Charity Singles

Over the past week, most of the (major) music sites have been posting articles about the  “We Are The World” remake.  Sure it’s a good cause, and I suppose that most of the artists that are contributing are feeling good about their contribution.  I’m not that cynical that I believe most of these artists are in for publicity.  (I usually do believe that, but when it comes to tragic circumstances, not so much.)

My problem with the sudden over-flow of charity singles is that they all suck.  The original “We Are The World” wasn’t that good either.  It was a bloated mess full of musicians singing one line.  Before the remake has anyone really thought about that song in about 20 years?  Probably not.  It’s not the classic that lots of people think it is.  

MTV has a couple of articles about Lil Wayne taking over Bob Dylan’s “classic” line.  Honestly, as a huge Bob Dylan I forgot he even sang on that song.  Before I YouTubed the original video, the only things I remember about it was  Dan Ackyroyd hanging out in the back looking like he was important, and Springsteen singing earnestly in his jean-jacket.  So as you can see, the original had a huge impact on me.  But I really could care less about Lil Wayne singing Dylan’s line, because Dylan didn’t write the song so it’s not like he could claim the line as his own.  

Even worse than “We Are the World” remake was “Stranded” – the collaboration between U2’s Bono and Edge, Rihanna, and Jay-Z.  Apparently it was written in a couple of days, and recorded in a week.  And it felt like it too.  At much as I dislike both versions of “We Are The World” at least it was somewhat catchy.  I just listened to “Stranded” for the second time, and seconds later I forgot the melody.

If you think I’m being too cynical here, perhaps I am.  The idea of charity singles is great, but Quincy Jones was behind “Thriller” – a pop masterpiece.  Yet when it came time to create a song that actually meant something, he came up with something trite and bloated.  The same goes for Bono and The Edge.  They’ve written many great songs about the troubles in Ireland, and Africa.  And when a song actually has the potential to make an impact they create one of the worst songs they’ve contributed to since 1997’s Pop.  

It’s not Christmas anymore, but this gets my vote for best charity-single ever:

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