it regularly since the start and, stood in an empty room, her blue shirt open to the navel, she tells us with a wistful sigh, “It’s all about the screens now,” and plays “People, I’ve Been Sad” to a backing track. She is mesmeric and it works. Zucchero is an Italian megastar but he looks tramp-like, clad in a ZU-initialled beanie hat in what looks like a box room. Finetime observes that the colour-matching of the paint has something to be desired. He’s right. Zucchero plays a mean blues keyboard, though, and nails a version of The Korgis’ “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”, a song I confess an embarrassing weakness for. He does it like Joe Cocker might have, had he still been around.

Watch Christine and the Queens perform "People, I've Been Sad" for One World: Together at Home

The One World music choices are mostly retro, easy and nostalgic, sometimes full of longing, looking to a time when we were all free. I don’t mind the easy listening ones usually but then here’s Noughties troubadour Jack Johnson, sitting in his shorts on his verdant Hawaiian back doorstep. He plays his “Better Together” hit. Jaysus! It sends chills through me, harking back to another era, yes, but one when everyone played his music and David Gray and bloody Damien Rice. That was a nightmare we’re well off out off. All things do pass. Happily that’s true.

Mayors from Lagos to London are now telling us to be safe. Of course they are. And then here’s Kesha again, looking a bit madder than before, rolling around on a white fluffy thing that could be some sort of disco seat, of perhaps a section of elevated rug. She dances her arms about in an eccentric sedentary choreography reminiscent of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and sings “Praying”. Then the cast of Contagion appear (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Ehle and Laurence Fishburne but no Gwyneth Paltrow…). Now, there’s a film that Steven Soderbergh must never have imagined would become one of his most successful, after it completed a decent cinema run back in 2011.

Adam Lambert was fronting the remnants of Queen last time I looked, suitably Freddie-esque. Now, in emerald eye make-up, a vest and an aquamarine silk shirt, he’s singing last year’s non-hit “Superpower”, looking like a young Liberace cruising the city’s sleazy regions (that, by the way, is a compliment). “All the witches and the COVID better get out of my way,” he sings. They better had.

The telly keeps informing us that the likes of Proctor & Gamble, IBM, Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson and Budweiser are helping us out. So they fucking should. The one percent who own 44 percent of the world’s wealth, they owe us all and it’s payback time. These rich fuckers have much more than anyone could ever use and the world, about to slump into its biggest economic depression since the 1930s, desperately needs some of it back. Yes! Beer-rant on. Time to start that red wine.

Jess Glynne seems a good sort, unpretentious and very smiley, but whatever she’s singing slides by without impacting, then Sho Madjozi from South Africa appears (pictured below right), a vision in a psychedelic glitter top with multi-coloured feather epaulettes. Her backing track is dimmed out but it doesn’t matter. She brings the party as she looms into the camera and raps a tune called “Good Over Here”. More of her, please.

shoLaverne Cox is presenting, and in the background, quietly, is elevator music redolent of old-fashioned porn films. How weird. The red wine is a good one from France. Can’t spend money going out, might as well spend it staying in. Even more incongruously, the soft porn lounge sounds cut to representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish faiths telling us how they’re all in it together. That’s that sorted then. About time.

GE goes to bed, perhaps somewhat bored. “It’s a bit samey,” she says. It is. You can’t do Live Aid/Live 8 from Charlie Puth’s parents’ bedroom, but something is happening here and I still want in. Finetime is completely horizontal, eating peanuts on a red sofa. He yawns. I stand up and bounce around the room, do some leg stretches that I once saw a jogger do leaning against a wall. Gotta keep moving, always gotta keep moving at these lockdown festival things. Another lug of red. Big-in-Ireland band Picture This play a song about Winona Ryder and change the lyrics so they’re about hand sanitiser. Not even the wildest surrealist could have ever imagined, two months ago, that lyrics about hand sanitiser would be currency. Picture This actually hand sanitise during the song too and make sure we know that they are isolating together.

