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Pop Culture

John Lennon's son performed 'Imagine' for the first time after swearing he never would

"Within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time."

julian lennon, john lennon, imagine

John and Julian Lennon both performing "Imagine."

In 1971, a year after the break-up of the Beatles, John Lennon released his most important piece of music, the song “Imagine.” The song is an appeal to humanity’s better angels and urges the listener to "join us" in visualizing a world without war, hunger or greed.

The song provides a glimmer of hope in that if we can visualize a perfect world, then maybe one day it will be achievable.

Over the past 50 years, the song has become a secular hymn that can conjure hope in the aftermath of the most tragic events. The song was played by Queen at Wembley Arena after Lennon was murdered in 1980. Steve Wonder sang it at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Olympics to honor the lives of those lost at the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Neil Young played it at the 9/11 Tribute to Heroes concert.

“Imagine” is also seen as Lennon’s signature song that encapsulates his artistic persona. No small feat given the earth-shattering effect the songs he wrote with the Beatles have had on the world.


Given the song’s incredible power, Lennon’s son Julian vowed never to perform it in public. Julian has had success as a musician over the years, most notably with his 1984 hit, “Too Late for Goodbyes.” He’s also a philanthropist who has produced numerous documentaries.

The war in Ukraine pushed Julian to break his vow and he performed a beautiful rendition of “Imagine” as part of Global Citizen’s social media rally, “Stand Up For Ukraine” on April 8. The campaign is working to raise money for the war-torn country.

Julian was accompanied for the performance by guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, who is best known as the lead guitarist of the Boston rock band Extreme and a member of Rihanna's touring band.

"The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy... As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could," Lennon wrote. "So today, for the first time ever, I publicly performed my Dad’s song, IMAGINE. Why now, after all these years? — I had always said, that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘IMAGINE’ would be if it was the ‘End of the World’…But also because his lyrics reflect our collective desire for peace worldwide.

“Because within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time… The song reflects the light at the end of the tunnel, that we are all hoping for…" he continued.

“As a result of the ongoing murderous violence, millions of innocent families, have been forced to leave the comfort of their homes, to seek asylum elsewhere,” Lennon concluded his message. “I’m calling on world leaders and everyone who believes in the sentiment of IMAGINE, to stand up for refugees everywhere! Please advocate and donate from the heart. #StandUpForUkraine.”

Lennon’s decision to never play “Imagine” was a wonderful way to honor his father’s legacy by respecting the power of his song. But John would probably be proud if he knew that he sang it at a time when we all need to imagine “all the people living life in peace.”

Brandon Conway sounds remarkably like Michael Jackson when he sings.

When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.

Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.

No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.

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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)