dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Does Everybody Hate "Everybody Hurts"?

No shock here—Simon Cowell's all-star Helping Haiti charity single "Everybody Hurts" sold about 453,000 copies to land at #1 on the official UK singles chart. The R.E.M. cover was added to U.S. iTunes on Friday, around the time the new version of "We Are The World" was made available.

And over the past few weeks, "Everybody Hurts" really has proven to be a polarizing choice of song for the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. In his piece for The Quietus titled "Why 'Everybody Hurts' Is The Last Thing Haiti Needs," Jude Rogers writes the following:
"A humanitarian disaster of unimaginable proportions has hit a country long buckling from centuries of corruption and poverty. And what is pop’s response? Everybody hurts. It’s not just you, poor, things. We poor creatures hurt too. 'When the day is long'–hey, we sympathise, those aftershocks must be a right bitch, especially when you don’t know when they’re going to bury your family home deeper in debris – and 'the night is yours alone'–especially when your wife and children are dead, and you haven’t got any food or water, that must be a right bummer – well, 'hang on'. That’s what pop says: 'hang on'. The temerity of that lyrical twist, its jaw-dropping tastelessness, telling people that have had to hang on already, forever, to just bolster their spirits in the face of devastation—a state unknown to pop stars who wouldn’t piss in a bottle for less than ten grand–makes it pop’s grimmest moment of all time...

It gets worse. The message of 'Everybody Hurts' is now being placed on the same plain as the lyrics to 'Do They Know It’s Christmas?', effectively demoting Bill Berry and Michael Stipe’s subtle skills to the school of Midge Ure–a man who didn’t notice the “clanging chimes of doom” in Bono’s sickening line, “Tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you”. The media have also been happy to comply in this process, asking Rod Stewart and James Morrison if 'Simon' had asked them do this personally, as if Cowell was God, deigning to descend from his heavenly Mr Topper’s barber chair.”
Meanwhile, here's the somewhat unusual praise the Huffington Post lavished upon the charity single today:
"When megaproducer Simon Cowell brings in all-stars to sing R.E.M.'s Everybody Hurts for Haitian relief, you know the song will be heart-rending. But four minutes and twenty seconds into the official video, it becomes more than that. It becomes an image of pure love."
Personally, I've kept pretty mum on it all, mostly because I feel sort of indifferent as to whether or not the lyrics are appropriate or not. Is it schlocky? Hell yes. What did anyone expect from Simon Cowell & Co.?

I don't know. Maybe my cynicism is dwindling. Or maybe I used it all up when writing about "We Are The World" the other day, a cover version equally as low-rent, musically—but one which, like "Everybody Hurts," was at least concocted with seemingly good intentions in mind.

In the end, everyone will forget they ever downloaded "Everybody Hurts" and "We Are The World" as time goes by. And on some Friday afternoon in the not-so-distant future, when either one pops up randomly on shuffle while you're on a leisurely stroll or driving down the freeway, you'll wince and skip ahead—and maybe even delete the song from your library.

Oh, well. Hopefully part of the buck you dropped actually winds up—as the title implies—helping Haiti.

The U.K. Top 10:

1. "Everybody Hurts" - Helping Haiti *new* *1 week*
2. "Fireflies" - Owl City
3. "If We Ever Meet Again" - Timbaland feat. Katy Perry
4. "Empire State Of Mind (Part II)" - Alicia Keys
5. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Glee Cast
6. "Starstrukk" - 3OH!3 feat. Katy Perry
7. "One Shot" - JLS
8. "Replay" - Iyaz
9. "Halo/Walking On Sunshine" - Glee Cast
10. "Rude Boy" - Rihanna

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