Back to Hawaii. It’s not only Jack Johnson stuck out there, apparently. Here’s long-ago James Bond and [spoiler alert] the man who tops Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday… Pierce Brosnan! He warbles about shamans and portals and visions like a whisky-level Terence McKenna, and I can only applaud him. A short parade of mid-level US TV stars follows (Lily Reinhardt from Riverdale, Sam Heughan from Outlander). Then here’s Ellie Goulding playing a “chill” version of her hit “Burn” and Sheryl Crow reminding us that every day is a winding road. Then we reach Hozier (pictured below left).

hozierIn a woolly black polo-neck jumper, accompanied by an equally bearded and equally black-clad beatnik-looking scruff, in an old-fashioned music room, low-lit by a table lamp, with vinyl records shelved and visible, he does “Take Me To Church”. He successfully reanimates the haunted folk-gospel heart of the song and it gets me. Finetime misses it. He’s in the kitchen, scrubbing his hands (like Spongebob) after carrying the COVID-addled pizza boxes out. And then, just like that, yawning, he goes off to bed. Three hours or so to go. I’m not giving up so easily.

Who’s this? Angèle? She looks guileless and beautiful, young and clever, like Marianne Faithfull in 1964 but surrounded by keyboards and sequencers and stuff. I Google her and she’s a big contemporary Francophone pop star. She plays “Balance Ton Quoi”, a sweet sliver of chanson synth-pop, then tells us to "please spread the love, not the virus.” If I was 16 I might have fallen hard, but I’m 52, full of red wine, sprawled on a sofa, and my key focus is retrieving the remains of Finetime’s bowl of peanuts from the table, just beyond my grasp. Oh, the adventures of lockdown; this is the stuff we’ll tell our grandchildren. We all did our part!

Watch Angèle perform "Balance Ton Quoi" for One World: Together at Home

Ignoring the prime Roquefort of K-Pop sensations SuperM whose squeaky clean mime-along Zoom gallery is plasticized tween heaven, we arrive at Luis Fonsi, with no Bieber in evidence, laying down a funky MTV Unplugged-style “Despacito” accompanied by a band who are – the horror! - actually there with him (two meters apart, but still). The bass and the cajon are plugged right into the rhythm. What a tune!

I forgot to mention Sofi Tukker, a memorable club-pop duo I stood up and danced to briefly, a medically-advised living room shuffle that traditionally prevents deep vein thrombosis during wild solo lockdown rave-ups such as this. Aside from them, we’ll fast forward through a bunch – a perky split-screen dance party to John Legend’s “Bigger Love”; fearsome WWE wrestler Braun Strowman showing us, yet again, that washing hands properly is for big men as well as sentient, buck-toothed deep sea creatures; country pop trio Lady Antebellum stunningly harmonizing on “What I’m Leaving For”, despite being in different locations, the song itself cleverly chosen, precision-tooled to pluck heart strings for the plight of frontline workers.

One last stop before the concert proper. I raise a toast again to Jessie J, whose character shines even brighter on “Bang Bang”, giving it full soul-gospel belt in her hoop earrings and loose-fit crop top. She appears to muff the words but it doesn’t matter, she sums up the spirit of the occasion, the glimmer of talent and stardom, a bit crap in places, but full of heart, so who cares! How does that work? It just does.

MAIN EVENT (Two Hours)

Here we are. Six hours in. This next two hour section is showing on NBC, ABC and CBC in the States, an event in itself. To prove the point, their late show anchor men Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert are all working together, albeit separated by Zoom-style boxes. They aren’t familiar faces in the UK, so their wise-cracking - mostly about the fact two of them are called Jimmy – does not have the comfort factor it undoubtedly has across the pond. And so on to the music.

