When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… Or as your drama teacher in high school frequently exclaimed, “the show must go on.” In compliance with the national COVID-19 quarantine government mandates, the iHeartRadio Music Awards were rescheduled for the first time since its 2014 inception. Known as the annual celebration of the media mogul’s top-spun radio hits and frequently played artists, the iHeartRadio Music Awards canceled its March 29th air date. However, rather than depriving fans of its music, iHeartMedia and its host network FOX produced a one-hour live televised compilation of living room concerts to raise money for Feeding America and the First Responders Children Foundation. Void of background dancers, glamorous costumes, and auto-tuning, the iHeart Living Room Concert for America featured a series of stripped down performances by today’s chart-topping artists. From singing on a swimming pool diving board to playing piano in front of a kitchen dishwasher, these socially isolated rockstars brought their A-game, successfully yielding millions of dollars in donations.
It’s no surprise that the two-time Grammy host and award-winning songwriter effortlessly graced viewers with her comforting stage presence and dynamic vocals. Opening the show with her latest hit single, “Underdog,” Alicia Keys dedicated her performance to the country’s first responders. Communicating her empathetic hustle behind achieving the American Dream, Alicia understands people’s pain and struggles during this particularly apprehensive time. Through her profound lyrics, she encourages everyone to “rise up” and support one another.
No piano, no guitar, zero percussion, just a cappella. Freely singing into a computer from his London home, Sam Smith decided to forego background instruments throughout his “How Do You Sleep?” living room performance. Unquestionably classified as a tenor with unparalleled soothing vibrato, Sam’s minimalist approach emphasized his fearless vulnerability while emotionally connecting with musicians seeking solace amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the video’s pre-recorded nature, Sam deserves America’s gold star for sharing his music across the pond.
Performing her multi-platinum certified hit song, “Bad Guy,” alongside the accompaniment of her brother and producer, Finneas, on acoustic guitar, the 2020 Grammy Awards’ Best New Artist, Billie Eilish, virtually serenaded viewers in a uniquely raw fashion. Absent of the radio recording’s heavy bass percussion and electronic synths, Billie executed a beautifully different take on the iconic single. Unapologetically herself, she displayed vast musicality while modestly sitting on a couch in sweat clothes, encouraging everyone to #StayHome.
Popularly known as the Foo Fighters lead singer and Nirvana drummer, musician Dave Grohl poured his heart and soul into the 90’s classic “My Hero.” Passionately belting raspy high notes while strumming his red acoustic guitar, Dave intimately welcomed viewers into his home. Despite his status and legacy, the performance connected with fans in a coffeehouse fashion, navigating towards his roots in an effort to bring people together and reduce nationwide anxieties.
MY OH MY! Exerting chills from her Miami home, Camila Cabello’s raw rendition of “My Oh My” with boyfriend Shawn Mendes’ guitar accompaniment highlighted her artistry and vocal abilities beyond measure. A victim of auto-tuned pop recordings, the undeniably talented “Havana” songstress stunned viewers with her effervescent alto riffs and sultry rhythmic singing. Revealing the authentic woman beneath her music industry celebrity exterior, Camila remained true to herself while providing comfort in social distancing.
SIR ELTON JOHN
In addition to the previously mentioned musicians, Demi Lovato, Tim McGraw, Mariah Carey, Billie Joe Armstrong, the Backstreet Boys, and H.E.R. all contributed towards the unforgettable evening. However, very few of the performances could hold a candle to the host and emcee, Sir Elton John. A philanthropist, role model and inspiration to millions, Elton’s influence spans every continent and corner of the earth. Generously giving his time and resources to help lead the call to action in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, Elton graciously connected influential artists and television personalities to share their talents and words of wisdom with living rooms nationwide. Encouraging citizens to freely donate and support our first responders, the notorious “Rocketman” closed the televised special with a moving performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Remarkably 73-years-young, Elton wholeheartedly conveyed optimism throughout each piano chord and melody, warmly spreading hope among viewers and sharing his light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
Watch the entire iHeart Living Room Concert for America here: