Post Malone styled by Courtney Love is performing Nirvana songs live, but inside of your laptop screen. You’re hanging out in sweatpants in your living room while Postie is convincing you he doesn’t have a gun.
This has been the reality for many people for more than 5 months now. As venues have all been closed and shows have been postponed indefinitely, the music industry has been forced to adapt to a new and unexpected landscape.
Numerous artists and organizations have come forward with online events, many of which with the purpose to not only keep live music alive but to also raise money for COVID-19 relief funds and other relevant charities and projects.
It has been quite moving to witness how some of our favorite musicians are doing in these times. For many music artists, especially independent ones, continuing to generate revenue when festivals and tours are all canceled, hasn’t been an easy task. Stuck in isolation, the music experience now looks and feels different for both the performer and the spectator.
Instagram Live sessions, Youtube livestreams, and concerts on Twitch are some of the places and ways we’ve been keeping up with the music we love.
What has been fascinating about this current form of interaction is this newfound level of intimacy we didn’t expect to experience. Normally, we are all for off-screen concerts, workshops, dates… everything.
Despite the rapid rate at which technology is developing, and its numerous advantages in any given industry or context, we still value real face-to-face human connection more than anything. To us that’s irreplaceable.
But the situation right now is what it is, and we were pleasantly surprised to realize that there is something very much human and intimate in watching a musician we’ve been following for years perform from the comfort of their bedroom.
A big part of creating a successful performing artist who has a recognizable image and a loyal fanbase is putting them on a pedestal. Not all musicians count on this strategy, but at the end of the day, most often than not, we do end up seeing them as something bigger, something almost untouchable and out of the ordinary. With flashy outfits, big stages, and thousands or millions of followers on social media, we somehow separate ourselves from these people who are actually just as human as we ourselves are.
Seeing a lot of different names in this new frame of home concerts has been quite refreshing and even a little eye-opening. Stripped from expensive attire, mind-blowing visuals, or backup dancers performing choreography they’ve been rehearsing for months, we now get to experience the rawest and probably most authentic versions of some of our beloved entertainers.
And because the Internet has been overflowing with virtual concerts, here’s a list of 5 fantastic at-home performances you might have missed!
1. Jhené Aiko and H.E.R.
California-born R&B queens Jhené and Gabriella Wilson, known as H.E.R., give us a soulful acoustic rendition of “B.S.”, the fifth track from Jhené’s third studio album titled “Chilombo.” The song is their first collaborative project, and I think they make an incredible duo, both vocally and visually.
Serving us some much needed post-breakup encouragement, they are singing about regaining your power and confidence after a relationship didn’t work out. You can enjoy animated versions of H.E.R. and Aiko flexing on their exes in a Tesla Model X in an animated visual for the song here.
The performance is part of BET’s COVID-19 Relief Effort special called “Saving Our Selves” which aims to support those US communities left most vulnerable by the pandemic which has been proven to be disproportionately affecting the lives of African Americans.
2. Wyclef Jean
Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean is blessing us with live acoustic versions of “If I Was President,” the original “Hips Don’t Lie,” and his classic hit “Gone Till November.”
Many people don’t actually know that the iconic “Hips don’t lie” was initially written and recorded by Jean. According to some sources, he co-created the song together with Lauryn Hill and Pras for a Fugees reunion. According to others, Jean was asked by Shakira’s label to record a remix of “La Tortura,” but instead he suggested “Hips don’t lie” to her label, saying it will fit her perfectly, and renaming the hit which was then called “Dance like this.”
Fugees member Wyclef is “catching a vibe” (like he always is) kicking off the MTV Series “MTV Unplugged At Home” while briefly talking to us about politics, self-quarantine, and making music. Ten minutes of pure smoothness.
Neo-soul singer Solána is the perfect soundtrack for at-home chill nights during quarantine. Her voice is insanely moving, but also very soothing at the same time.
In “20 something” from her debut studio album “Ctrl,” SZA reflects on being a 20-something. She talks about not having her life together, and hoping to survive through her twenties — a challenging period for most of us, I believe. In a vulnerable and honest manner, she shares with us some of her feelings about love, relationships, and friendships.
4. Billie Eilish & Finneas
Remarkable brother and sister, Billie and Finneas, give us a lovely piano cover of soul-jazz classic “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb. Recorded by many big names, including Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Frank Sinatra, “Sunny” is a piece everybody knows, but I actually didn’t know the tragic story behind the famous song.
“Hebb wrote the song in the 48 hours following a double tragedy on November 22, 1963: the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Hebb’s older brother Harold was also stabbed to death outside a Nashville nightclub. Hebb was devastated by both events and many critics say that they, and critically the loss of his older brother, inspired the lyrics and tune.”
5. James Blake
James Blake softly covering “Come as you are” is something we didn’t even know we needed. Throughout the months of March, April, May, and June, James was making sure to stay connected with his fans. Like many other artists, he was regularly jumping on IG live, giving us amazing performances of both covers and his own originals.
He also did a Producer Q&A where he collected tons of questions from people on Twitter and Instagram, and then shared his experiences and know-how when it comes to producing music. You can watch the first part here, and find all the other videos posted on his IG account here.
Music has been keeping people together during self-isolation, and we’re so grateful it exists. Seeing many of our favorite artists in this more personal atmosphere has made us feel even fonder of them. What are some of your favorite at-home performances?
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