Musical Performances of the 2021 Presidential Inauguration
Yesterday, The United States swore in the 46th president, Joseph R. Biden, and made history with the inauguration of the first female vice president, Kamala Harris.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the day looked a little different than Inauguration Days past, but one thing that was not missing was some amazing music. No matter what anybody’s political beliefs may be, there was no doubt that the day was full of spectacular performances from some of music’s biggest names.
Lady Gaga appeared to sing the National Anthem accompanied by the United States Marine Band. Donning a black and red ballgown with a large golden bird pin (which people then compared to a Hunger Games mocking jay pin), Lady Gaga stunned viewers everywhere with her powerful performance, during which she turned to the U.S. Capitol’s flag while singing “...gave proof through the night that our flag was still there”.
Miss J-Lo showed up wearing a white ensemble to perform a patriotic medley consisting of “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. She also recited part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish: “una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos.”
The 2020 Billboard Icon Award winner made an appearance to sing an acapella version of “Amazing Grace”, during which he encouraged not just the people in attendance at the ceremony, but everyone watching at home, to sing along “as one, united”.
ANDRA DAY & “SKATE KID” KAITLYN SAUNDERS
Remotely from California, Andra Day gave viewers an absolutely beautiful performance of her single “Rise Up”, which was nominated for Best R&B Performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards. During the performance, the camera fades across the coast to “Skate Kid” Kaitlyn Saunders roller skating through the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.
From a Miami pier, the classic rock band performed a stripped down, acoustic version of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”. The skies in the background started out cloudy, but by the end of the performance, the sun had come.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE & ANT CLEMMONS
Ant Clemmons and J.T. brought viewers brand new music with “Better Days”, a song that they collaborated on the past few months. Their hope was to bring the world a reminder that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.
John Legend performed a rendition of jazz song Feeling Good, originally written in the 1960’s by American composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, but more well known for covers by Michael Buble, Nina Simone, and more. Legend performed the tune next to the Lincoln Memorial, where he posed for Instagram photos earlier with wife Chrissy and their children, Luna and Miles.
Demi performed “Lovely Day”, originally by Bill Withers, with a lovely sunrise background behind her. The performance also featured virtual appearances from medical frontline workers, who have shown a lot of courage over the past year, showing up to work every day and putting their health at risk to care for those battling COVID-19. What a lovely way for Demi to give these heroes a shoutout.
"The Boss" appeared to perform “Land of Hope and Dreams” in front of the Lincoln Memorial, expressing that he was proud to be in Washington D.C., and “wanted to offer a small prayer for our country”. In the past, Sprinsteen has criticized former president Donald Trump for his response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and objected Trump’s use of the 1984 Springsteen hit, “Born in the U.S.A” at his rallies.
Lead singer Dave Grohl used the band’s performance of “Times Like These” to pay tribute to America’s teachers, giving a shout out to Dr. Jill Biden and his mother, Virginia, who was an educator and mentor to her students.
TYLER HUBBARD & TIM MCGRAW
The Florida Georgia Line member collaborated with Tim McGraw on their new song, “Undivided”. With lyrics including “I think it’s time to come together, you and I can make a change”, the song calls on the unity that Joe Biden encouraged during his presidential campaign.
The band ended over twenty years ago, but later discovered that “You Get What You Give” is a big hit in the Biden household. That is when the bandmates vowed that if Joe Biden became the U.S. President, they would reunite again to perform the song for his inauguration. They kept their promise and gave a remote performance of their hit single featuring viewers watching through a computer screen- a sight that has become all too common this past year.
Katy Perry lit up the night with a dazzling performance of “Firework”, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, with red, white, and blue fireworks flying around the National Mall. During the performance the President and First Lady can be seen gazing from the White House Balcony, while Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff watch from the Lincoln Memorial.
(All rights to the performances and songs above go to the performers, writers, and the Biden Inaugural Committee)