The healing power of pop music was on full rhapsodic display Sunday, when Ariana Grande and a gaggle of her pop star BFFs performed in Manchester, a city still licking its collective wounds from a brutal terrorist attack.
For Grande, it was personal. The attack took place at her concert and many, if not all of the victims were her fans. But that didn’t stop the city from showing up to an even bigger Grande concert weeks later. It was a remarkable act of defiance in the face of fear, and probably not what the terrorists had hoped to achieve with their callous act of aggression.
After blazing through a Miley Cyrus-assisted duet of the Crowded House anthem “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” Grande told those in attendance that their unity was “the medicine the world needs right now.”
And that’s exactly what Sunday felt like. For a world very much in pain, watching the likes of Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Chris Martin and yes, even Justin Bieber perform their most aspirational hits was palliative.
The One Love Manchester event was a figurative representation of pop music’s soothing effect in times of tragedy. Its unifying powers, and its ability to uplift can soften the most hardened cynics.
But was it panacea? Though the pop world rallied around Grande, Britain was contending with the aftermath of another terrorist attack that took place just days later.
On Tuesday, Grande decided take another step by officially releasing the rousing rendition of “Somehwere Over The Rainbow” which she sang to close out Sunday’s concert. In the grand tradition of the benefit song, all proceeds will go to the families of the 22 people that lost their lives and the other 59 that were injured. That’s on top of the millions of dollars that the event itself fundraised.
In fact, Grande’s impact on Manchester was so profound, that thousands of people are calling for her to be granted a Freedom of the City. “Ariana Grande has inspired people up and down the country with her selfless acts of kindness,” reads a petition on Change.org. “She didn’t need to return to Manchester (after all she was a victim herself) but tonight she did and brought the nation to tears and for that I feel she should be granted Freedom of the City of Manchester.”
Togetherness is vital, love is vital, and Grande’s song provides a lot of both. We have yet to see if it’s enough but it’s more or less the most pop music can do.
Listen to her official cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” below.