One World: Together At Home, by Bob Lefsetz

It was not must see TV.

Bob Lefsetz

I thought the Stones were good, Mick Jagger sounded great, and then when the keyboard came in, I realized it was all prerecorded and massaged and I was disappointed.

Yes, “One World” was not live. And it played to the lowest common denominator, the supposed one world we all live in, whereas when music was in its heyday, it was us versus them.

Even during the heyday of MTV. MTV made music into a monoculture, you were either on the station or off. But Live Aid was a seminal event yet to be repeated. Because it was about those in the know versus those out of the loop. Live Aid did not need to be on every television outlet, just MTV, because that’s where the youth lived, where the heartbeat of music lived, it was a club for those who not only had a sense of humor but could be irreverent and make fun of the status quo. It was about testing limits. The VJs were our heroes.

Instead, Saturday night we got late night hosts in suits. Come on, are you wearing a suit and tie at home every day? Isn’t all the scuttlebutt about how people are wearing no pants, yet you dress up like it’s business as usual?

Sure, it was cool to see the first responders, they got their due. And I can’t argue with the $127 million they raised, but this show missed the mark.

First and foremost it was not promoted properly, you did not get the feeling you had to be there, had to watch, or you were gonna miss out.

I chalk that down to promotion. Funny how a business based on promotion doesn’t know how to do it, especially when it’s out of their comfort zone. MTV would give away a house, constantly embellish the brand, but there was no innovation in the promotion of this show. No regular member of the population featured because they raised the most money themselves, no engagement of the audience in an era where it’s all about the audience.

The Stones built their rep on calling themselves the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band to the point where it was nearly impossible to get a ticket. Whereas you knew you didn’t have to watch on Saturday night, because if anything good happened, you could replay it on YouTube the next day, just like with SNL, just like with everything in today’s world other than sports. Once again, MTV had this right, with its VMAs. You had to tune in because of the antics, you never knew what you might miss, you wanted to be able to be part of the discussion right away, whether it be about Pee Wee Herman opening the show after being arrested, or the give and take between RuPaul and Milton Berle. We live for these moments.

As for the two hour TV show… This is what network does best, condense the product, remove all the edges for consumption for a mainstream that does not exist. Either it’s an all day event that we have to sit on the couch for, or we’re just not interested. As for tape delay on the west coast…even the Grammys don’t do that anymore.

And hip-hop rules the world, but it was markedly absent here. You can get the Stones, but not Jay-Z, Kanye and Drake to perform? The show was safe, when music has always prospered when it’s dangerous.

We do not live in a one love world. As a matter of fact, we live in an incredibly fractious world. But this was not addressed, for fear of offending someone.

Meanwhile, John Oliver goes on HBO from his house, makes jokes about the lame cellphone signal of AT&T, his boss, and then proceeds to eviscerate Fox News and Donald Trump, there were no false equivalencies, he attacked the preacher who blew away the virus, picturing his private jet in the background…this is what music did in its heyday, shine a light on hypocrisy.

And when the acts don’t do it live, oh some did, but when you don’t, you lose credibility. Give Alicia Keys credit for appearing without makeup, everybody else was so busy massaging their image and their music as to be homogenized. As for the tattoos… It’s just like in the seventies, long hair no longer made you a dangerous outlaw and today neither do tattoos. Years ago, but not now. Now you look like a follower more than a leader. Leaders always do the opposite. Want to test the limits today…get no tattoos!

But they’re part of the image today, and it’s solely image.

And there was no metal… For a show that claimed to want to bring us all together, a lot of musical elements were left out.

It’s easy to pat yourself on the back, say you did a good thing. But people who make a difference do more. They push the envelope, they make people uncomfortable, they make people think. Hell, there wasn’t even a DJ on this show, would that have been too hard to include?

Just because you raised some money, that does not mean you’re immune from criticism. Next time, make it must see. Everybody plays live live, it’s done in real time, the edgy genres are included. It’s the mistakes that draw people to you. Everybody would accept a technical glitch, especially under these circumstances. But instead we got a seamless production that no one is talking about now that it’s over. Hell, I just checked the Spotify streams, and not one has broken six figures! Sure, it’s early, but this show was up Saturday night, and if there was a huge desire to experience it, those streams would be through the roof, they’d dominate the Top 50. But the Top 50 is still dominated by the Weeknd, strangely absent here. Even Dua Lipa, promoting a new album, was left out. Tones and I, still at number six, with one of the absolute biggest tracks of the year?

This could have been done so much better.

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