To say I’m not a fan of charity songs is putting it lightly. It’s not just that the songs are bland, but they often seem more like promotion for the acts involved rather than promotion for the causes they are supposed to support. The biggest example is 1985’s “We Are The World,”? which, to many, is one of the worst records ever recorded. Having this song chart with other records was a major mistake since people bought other records for the actual quality.
Still, USA for Africa organizers were so happy to announce that it was one of the biggest selling singles ever. Since “We Are The World,” we’ve had more charity disasters such as “Hands Across America,”? “Voices That Care,”? and music’s most disastrous single ever, Elton John’s “England’s Rose.”? Elton John’s record, released immediately after the death of Princess Diana, came across as an exploitation of Princess Diana’s death rather than a charity single. After all, calling the song a charity record, having people buy it for that purpose, and then using those sales to promote it as a “number one hit” not only left a bad taste, but it was the only way Elton could ever score a hit at the time.
Now, Madonna enters the Charity Hall of Fame (or Shame) with “Hey You”? and when this record arrived in my email box, I really didn’t want to listen to it. Madonna’s last album, Confessions on a Dancefloor, sold over ten million copies worldwide. Her tour in support of the album was the most successful tour ever by a female artist. Her recent clothing line for H&M has been a major success, despite mixed reviews. So why does she have to do the charity gig now?
I was even more disappointed when I read that the song was produced with Pharrell Williams. He’s a good producer, but Madonna has always been ahead of the game rather than jumping on the hit bandwagon. What’s next, Madonna and Justin Timberlake? Oops! It looks like that’s already happening. Anyhow, I hesitantly gave the song a spin and was surprisingly hooked the first time.
“Hey You”? is about helping make the world a better place. She sings, “Hey you, don’t you give up/It’s not so bad, there’s still a chance for us,”? at the opening and towards the end, sings the clichA