This spring, a lot of high school and college graduates didn’t get the chance to walk across the stage for the symbolic final steps of their academic journeys. YouTube helped soften the blow, though, with Dear Class Of 2020, a livestream event that featured speeches and performances from recognizable faces. A few of them came together for a socially distanced performance of the U2 classic “Beautiful Day.”
The performance was produced by Finneas, and it featured vocal contributions from Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Camila Cabello, Khalid, Leon Bridges, Tove Lo, Ty Dolla Sign, Noah Cyrus, and more.
Before the performance, Bono also spoke about the meaning of the song and its relevance now, saying, “The song is not a description of where we were at. It was a prayer for where we could go, and a dream, like America is a dream of what might be. […] It’s a wild thought, that America is yet to exist. And even wilder that the class of 2020 may be the very people to bring it into being, after 244 years of striving for freedom.”
Watch the performance above, and read Bono’s full speech below.
“As an Irishman, I’ve always believed that America is not just a country: It’s an idea, it’s a dream that belongs to the whole world. Now I know in recent times, the world has been reminded that America is an idea that doesn’t even belong to a lot of Americans, and that for many Black Americans, Lady Liberty’s torch is far from a beacon of hope: It’s often a flashlight in the face.
Now there were storm clouds over Dublin when U2 recorded ‘Beautiful Day.’ Things were not as they might have been. But the song is not a description of where we were at. It was a prayer for where we could go, and a dream, like America is a dream of what might be. We now know that America is a song yet to be written, that America might be the greatest song the world has never heard. It’s a wild thought, that America is yet to exist. And even wilder that the class of 2020 may be the very people to bring it into being, after 244 years of striving for freedom — sometimes marching, sometimes protesting, sometimes on your knees, sometimes taking the knee, you get there.
I don’t know how, but I know who: you. You can vault the barricades of bigotry, and with your vote, you can dismantle institutions that uphold that bigotry and are in your way. You can enter America. you can enter America, we will all enter with you, but it’s gonna be you, and that is gonna be a beautiful day.”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.