They're sending their love down the well
May 22, 2009 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Gather round the microphone, friends, put your headphones over one ear, and wave your hands in the air like you do care, very deeply. It's time to celebrate the benefit song. [MLYT] posted by DiscourseMarker (36 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Little Donny Aid
posted by stifford at 5:05 PM on May 22, 2009

Nothing says you're serious about a problem like a dramatic 3rd chorus key change.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:09 PM on May 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

30 rock - He needs a kidney
posted by jouke at 5:16 PM on May 22, 2009

You know, I'm gonna say it, I don't care who knows it -- even today I still think Sun City kicks some serious ass.

Seriously. They got Bruce Springsteen, Joey Ramone, Miles Davis, and Lou By-God Reed; in the video you've got Ruben Blades flipping off the camera and a visual jibe against The Who, and even though you do have the Industry Standard Serious-Looking Bono, a little later in the video you've got him dancing like a fool and planting a big kiss on the side of a rapper's cheek...and it isn't some maudlin sappy ballad, it's an angry, upbeat, take-no-prisoners "fuck YOU" delivered not just to the apartheid system but to fellow entertainers who are complicit in performing there and supporting the system.

I also will freely admit that I own the full album, and the rest of it holds up musically as well -- Peter Gabriel contributed an original piece, they got a supergroup of jazz musicians (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and I think they even got Gil Scott-Heron) to do one number, there's the ORIGINAL version of U2's "Silver and Gold" which Bono first wrote by himself and just recorded with him singing, Keith Richards playing guitar, and some guy keeping time by banging on a cardboard box with a two-by-four...they didn't just pay attention to the cause, they tried to also make kick-ass music as well, and dammit, I think they done right good.

...Sorry I got a little carried away. But this came out right when I was starting to get over the whole "charity supergroup" thing and I realized "hey, wait, this is also good to listen to just anyway. What a concept!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 PM on May 22, 2009 [6 favorites]

jouke, on the Crap from the Past podcast from May 19, Ron says that the 30 Rock episode was what inspired his all-benefit songs episode.

EmpressCallipygos, I heartily agree that Sun City rocks.

Also, why is Bono in every benefit group? Does he not have his own songs to write?
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:39 PM on May 22, 2009

Also, why is Bono in every benefit group? Does he not have his own songs to write?

When Bruce Springsteen inducted U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he playfully said in his speech that Bono had "one of the greatest and most endearingly naked messianic complexes in rock and roll." Plus, the height of the benefit-group era was in the 80's, when Bono hadn't quite had his self-image punctured yet (I think he started getting over himself a LITTLE in the late 90's).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 PM on May 22, 2009

And on a less serious tip, don't forget:

Musicians for Free Range Chickens (SNL Skit Transcript)

A Commercial (Dead Kennedys "USA for South Africa")

Hands Across Your Face (Ramones Parody of Hands Across America: ARE YOU IN IT?)
posted by symbioid at 5:48 PM on May 22, 2009

I think he started getting over himself a LITTLE in the late 90's

5 years after everyone else got over him.
posted by DU at 6:00 PM on May 22, 2009

Canada's answer, from 1985: Tears are Not Enough
posted by evilcolonel at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2009

Any fans of late nineties foreign teen pop, can you explain what the heck the Bravo All-Stars were about? It might just be a pretend charity video that didn't raise money. I think I see some N*Sync and Backstreet Boys, and maybe even Canadian idols the Moffatts!
posted by ALongDecember at 7:06 PM on May 22, 2009

I hate to rag on people getting together for a good cause (or hate myself a little when I do, one or the other), but I get a little cynical at the overwhelmingly self-congratulatory nature of most of these things. When the "We Are The World" crew got together, everybody ragged on Prince for being a no-show for some apparently unacceptable reason, and bloviated on about how all the other stars "checked their egos at the door"... and then I see the video and Michael Jackson has a fucking literal star filter on him. Honorable mention: Hands Across America, or should I say Ken Kragen's Hands Across America.

On the other hand, Sun City was pure awesome, and there was some comedian (forget who) who did a routine where he lipsynced all the way through "We Are The World"; the bit near the end where he's switching between Stevie Wonder and the Boss had me in stitches. Also, Michael Bolton being Michael Bolton in that free range chicken sketch on SNL.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 PM on May 22, 2009

can you explain what the heck the Bravo All-Stars were about?

I believe they were protesting the cancellation of Celebrity Poker Showdown.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:14 PM on May 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, c'mon. You're talking about taking the piss out of charity supergroups and nobody's linked to Pulp's "Bad Cover Version?"

Also, the new Jarvis album is the tits.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:41 PM on May 22, 2009

Blast from the past: a 2000 parody called "Sue All the World," by Camp Chaos.
posted by WCityMike at 7:47 PM on May 22, 2009

And, of course, we have "Weird Al" Yankovic's recent charity supergroup pastiche, "Don't Download This Song."
posted by WCityMike at 7:49 PM on May 22, 2009

(Which is especially cool given that it was animated by Bill Fuckin' Plympton and has a James Cagney White Heat reference in it.)
posted by WCityMike at 7:51 PM on May 22, 2009

Also, Band Aid revisited the "Do They Know It's Christmas" song as Band Aid 2 in 1989, and as Band Aid 20 in 2004. The '89 one is ... definitely from 1989. Seriously.
posted by WCityMike at 7:54 PM on May 22, 2009

And, there's "Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?", which went to UNICEF and is meant to be a bit of an acerbic comment on charity songs (contributors).
posted by WCityMike at 7:58 PM on May 22, 2009

