John Legend and Keith Urban Give Behind-the-Scenes Look at Opening Ceremony 'Imagine' Performance
John Legend and Keith Urban were part of a surprise pre-recorded performance of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic song at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony
In a surprise, pre-recorded appearance, Legend and Urban, along with Angélique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz and the Suginami Junior Chorus, performed John Lennon and Yoko Ono's song "Imagine" towards the end of Friday's ceremony.
On Saturday, the Voice judge, 42, shared a video documenting his preparations for the performance and reflecting on the significance of the song.
"I love the song 'Imagine' and I know how much this song means to so many people around the world and I feel like it's been a part of my life since I can remember being exposed to music," he said in the clip.
He continued, "It's such a canonical song and it's become somewhat of a modern-day hymn, a standard, a song that's not religious but it espouses almost a religious idea of unity and love and peace among all people no matter their creed or their color or where they live or their socioeconomic status."
"It's a utopian song, it's an idealistic song, a song about dreaming of a better world. It's hard to actually imagine it being real but it's a powerful thing to aspire to," Legend concluded.
The musician shared a similar message in the caption alongside the video, writing, "'Imagine' is a timeless, beautiful song for all those who have the audacity to dream for a better world--a world where our shared humanity defines us and our love for each other binds us and impels us to fight for peace and justice."
"It's a song we still need in this moment and I'm honored to have performed it with the incredible Angelique Kidjo, Alejandro Sanz, Keith Urban, Hans Zimmer and the Japanese Children's Choir," he added.
In his own behind-the-scenes video, Urban, 53, echoed Legend's sentiment about "Imagine" being like a hymn.
"It's one of those songs that feels like it's just always been there, sort of like a spiritual classic. It's almost more of a hymn than a song," he said. "Even if you don't speak English and you don't know what's being said in 'Imagine,' you can feel it. You can feel that song."
Shortly before the ceremony on Friday, Ono, 88, tweeted about the song she wrote with her late husband.
"IMAGINE. John and I were both artists and we were living together, so we inspired each other. The song 'Imagine' embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still we are together," wrote the Tokyo-born Ono.
The song's message of unity and peace comes as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the Summer Games to be postponed by a year. In addition, the host country has faced immense criticism from local residents regarding the continuation of the Olympics amid a rise in cases.
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