Music News

U2 was honored last night (December 4) in Washington, D.C. during the 45th Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight and Tania León were also honored at the prestigious arts event.

A broadcast of the ceremony will air on CBS on December 28 at 8 PM and will be streamed on Paramount+.  Per multiple outlets — including NPRThe Washington Post and USA Today —  actor Sean Penn delivered a moving speech about U2. Penn touched on the band’s decades-long efforts benefiting various philanthropic efforts.

“Bono has often said that being famous is nonsense, celebrity is nonsense, but it is currency,” said Penn. “And the band has spent its currency to show the usefulness of art in the world.”

Also paying tribute to U2 was actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who appeared in character as fictional Kazak journalist Borat. In addition to performing a rendition of “With Or Without You,” Borat touched on the day’s latest headlines particularly the horrific things rapper Kanye West has said about Jewish people.

RELATED: U2 Doesn't Have a Tour on the Horizon, Larry Mullen Jr. Needs Surgery

“Kanye tried to move to Kazakhstan and we said no. He’s too antisemitic, even for us,” said Borat. The character also took aim at U2 for the infamous 2014 iTunes giveaway of their album Songs of Innocence, for which Bono has since taken full responsibility. “Please remove your wretched album from my iPhone 6 … Your band fight oppressions from around the world. Stop it!”

As for the performance portion of the U2 tribute, Eddie Vedder lead the way. The Pearl Jam frontman performed “Elevation” from the band’s 2000 album All The You Can’t Leave Behind. Before the performance, a video played featuring some of the biggest pop stars today reciting U2 lyrics. Among them were Beyonce, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Finneas.

The U2 tribute was closed out with an all-star performance of “One,” which included Vedder, Brandi Carlile, Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris, Sheryl Crow, Hozier, Diana Reeves, Bebe Winans and more. Mary J. Blige was slated to appear and perform “One” but had to back out due to illness. Blige recorded a rendition of “One” with U2 that appeared on her 2006 album The Breakthrough.


U2: Their 50 Best Songs, Ranked

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well-versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice. #TransRightsAreHumanRights