The annual Global Citizen Festival held in New York’s Central Park is always a political event, at least in the depressing sense that calling for people to join together and help end global poverty is “political,” but this year’s event on Saturday night went a bit further than normal. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Stevie Wonder made an overt nod to Donald Trump’s anger at NFL players who choose to kneel during the National Anthem by “taking a knee for America” before his set, explaining that he was kneeling “in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world, and our globe.” He was later joined by Pharrell Williams, who played “We Are The World,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and a pseudo-mashup of “Happy” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Also during the fest, Demo Lovato was named the Global Citizen ambassador for mental health, and she “spoke powerfully” on ending the stigma surrounding mental health conditions and helping people get access to the help they may need. Lupita Nyong’o was there as well, introducing Andra Day and a cover of Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” noting that the song was written over 80 years ago as a nod to “the impact of racial injustice” that is still going on today.
Apparently, things got “incendiary” when Green Day, one of the headliners, took the stage. A Variety report says the band leaned heavily into songs from American Idiot, which was the last time Green Day got very loudly political, but it sounds like they tweaked some songs around in order to make them less about George W. Bush and more about Donald Trump. Specifically, a line from “American Idiot” was changed from “I’m not a part of a redneck agenda” to “I’m not a part of a dumb Trump America,” which isn’t exactly a vicious takedown, but not every dig at Trump has to be particularly clever.