While the focus the last few days has been on the 25th anniversary recording of “We Are the World” yesterday, today the Simon Cowell-orchestrated remake of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” snuck out to the internet and radio. Under the name Helping Haiti, the tune will be available for download on Feb. 7 and CD purchase on Feb. 8. All proceeds go to earthquake relief efforts. Listen here.
Interestingly, while the tune features “Britian’s Got Talent” contestant Susan Boyle and “The X Factor” winner Leona Lewis, there are no “American Idol” contestants on here—is Cowell already trying to distance himself from the show? (Jennifer Hudson, a past “AI” runner up is on “We Are the World.”)
Instead, we have a smaller, but no less bright constellation of stars than on “World,” including Mariah Carey, Jon Bon Jovi, James Blunt, James Morrison, Robbie Williams, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus (who’s on both versions), Rod Stewart and several more.
The version stays very close to the understated original musically and only swells into a tiny bit of overstatement at the end. Quite frankly, we could have done with more of the choir at the end. As much as I feared that Cowell would take one of R.E.M.’s most poignant, meaningful tunes and turn it into a melodramatic weeper, that hasn’t happened.
The link is to an audio-only version, so part of the fun is trying to figure out who is singing what. Blunt, Bon Jovi, Stewart Boyle are instantly recognizable, but not so much some of the others. What’s your opinion?