Eddie Vedder Performs "One"; Beyonce, Styles, Penn & Cohen Honor U2

Though the ceremony was held earlier this month, CBS aired the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors broadcast on Wednesday night, and it proved to be even more impressively entertaining than we were expecting it to be. This year's honorees included actor & filmmaker George Clooney, contemporary Christian pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant, the legendary singer of soul, gospel, R&B & pop Gladys Knight, and Cuban-born American composer, conductor & educator Tania León. But it was the tribute to U2 (Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen Jr.) that had us the most excited, and it did not disappoint. From an intro video narrated by Beyonce & Harry Styles and personal presentations from Sean Penn & Sacha Baron Cohen to an amazing cover of "Walk On" from Hozier, Jamala & Brandi Carlile, the band was more than given its due, and you could tell they appreciated it. But the showstopper? Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder performed "Elevation," "With or Without You," and more, honoring the influential band while making the songs his own just enough to signal how much the band has meant to him as an artist.

Photo: Mary Kouw/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Mary Kouw/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Here's a look at Vedder performing "One" to give you a sense of what the night was like, followed by some other highlights from the evening:

And here's a look at how things kicked off, including a tribute video narrated by Styles and Beyonce, followed by a look/listen at what Penn had to say about the legendary band:


Cohen's Borat returned to the spotlight during a tribute to the band, and the pride of Kazakhstan didn't waste time going at Donald Trump, Kanye West, the growing tide of antisemitism in the U.S., and even U2's 2014 iTunes debacle. And the one non-Borat part of all of it that was the most impressive was how much President Joe Biden & First Lady Jill Biden were enjoying it. It's nice having folks in The White House with a sense of humor (even with a segment that ended with Cohen's Borat saying to the President and First Lady: "It is my wish to pleasure you with by mouth"). Here are some of the highlights:

Image: 20th Century Fox, SNL Screencaps

Borat "Confusing" Biden with Trump: "I am told the president of U.S. today is here. Where are you Mr. Trump? You don't look so good. Where has your blown-ass big belly gone? And your pretty orange skin without fail?" / "I see you have a new wife. Whoa whoa whooo wha! She is very erotic!" (referencing Jill Biden)

Borat Drops a Nice Trump Election Nonsense/Antisemitism One-Two Combo: "I must say I'm very upset about the antisemitism in the U.S. today. It's not fair. Kazakhstan is the number one Jew-crushing nation. Stop stealing our hobby. Stop the steal. Stop the steal."

Borat Reveals Kanye Tried Moving to Kazakhstan: "Your Kayne. He tried to move to Kazakhstan and even tried to change his name to Kazakhstan-ye West. But we said no. He's too anti-semitic even for us."

Borat Wants Us Never to Forget… When U2 ("Me Too") Forced Their Album on iTunes Customers: "It translates to mean 'Please remove your wretched album from my new iPhone 6'" (Borat reading a letter from his parents to the band).

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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