Also, I don't know as you could call them charity supergroups, but in the last election, there was "American Prayer" (contributors) and "Yes We Can" (contributors).
posted by WCityMike at 8:14 PM on May 22, 2009

I have it on excellent authority that Cyndi Lauper's skin is immaculate. "So smooth, so soft" were the exact words, I think. This came from a friend who viewed the encounter as a transcendent experience in general so YMMV.

disclaimer: I liked the movie Vibes when I was an adolescent.
posted by squarehead at 8:18 PM on May 22, 2009

Also, I can't find linkage out there, but there evidently is a TMBG cover of "We are the World" out there somewhere, which must be something to hear ...
posted by WCityMike at 8:20 PM on May 22, 2009

"We Were the World", by Career Aid.
posted by WCityMike at 8:23 PM on May 22, 2009

There's also "Just Stand Up", which went to Stand Up for Cancer (er ... not a well thought-out name?), and Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" by/for Children in Need.

Also in the humor/parody category: Les Guignols de l'info's "We Fuck the World"; Married ... with Children's "We are the Old"; the closing segment of Jimmy Kimmel's "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck"; about and the last minute of Genesis' "Land of Confusion" video.

And the charity record Wikipedia article and charity singles Wikipedia category ...
posted by WCityMike at 8:50 PM on May 22, 2009

Also, anyone remember "Recurring Characters for Unity" on SNL, in response to the L.A. riots?
posted by WCityMike at 9:03 PM on May 22, 2009

Link to actual show
posted by wheelieman at 7:19 AM on May 23, 2009

Lou Reed's "Perfect Day " by/for Children in Need.

You didn't mention (from the youtube summary):
Performed by (in order of appearance): Lou Reed, Bono, Skye Edwards (from Morcheeba), David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Elton John, Sir Andrew Davis (conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra), Boyzone, Lesley Garrett, Burning Spear, Bono, Sir Thomas Allen, Brodsky Quartet, Heather Small (from M People), Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Shane MacGowan, Sheona White (BBC Young Brass Soloist of the Year 1996), Dr. John, Robert Cray, Hugh "Huey" Morgan (from Fun Lovin' Criminals), Ian Broudie (from The Lightning Seeds), Gabrielle, Evan Dando (from The Lemonheads), Courtney Pine, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Brett Anderson (from Suede), Visual Ministry Choir, Joan Armatrading, Laurie Anderson and Tom Jones.

posted by xorry at 7:28 AM on May 23, 2009

I absolutely love Sun City. Lou Reed, Run-DMC and Joey Ramone are fantastic. One of the Fat Boys is the recipient of Bono's sloppy kiss. R.I.P. Darren "Human Beat Box" Robinson
posted by porn in the woods at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2009

You know, I'm gonna say it, I don't care who knows it -- even today I still think Sun City kicks some serious ass.

You know, that album came out when I was a very impressionable teenager and I think it probably had a significant effect on shaping my political consciousness. There is no better way to reach a teenage boy than a kick ass angry rock song. I remember how I felt at the time about the world, about social justice, about Reagan, about racism. After Sun City came out, some friends and I immediately started an Amnesty International chapter at my high school. Almost everything I've done professionally and personally in my life since then feeds on that fire that was kindled as an angry teenager who was shown that people treat each other like shit and that will never be okay.

And now, watching that video, it's pretty astonishing to reflect. Apartheid ended. Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa. The United States has a motherfucking black president. It is so rare, but so sweet, when the good guys win.

And, just for the hell of it, here's Free Nelson Mandela, by the Special AKA.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:07 AM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

what more can i give
posted by coaster at 10:24 AM on May 23, 2009

And let us not forget the charity supergroup drive dedicated to that utmost of heartbreaking causes, that of trying to get Ernie to put down the duckie.
posted by WCityMike at 11:03 AM on May 23, 2009

(And getting Grover to look at the monster in the mirror. Wubba wubba wubba wubba woo woo woo.)
posted by WCityMike at 11:09 AM on May 23, 2009

....Oh dear.

I've been doing some re-watching and "whatever-happened-to" link surfing connected with Sun City -- you know, what happened to the actual Sun City, does it still exist, etc. -- and made the uncomfortable discovery that the guy who started it now owns Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

Okay, yes, sure, the geopolitical situation surrounding each casino is different, Sun City is still prosperous post-apartheid and presumably all citizens share in its wealth -- but, that song had enough of an effect on me for me to find this news vaguely distasteful, and to find the fact that I've actually been to Mohegan Sun -- to see Peter Gabriel in concert, natch -- makes me feel vaguely unclean.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:49 PM on May 23, 2009

I don't think I've listened to "Sun City" since whenever the last time I played my 7-inch single. I do remember that "hand rip" video effect from the music video, but I had forgotten how many cool people were involved with that song: Grandmaster Flash! Nona Hendryx! Afrika Bambaataa! Now, 24 years later, most people sees Little Steven and think, "Hey, it's Silvio!"
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:27 PM on May 23, 2009

and made the uncomfortable discovery that the guy who started it now owns Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

That creeped me out, too, especially considering that I was *just* there on Friday, but according to Wikipedia, anyway, that's not strictly the case. Sol Kerzner (from Sun International) was part of the company that helped the tribe develop and manage the casino, but Wikipedia says that since 2000 the Mohegan tribe has had complete control of the casino.

Still, it's very weird that this is the guy the Mohegans would hire to help them build a casino.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:50 AM on May 24, 2009

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