Way back in the '80s, people liked feeling magnanimous. "I hear there are starving kids in Ethiopia." "Fuck that! We can feed people with a song!"
And thus, the idea for "We Are the World" was born. Maybe. I haven't actually talked to Lionel Richie about his motivation for coordinating the song, but I'm pretty sure he'd say something like that.
"We Are the World" was a feel-good ballad that gathered 1985's best vocalists and musicians for a circle jerk in the name of helping poor Africans. Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Sheila E., Dan Aykroyd (WTF?), Michael Jackson and his wannabe-famous brother Tito all piled into a Hollywood studio to record the anthem that presumably would free Ethiopians from hunger once and for all. On January 28, 1985, the final night of recording, God wept.
Don't you feel the emotion? I mean, look at Kenny Rogers' face at 0:47!
As glorious as "We Are the World" obviously was, it doesn't represent the quality of all charity singles. Many recent supergroups of the privileged class turned to everyone's favorite songbird Miley Cyrus to ensure success, but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough. Organizers simply didn't pay attention to the blueprint for perfection that Richie had presented, instead churning out self-serving muck that made all of us question why any of the so-called artists involved had ever left their day jobs. Thus, in honor of the 28th anniversary of the final recording day for "We Are the World" (best milestone ever), we present you five popular charity singles that sucked harder than a Hoover.
"Send It On," Disney's Friends for Change
In 2009, the Disney Channel's most omnipresent teen stars set aside their love triangles and quadrangles to sing something written by a Swedish guy. That country puts out lovely furniture, but songs? I saw the sign that said "Hell, no." That didn't matter to the kids, though, and neither did the fact that the lyrics provided to them failed to mention anything about international environmental issues -- their chosen cause. Miley, Demi, Selena and those formerly chaste Jonas boys still were thrilled to vocalize their theoretical love for the earth and then trample all over it with 38 gazillion tons of tour equipment and vehicles.
"Everybody Hurts," Helping Haiti
After a horrible earthquake devastated the Republic of Haiti in 2010, the world scrambled to send help to the country via funds, doctors and builders. Simon Cowell, on the other hand, decided that his gift would be "Everybody Hurts." Whereas the original R.E.M. song was a gorgeous, angelic symphony of hope, Cowell's version was a choppy clash of incongruent voices. Leona Lewis, James Blunt, Irish boy band Westlife and Cowell's favorite makeover project Susan Boyle completely destroyed the flow of the song, sometimes appearing only in two-second segments (like our girl Miley, who graces us at 1:43). Rod Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi made the most of the situation, but it was a lost cause. The video itself continues to make my heart swell, though.
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