Monday 15th February 2010, 16:29
The all-star cover version has always been a popular choice for charities. Only this month, a new version of We Are The World is being released. Mary J Blige alone has featured in Just Stand Up (against cancer), We Are The World 25 (for Haiti), What's Going On (against Aids)...
So now there's Everybody Hurts for Helping Haiti - a some-star, some-I've-never-heard-of cover verstion. All fundraising is of course admirable, but that doesn't mean that the product is immune from all criticism. So let's look at it.
21 performers. 7 of them involved in some way with The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent (1 judge, 3 winners, 3 runners-up). So that's a third of the singers from Simon Cowell's shows. I'm surprised they didn't find a way to get Louis Walsh singing one of the lines.
It's a good song, although not the beltiest of choices. None of the artists excels in the way that Sonia did with her "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you!" Classic.
Instead we get the likes of JLS (who are apparently a popular beat combo of the day) rubbing shoulders with I-think-it's-a-man Mika and two of everyone's top 4 (or 5?) members of Westlife, Shane Filan and Mark Feehily. Susan Boyle of course gets a good couple of lines, and looking at the video - and I don't know if anyone's noticed this - have you noticed that she's not exactly a looker? This has not been well documented, I know. I get the impression that SuBo is a bit like the Queen - she milled around the studio, didn't recognise or know any of the other famous people, had never heard of the REM song she was singing, then went home to her vast array of pets.
So you've got to feel for Steve Brookstein. And Shayne Ward and Leon Jackson - all X Factor winners but while Leona, Alexandra and Joe have all gone on to international promotion (if not acclaim), the only stars that Steve, Shayne and Leon are likely to see are on their name-badge if they succeed in 6 months good customer service in McDonalds.
Granted, Leona Lewis has a voice on her. Her cover versions of Run and Stop Crying Your Heart Out are excellent, but it makes you think that her big secret is to just give a soul performance of an indie classic. Can't wait for her gutsy versions of Country House and Sorted For Es & Whizz.
As for the others, Michael Buble stands out for his distinctive voice, and for the fact that while everyone else in the studio was all pop, Mr Buble (one half of the former kids party clown double act, Buble & Squeak) stood all alone in the jazz corner, wishing as he always does that he had a career in the 40s and not now. Not that he wishes he could have sung with the Rat Pack, it's more that he hates the emancipation of women and ethnic minorities. Can't stand 'em.
And James Morrison. He's a lucky boy to be included. Cowell must have had a toss-up between him and calling Steve Brookstein, but Brooky was probably backed up on Happy Meals when Cowell phoned up, so Morrison got the job.
I'm being harsh, but largely because of what I heard James Morrison say when he heard from Cowell. He said that when he saw the devastation of Haiti, he didn't know how to respond. Should he donate money? (Yes...) Or should he do a fundraising gig for Haiti? (Again, that would have been a good idea...) But then the call from Cowell came, and he thought, yes, that's the one for me. (But you could still give money AND put on a fundraising gig too as well as the option that costs you the least time, money and effort, and in fact will serve to boost your career...) James Morrison - what a James Blunt.
That said, it's not a bad song they've produced, and it's a good cause. I just hope Steve Brookstein's thinking the same thing.