But not quite yet. First, let’s open the port, balanced with more red wine, and a packet of dark chocolate-covered ginger biscuits. I eat two and the dark chocolate/red wine combo brings late night satiation. Then I add the port. Hooked in now, here comes Gaga (pictured below right).

gagaEver since A Star is Born, all kinds have jumped on the Gaga train, all those sorts saying she’s now “a proper singer”. All that. She always was. But tonight, sitting at a white grand with a black top, braces and striped pyjama “pants” (linen trousers, people) she belts out Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”, strident voice punching like a Fifties Broadway legend. It’s fine but I wish for more Gaga that never appears.

A series of vintage turns clogs the first half. Paul McCartney, in white shirt and black waistcoat, looking like a Greek waiter approaching retirement, acquits a passable organ-fuelled “Lady Madonna”, intercut with well-chosen images of health workers. Elton John is more curious. Where did he get that voice from? By the end of his life The Fall’s Mark E Smith, in concert, no long bothered with comprehensible English at all but sang entirely in his own consonant-eating howl-language; well, Elton seems to be heading that way enunciating “I’m Still Standing” in a strangled voice as if playing a bullfrog baddie in a Disney animation. In his back garden, he’s sat at yet another grand, a couple of basketballs visible on the ground behind him. He hammers those keys with impressive vigour.

Stevie Wonder rips into the late Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” with gusto, but it’s the Rolling Stones, in four locations, who succeed best of the veterans, with their ever-golden 1969 corker, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Mick Jagger, playing an acoustic, and Ronnie Wood, letting the requisite electric licks fly, do all the heavy lifting. By contrast, Charlie Watts placidly drums on a couple of record boxes and the padded arm of an easy chair. Velvet-jacketed Keef, hair akimbo, enjoys a candlelit iced bourbon (at a guess), plucks at an acoustic, and rubs his nose. I take my port and push my face to the TV, trying to read what the leather clad book is on Keef’s coffee table, but I cannot read a thing. Mick exhorts me to sing and I do. I wave my port about, alone in a southern English seaside town. Yet not really alone at all.

Watch The Rolling Stones perform "You Can't Always Get What You Want" for One World: Together at Home

So Kacey Musgraves did a song called “Rainbow”, but I don’t really know who she is and wasn’t convinced I needed to after that. Was more interested in a pink fluff-muppet baby from Sesame Street which guided us to hug our way through “big feelings”. On the technical front it’s weird that, after six hours where it was fine, during the actual concert proper, the vocals slip out of synch with the visuals on my Amazon Prime. Also, when the US has adverts, there’s a black ident holding page in the UK. If you watched this section on the BBC the next evening (Sunday 19th), they filled those holes with Little Mix, Tom Jones and Ragn’n’Bone Man but I never saw that.

I did see David and Victoria Beckham, as rarely spotted together as an owl and a bulldozer; Jimmy Fallon did Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” with The Roots, another dodgy song I have a soft spot for. Then a clip of Chris Martin playing “Yellow” in a beanie hat, smiling unctuously, followed by Colombian star Maluma performing “Carnival”, cutting off sharply as soon as it stops. There’s less casual mucking about in the concert proper and I miss it.

Pop superstars and young lovers Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes will have warmed the cockles of romantic softies everywhere, sat at the billionth grand of the night, in what looked like the tasteful Cellar of one of Gus Fring’s Mexican boltholes in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul. The pair schmaltz up Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” which, let’s be honest, was pretty ripe to begin with. What makes it is the sideways glances that Cabello keeps giving Mendes. Love is in the air, da, da-da, da, da-da…

Watch Camile Cabello and Shawn Mendes perform "What a Wonderful World" for One World: Together at Home

Notable and welcome are the shout-outs One World gives to the African-American community, acknowledging the slamming it’s taking; the antithesis of Trump’s careless idiot rhetoric and the fools “liberating” Michigan. Living deity Beyoncé Knowles, stylishly capped, points out that in her hometown of Houston 57 percent of the COVID fatalities are black. Alicia Keys, looking as ever like the world’s most attractive school teacher/librarian, continues the theme in her clip, and Oprah Winfrey, conscience of Middle America, consolidates by pointing towards South Africa and hinting at what might happen to communities “ransacked by HIV and AIDS”.

