Over the past 10 years, the Global Citizen Festival has had something for fans of nearly every music genre.
You might be swooning to a ballad by Kacey Musgraves one moment, headbanging to Metallica the next, and then twerking to Cardi B. Each festival has featured a broad mix of artists, and everyone who attends has a set that they can’t stop replaying in their minds or returning to it on our YouTube channel.
For this year's Global Citizen Festival, Global Citizens in both New York and Accra will have a chance to enjoy sets from their favorite artists on Saturday, Sept. 24. The Global Citizen Festival: NYC lineup consists of Metallica, Charlie Puth, Jonas Brothers, MÅNESKIN, Mariah Carey, Mickey Guyton, and Rosalía, while Global Citizen Festival: Accra has Usher, Gyakie, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Stormzy, SZA, TEMS, and Uncle Waffles.
All of these performances will support the broader mission of the festival: to generate momentum from world leaders and the private sector to empower girls and women, end hunger, accelerate climate action, and end extreme poverty once and for all.
There’s nothing quite like a performance by an artist like Kendrick Lamar followed up by an inspiring call to action by an activist. The fusion of pop and policy elevates both, but we know that music is often what brings people in.
So to get you excited about what to expect this year, here are 17 of our favorite performances from the past decade of Global Citizen Festival.
1. “Love on the Brain” — Rihanna
The singer and Global Citizen issue champion serenaded Central Park from the heart with a soulful performance of the fourth single off her album Anti at Global Citizen Festival 2016 in New York City.
2. “A Sky Full of Stars” — Coldplay and Shakira
Global Citizen International Festival Curator Chris Martin brought Shakira on the shimmering stage at the Global Citizen Festival Hamburg 2017, where the audience jumped up and down as the beat dropped and added to the man-made constellation with their light-up devices.
3. “Señorita” — Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes
During Cabello’s set at Global Citizen Live in New York City in 2021, she brought on then-boyfriend Mendes for a duet of their hit single "Señorita.” The couple shared a kiss on stage that got the crowd cheering and Cabello invited the audience to sing along.
4. “Butter” — BTS
The K-pop sensations delivered a lively performance of their hit “Butter” from Seoul as part of Global Citizen Live in 2021. The group broke out into their signature dance moves in the middle of the city’s firework-illuminated empty streets.
5. “Call Out My Name” — The Weeknd
The artist created an intimate moment in the crowd of tens of thousands of people when he performed a lo-fi rendition of his R&B number at Global Citizen Festival 2018 in New York.
6. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” — Green Day
Green Day’s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong asked everyone to shine their lights “for justice” before leading the crowd in a sing-a-long to their early-aughts rock anthem at Global Citizen Festival 2017 in New York. “This ain’t no political party, man; this is a celebration,” Armstrong said.
7. “Soweto Baby” — Wizkid
The Nigerian singer brought DJ Maphorisa on stage and got the crowd jumping in a dance party for their upbeat track at Global Citizen: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg in 2018.
8. “Bodak Yellow” — Cardi B
In the rapper’s first performance since giving birth, Cardi B spit lines into a gold mic from her viral hit at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York City. Rocking a red dancing emoji-esque pants set, she reveled in the Great Lawn crowd echoing every lyric behind her.
9. “Bad Habits” — Ed Sheeran
The singer-songwriter experimented on stage with a song he hadn’t played live many times before as part of Global Citizen Live in Paris in 2021. He got the crowd roaring with looped instrumentals on a keyboard controller as he played along to the dance-pop single with his guitar.
10. “Back in Black” — Foo Fighters + AC/DC
To make the Foo Fighters’ first show in over a year special, former Nirvana drummer David Grohl brought on AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson to jam out together as part of VAX LIVE in 2021.
11. “Anybody” — Burna Boy
The Nigerian Afrobeat king turned up the vibes and had the crowd waving in unison to his hit at Global Citizen Live in New York City in 2021.
12. “Kona” — Sho Madjozi
The South African rapper introduced herself as the "Black Cinderella" before hyping the Johannesburg crowd up at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in 2018. She joined her backup dancers in electric outfits as they kept the energy high with xibelani dance, an Indigenous dance of the Tsonga women of the Limpopo province in northern South Africa.
13. “Better Man” — Eddie Vedder
Vedder brought the Soweto Gospel Choir on stage for an uplifting, drum-infused spin of the 1994 Pearl Jam hit at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100.
14. Andra Day — “I Want It All”
Day belted her heart out to a cover of the 1989 number, originally by Queen, at the Global Citizen Festival in 2017. Backup singers joined Day for her take on the song popularized during anti-apartheid protests in South Africa.
15. The Killers — “When You Were Young”
The indie stars had the crowd bopping at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in New York, as lead singer Brandon Flowers’ keyboard reverberated throughout Central Park.
16. Janet Jackson — “Made for Now”
The pop icon showed she can still bust a move and grooved with her dance crew to the Afrobeat-infused track featuring Daddy Yankee at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York. “We need more love,” Jackson said.
17. Pharrell — “Happy”
Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Usher brought feel-good energy on stage with Pharrell at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 for a performance of the neo-soul song popularized by Despicable Me 2.
Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.