Tech

Google employees get private Lizzo concert as they return to the office

Key Points
  • Google hired Lizzo to perform for thousands of employees to try and celebrate a return to the office.
  • In early April, the company began requiring most employees to go to a physical office at least three days a week.
  • Lizzo partnered with Google earlier this year in a Super Bowl ad for the Pixel 6 phone.
Google hires Lizzo to perform for return-to-office "celebration" among thousands of employees
Emma Wong @_emwong_

For years, Google lured people to its sprawling Silicon Valley campus with the promise of amazing perks, like gourmet meals from top chefs and massages.

Now, there's Lizzo.

Earlier this month, as Google officially started bringing employees back to the office following more than two years of pandemic-induced remote work, the company used the large Shoreline Amphitheatre near its headquarters in Mountain View, California, to host a performance by the Grammy award-winning artist.

"We've had a long two-and-a-half years of protecting others and ourselves but also being very disconnected," Lizzo told the crowd at the beginning of the show. "And now, it’ so incredible to see how connected we are right now!"

Thousands of employees attended the show. CNBC viewed images and footage of the event.

Google implemented a return-to-office policy starting in early April, requiring employees to go to physical facilities at least three days a week. Staffers pushed back on the mandate and the prospect of navigating traffic jams, after they worked efficiently for so long at home while the company enjoyed some of its fastest revenue growth of the past 15 years.

Some of that frustration could be heard in the crowd at the Lizzo concert.

Google held a concert in Mountain View as a part of its "return-to-office" celebration.
Emma Wong @_emwong_

"Oh, return to office!" one employee from the audience yelled. "Propaganda! Propaganda!" another is heard screaming from the crowd.

Google had delayed its return plans on multiple occasions, due mostly to surges in Covid-19 case numbers. But this time, the company stuck to its reopening schedule. In the early days back, employees were greeted with marching bands on campus, as well as photo booths, celebratory food and visits from prominent politicians.

"Thank you for being back!" Lizzo said. "Thank you for surviving! Google, we back, b----!!"

She made other references to the search giant during the concert.

At one point, Lizzo noted her Grammy awards and that she's mentioned in Guinness World Records. "Google it!” she said just before singing her smash hit "Truth Hurts."

She inserted the company's name into her popular song "Boys," changing the lyrics from "I heard you a freak, too" to "I heard you a freak, Google!"

Lizzo also made a reference to Google's smartphone.

Google held a concert in Mountain View as a part of its "return-to-office" celebration.
Emma Wong @_emwong_

"I know I’m not supposed to be a walking advertisement, but the Pixel!" she said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

It's not the first time this year Lizzo has hooked up with the tech giant. During the Super Bowl in February, her song "If You Love Me" was featured in a Google commercial for the Pixel 6.

"I wanted to do this concert because of the support you showed me for my new era of music," she said at the show, thanking the company for the Super Bowl spot.

She went on to play the song, and said it was the first time she'd performed it in front of a live audience.

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