John Legend and Keith Urban Make Surprise Appearance at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in "Imagine" Video

Imagine all of the celebrities we were not expecting to appear at the opening ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! And, yet, here we are.

By Tierney Bricker Jul 23, 2021 2:39 PMTags
Watch: 2020 Tokyo Olympics: By the Numbers

Imagine our surprise when John Legend and Keith Urban unexpectedly appeared on our screens during the Opening Ceremony at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

That's exactly what happened on Friday, July 23, when both singers made surprise appearances during a video performance of John Lennon's "Imagine," along with Spanish performer Alejandro Sanz, Beninese singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo and the Suginami Children's Choir.

"What a beautiful group of artists to come together to celebrate the idea that we're bound together as human beings," Legend said in a behind-the-scenes video. "And this is the perfect song for us to sing together."

The virtual performance was one of The Voice singer's first major appearances since his wife Chrissy Teigen faced controversy for her resurfaced tweets that took aim at a then teenage-aged Courtney Stodden, as well as accusations of cyber-bullying from designer Michael Costello. While Teigen and Legend both denied Costello's claims, Teigen penned an open letter apologizing for her past remarks about Stodden. 

2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

To Urban, the beloved 1971 track is "just one of those songs that feels like it' always been there," Urban added. "It's almost more of a hymn than a song."

Unfortunately, "Imagine" has also become something of a pop culture gaffe in recent times.

Get to Know the U.S. Gymnasts Competing at the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympics' rendition of the iconic song gave some viewers uncomfortable flashbacks to Gal Gadot's controversial video compilation of herself and other stars, including Jimmy Fallon, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman and Jamie Dornan, covering the tune in an attempt to spread some positivity in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in March of last year. (Legend and Urban did not appear in Gadot's video, FWIW!)

"Sometimes, you know, you try and do a good deed and it's just not the right good deed," the Wonder Woman star told Vanity Fair of the backlash—with what the outlet called a smile and a shrug. "I had nothing but good intentions and it came from the best place, and I just wanted to send light and love to the world."

However, this isn't the first time "Imagine" has been performed during at the Olympics, with the track being covered by Stevie Wonder at the 1996 Atlanta Games in 1996 and by a children's choir at the 2012 London Games' Closing Ceremony. 

Latest News