LL Cool J says some stuff, and then there’s a surprise. Eddie Vedder sat at a wheezing miniature church organ, surrounded by candles like he’s Dracula. He musters a persuasive, gothic keyboard blues take on his band Pearl Jam’s recent tune “River Cross”. I don’t much care for Pearl Jam but this strange, unlikely moodiness offers a genuine moment. My port hand is raised in its general direction.

Two artists I was looking forward to are rising superstars Lizzo and Billie Eilish. Both their performances offer honest passion but, for me, don’t quite bust out. Lizzo, face up close to the camera, hair a beret of braids, occasional traffic visible through the window behind her, emotes Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, one of the greatest pop songs of all. Sounds raw and full but my wine-black soul, after all these hours, is becoming greedy. Finetime reappears briefly when Billie Eilish, her hair fluorescent lime and black, wearing a grey tracksuit, renders a foggily recorded but likeable version of “Sunny”, Bobby Hebb’s deathless 1966 sunshine soul classic, her brother Finneas on organ. Finetime pauses on his near-sleep journeys and acclaims it “really touching”, before disappearing.

Watch Billie Eilish perform "Sunny" for One World: Together at Home

And here’s Bill and Melinda Gates – or rather MELINDA and Bill Gates – talking about their depraved plotting to find a vaccine. And it’s time for all the frazzle-brains to spout about the anti-COVID serum injecting tracking robots into our blood, the same goons who’ve caused measles to re-enter circulation. Whoever knew that humanity, gifted with such minds, could become entangled in such apophenic idiocy. Seems a shame when there are so, so many real and relentless forces out there that need halting.

Michelle Obama  and Laura Bush, two ex-First Ladies of the USA, are an unlikely Republican/Democrat team, forces joined to make clear COVID is bigger than politics. Then it’s time for Kiwi country rocker Keith Urban who, via whacked-out tech, has three identically dressed versions of himself in his spacious studio, the nearest to an actual gig stage we’ve seen all night, singing Steve Winwood’s awful MOR classic “Higher Love”. Much as I stare with veined, winey eyes, I cannot see how he does the visual trickery. Shallow as I secretly am, I wait for his wife Nicole Kidman to appear and, yay, she does at the very end for a second or two. Well, you’re not liable to see Lightning Bolt on this show so get your kicks where you find them.

Burna Boy performs a medley of “African Giant” and “Hallelujah” (not that one), sat in a yellow leather-effect plastic chair in Lagos, Nigeria, moving me little, and John Legend shows off all his Grammys while doing “Stand By Me” with Sam Smith, whose abode looks more pleasingly shambolic. The next song reminds me of the effect The Cars’ “Drive” had as people absorbed Live Aid. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, next to a blue couch of rejected guitars, dark hair awry, looking akin to Donovan circa 1969, strums his melancholic 2005 hit “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, interspersed with photographs of eerie empty city streets. It’s perfect. Right now, it’s perfect, moodily beautiful: “Summer has come and passed/The innocent can never last.” It’s late-ish now, at least by COVID-19 lockdown standards, when so many are keeping agricultural hours. I put my feet on the coffee table between the bottles and let my mind wander.

Watch Billie Joe Armstrong perform "Wake Me Up When September Ends" for One World: Together at Home

Idris Elba and wife Sabrina snap me back with the solid message “Tell our leaders we all deserve quality health care.” Yes! Then Idris goes all cheeky. “I’m going to sing a song now,” he announces, “Lady Gaga said it was cool.” But his wife hauls him away and the camera cuts to Pharrell Williams telling us what C19 is doing to schools. It’s not far off 3am.

