Rihanna, Chris Martin, Kendrick Lamar, Demi Lovato and more descended upon Central Park for the 2016 Global Citizen Festival

By Ale Russian
Updated September 26, 2016 11:30 AM
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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

A-listers and world leaders alike descended upon Central Park Saturday for the 2016 Global Citizen Festival – and PEOPLE had a front-row seat!

The festival, now in its fifth year, serves as a reward for thousands of volunteers and activists who work with the nonprofit Global Citizen. Once again, stars and concertgoers banded together to raise awareness in an effort to move world leaders to enact policy changes regarding women’s equality, education, health, water and sanitation, environment, finance and innovation and food and hunger.

At the festival, an impressive lineup of top-tier talent took the stage, including: Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding, Usher and Major Lazer.

In between performances, TV and movie stars – from Jada Pinkett Smith and Salma Hayek Pinault to Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman – took the stage to address the United Nations’ global goals and share moving stories.

Read on for five of the top moments of the festival.

1. Demi Lovato covered Aretha Franklin.
Performing in a silver crop-top with black thigh-high boots, Demi Lovato wowed the crowd as she belted hits like “Confident” and “Cool for the Summer.” But the real treat came when the singer covered one of Aretha Franklin’s most iconic hits.

“This next song is inspired for lifting up women even before I was born, and it goes out to all the women all around the world,” Lovato said before launching into a soaring rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

2. Usher wore a "Silence Is Consent" shirt, and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder railed against Donald Trump’s politics.
The concert that encourages people to speak out and make a change also found its talent getting political.

Early on in the day, Usher came out with the Kenyan Boys Choir and Latin-American singer Ruben Blades to perform a rendition of the song “Champions.” As the performance had everyone dancing and playing with giant beach balls released into the crowd, Usher was himself making a statement by wearing a shirt with the words “Silence is Consent” written on it.

Later in the night, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Coldplay’s Chris Martin took the stage and performed a few songs together. And before performing Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power,” Vedder reminded the crowd that the message still stands for them.

As he alluded to Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump when mentioning a “certain political candidate” who they alleged stands for “antiquated ideals” like homophobia, racism and xenophobia, Vedder told the crowd to “stay active, stay energized, use your voice, use your votes and together, we can use our power for good.”

3. Kendrick Lamar pumped up the crowd – including Olivia Wilde!
As one of the most outspoken acts in modern music, it’s no surprise that Kendrick Lamar took part of the festival. Often described as a poet and the voice of a generation, Lamar took the crowd through his biggest hits as he encouraged them to be positive and unite. The artist stayed surprising clean, omitting curses from his lyrics as he performed “Backseat Freestyle” and “i.”

Rocking along to the prolific artist was a very pregnant Olivia Wilde and fiancé Jason Sudeikis. The actress-humanitarian watched the rapper from the side of the stage after introducing his performance, jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics to songs like “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

4. Chris Martin covered Prince to stall for Rihanna.
The funniest moment of the night came late into the show when Chris Martin surprised the crowd again with a cover Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” – except this surprise wasn’t planned.

The Coldplay frontman told the crowd he was coming out to cover Prince‘s hit because Rihanna needed a few more minutes before she was ready to close out the festival. And after singing two verses, the singer had to start improvising after telling the crowd he didn’t know any more of the song’s lyrics.

And the resulting verse was as impressive as it was impromptu.

“Well, I was waiting for Rihanna in Central Park / Waiting for her to do her show /
I was assured by the producer I’d have to do one song, and I ain’t got too long to go / Maybe she’s doing her makeup or doing her hair / Or making sure that she looks nice. / And if she takes too long I’ll repeat this song / I’ll play ‘Raspberry Beret’ twice.”

5. Rihanna rocked the stage to close out the night.
After Martin’s hilarious stalling efforts, Rihanna finally took the stage to a hyped crowd waiting to hear her greatest hits. And the Barbados native did not disappoint!

Opening with a haunting rendition of “Stay,” Rihanna alternated between treating the crowd to hits and deep cuts from her eight albums, from “Pour It Up” to “Birthday Cake.” She even threw it all the way back to 2007, playing her mega-smash “Umbrella.”

The singer also went through some of her popular collaborations, including Calvin Harris’ “We Found Love,” T.I.’s “Live Your Life” and Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” before closing out the night with “Diamonds,” “FourFiveSeconds” and “Love on the Brain,” as she told the crowd that they were “killing it right now.”