Star-Studded Charity Songs – Laser Time #367

They said we couldn’t cram over 100 of the greatest artists in musical history into a hour long show focused on songs that have sold over 50 million copies combined. They were WRONG. Of course, to do so we had to cheat a little with some of the least timely tunes every recorded: Charity Singles! Yes, pappy though they may be, this faded craze from the 1980s broke dozens of sales records, gave people heaping handfuls of their favorite musicians at one low price, and oh yeah, raised a ton of money for good causes. Feel free to listen to this cornball episode of Laser Time with your eyes closed, looking towards the sky, with one hand over your headphones…


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13 thoughts on “Star-Studded Charity Songs – Laser Time #367

  1. These were all great! The Snl skits were always a favorite between my cousins and me especially David spade doing Kurt Cobain.
    I’d like to suggest Hands Across America as well. (Which was something for the longest time I thought the Simpsons had made up but was an event that actually happend!)

    1. It is! Okay, here’s a bit of info about it.

      As with We Are the World, this was also filmed on a single day in a single place. The song was written by David Foster and Bryan Adams, and the ‘making of’ video used to get shown on CBC regularly. One particular highlight was Platinum Blonde (pseudo-hair band of the day) showing up in a stretch limo for this Ethiopian benefit gig. Totally clueless.

      Anyway, fantastic episode and “Steve Perry looks like Snooki” is the funniest 5 words I’ve heard in 2019 so far.

  2. How can you possibly have left out the 30 Rock spoof, Kidney Now! When I was in high school, the big celebrity sing along was Voices That Care to show support to troops during the first Gulf War. I remember we sang it in choir and it was like We Are The World’s annoying little shit brother.

  3. I always liked the What’s Going On Remake…particularly the 9/11 video version MTV played…it was a little surreal…it’s interesting how it was/is an AIDS day song but after 9/11 transformed into something more. Didn’t particularly care for the “real” video once it was released.

  4. Regarding Live Aid, the event took place in 1985, but Mercury didn’t pass away until 1991. The new film makes it seem like Queen performed and then he went and died soon after. They actually toured Europe in 1986, which ended up being Mercury’s last, and released three albums before Mercury passed with a posthumous release following in 1995.

  5. Wasn’t sure about the topic, but that was a lot of fun.

    Two others that weren’t mentioned spring to mind.

    There was a cover of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day that I think was originally recorded as a BBC promo around 1997/98 that was later released as a charity single and became a HUUUUUUGE mega hit in the UK. Every line was sung by a different singer – a lot are singers who aren’t especially famous outside the UK, but there are a few big hitters like Reed himself, Bowie, Elton John and yes, Bono. It’s mainly amusing because a) Perfect Day is pretty clearly a song about heroin addiction which went completely over everyone’s heads and b) they let an opera singer do one of the lines and her belting out “I’m glad I spent it with you” is never not funny – I remember it being much imitated even at the time.

    There was also a rerecording of Band Aid/Do They Know its Christmas around 2003/04 that is probably only notable because Dizzy Rascal does little interstitial rap bits that feel really charmingly out of place.

  6. I’m am both surprised and completely understand that you skipped over one of the last huge All-Star Charity Singles. Namely, because it featured mainly Canadian Artists and was probably only a hit in Canada. That said, you probably have heard it. It was supporting the Relief Efforts of the 2010 Hatian Earthquake, and was called Waving Flag by Young Artists for Haiti. The song was actually a cover, with the mastermind behind the original song being Somalian-Canadian Rapper K’naan, who recorded a solo version a few years beforehand.

    Some of the performers include Nelly Fertado, Avril Lavigne, Drake, Pierre Bouvier from Simple Plan, Deryck Whibley from Sum 41, Tyler Connolly from Theory of a Deadman, Michael Buble, Drake, and of course, Justin Beiber. It was inescapable if you lived in Canada in 2010, and yet it managed to raise only somewhere north of $1 million.

    A few months later, the World Cup was in swing, and Coca-Cola decided to use the original, non-charity version of the song with only K’naan performing, as the song of their advertising campaign, and became unofficial anthem for the games. From there on the original version became a hit across Europe and the other Eurovision countries, Brazil, and got decent airplay in the US.

  7. Getting to this a whole week late (my job changed and I don’t get to listen to pods at work anymore). My favorite story about any of these is Live Aid-related: at some point after it was already going to be the biggest concert ever, Geldof started announcing and advertising people before he’d approached them, because who the fuck’s ever going to say “no” to the biggest concert in history for a worthy cause? As it turns out, Tears For Fears were the kind of people who would say ‘no’ because (a) it was their only Saturday without a concert for six months and they really wanted to spend that day with their families and (b) they correctly came to the conclusion that the show had gotten so big by this point that they couldn’t bring anything extra to the show.

    I’m also still bitter that Steve Perry’s song from the “We Are the World” album has never been reissued or released to digital, because “If Only For The Moment” might be my all time greatest shame song.

  8. I believe that We Are the World is the definitive dividing line between Gen X and Millenials. I fall at the very debatable end of Gen X. I completely thought that we could do a bunch of coke and sing a song and totally solve the world’s problems. My millennial husband thinks this is the craziest think I sincerely believe. Especially if Bob Dyland was involved.

    I also believed in hands across america.

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