The whole show ends with appalling tosh. Celine Dion, in a powder blue suit, gives it her usual welly on “The Prayer”, an Oscar-nominated cod-operatic 1998 number with Andrea Bocelli, also present. In the usual Zoom-style gallery view, the duo are joined by Lady Gaga, Chinese pianist Lang Lang and the ubiquitous John Legend, but it’s a bombastic bloater, miscalculated, supposed to raise spirits but actually a giant bag of wind.

Just prior to it, Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street told us all to stay inside, said his life would be much more pleasant if we did. What a grouch! Liked him. But rewind a little further and there’s a better stopping point: Taylor Swift is sat at the evening’s final grand piano, pastel lily-pad wallpaper behind her, wearing a black V-neck. Straight-forwardly, she tackles the emotive “Soon You’ll Get Better” from her last album, a song that picks apart the way illness in those we love affects our emotions. It works without overplaying its hand.

Watch Taylor Swift perform "Soon You'll Get Better" for One World: Together at Home

I put my port down. It’s time for bed. Long gone time. Earlier in the evening World Health organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, mentioned that this strange, sad, lethal and perturbing patch of human history is “a unique opportunity to put aside our differences… and see and seek the best in each other”. True enough but it’s a line from Taylor Swift’s song that sits with me as I creep off to bed: “This won’t go back to normal – if it ever was.”

Onwards, then, ever, ever on.

Below: Watch the two hour One World: Together at Home broadcast


It's LL Cool J, and Keith Urban is Australian, not a Kiwi.

Editor's Note: Thanks for the LL Cool J shout. Caspar wrote these 4600 words fast, probably sipping bourbon all the while, and the error must have slipped through the net. Re. Keith Urban, yes, he's Australian, mainly, but he does sometimes like to claim his New Zealnd heritage and birthright.

Thanks for that. I didn't do my research and hadn't realised Mr Urban was born in New Zealand. My bad ;-)

"Ignoring the prime Roquefort of K-Pop sensations SuperM whose squeaky clean mime-along Zoom gallery is plasticized tween heaven' I always wonder: do journalists ever get tired of parroting the usual prejudices of their kind? Do they do this to appear "cool" to other musical journalists and "superior" to the "tweens"? Do you really get enjoyment out of reducing a successful and popular group down to half a line written in a way that implies that they were beneath your notice - worse, they weren't "worthy" of your attention, so you ignored them? Do you feel special and above it all, looking down on these groups and judging them when, in truth, you just have no understanding of the Kpop genre beyond the blatantly wrong prejudice that "boy group = tween fans"? It is apparently too much to ask that journalists reviewing a musical event approach all groups with an open mind. Instead, the order of the day is to form prejudices based on what everyone around you is saying (because heaven forbid you listen to a group with an open mind and see what you yourself think about them), and then to spout out your ignorance in a ridiculous word salad, spreading the prejudice to others who read your article. I would recommend you listen to their video again, appreciate that they tried to make it fun and uplifting for viewers and that their song was one of the most entertaining and cheerful of the entire event... but you've already made up your mind, haven't you. And before you pass this off as the ravings of an "overzealous Kpop stan", I honestly don't care if you hated the video or disliked the music. The least you could have done was given it a fair shake in this review, as you did any other group that participated in this event. "The song was not my taste" - fair enough. But you didn't even give them that. You devoted much more of the article to your discussion of pizza than you did this group. If you cannot approach all musical genres with an open mind and an interest in learning about them, if instead you just want to fester in your own preconceptions and personal tastes, you are useless as a musical reviewer. I'm greatly disappointed.... but I know you probably don't really care about this or about your own integrity as a reviewer and will just sit at your desk laughing and mocking my comment. I know I just wasted my time but I felt it had to be said.

Editor's Note: Thanks for your comment, Liz. Caspar is unavailable right now but I did text him your thoughts. He replied, "Yes, but it was a really good pizza." I can assure you, however, that no-one is laughing and mocking. It's not our style here at theartsdesk. I just don't think Caspar really 'gets' SuperM. Anyway, all the best to you in these strange times.

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