Charity singles are a bit of an outdated concept. People look back on ‘We Are The World’ and ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and those endless X-Factor singles with a general outlook of “What were we thinking there?”. A collection of independently wealthy musicians championing a cause they barely understand and asking you for money, as opposed to popping in a few bob themselves, isn’t a great look.
So the Live Lounge Allstars (“Allstars”) are already at an advantage since you can’t really doubt their sincerity. Fair to assume they understand full well what’s going on, since they are stuck at home like the rest of us – on their palatial estates.
‘Times Like These’ may just break the duck of the charity single. It’s a good cover, and seems to come from a genuine place of goodwill. If there’s any criticism then that can’t outweigh the fact that this single existing is a good thing and it benefits a great cause.
Still I do have some notes here.
Like all charity singles the song suffers from bloat, with too many singers and too few lines. That’s compounded by the mish-mash of recording quality – with some singing with full mic and pop sock, and others contributing sound quality fit for a ringtone on a Nokia 3310. That adds to the charm of course; we’re all having to make do with what we have. But Yungblud, played here by a brought-to-life pencil topper, contributes his lines from the toilet. Poor Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro sounds like he’s singing from an adjacent town.
Really given Biffy’s longstanding admiration for the Foos it’s a shame he didn’t have a larger part to play, though they do provide instrumentation. Dua Lipa, Sam Fender, Celeste, Mabel, Dermot Kennedy, Dave Grohl – even Luke Hemmings of risible Five Seconds of Summer fame all sound great.
Good to see that all it took was a global pandemic to get Ellie Goulding back on the tele – ditto Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. I forgot the pair of them even existed truth be told. Anne-Marie and Jess Glynne are here since Radio 1 are legally obliged to include them in every thing they have ever done. There’s a grime verse; as there should be, since grime occupies such a chunk of the pop consciousness these days. I’d be lying if AJ Tracey provided his best: “Do something to improve not procrastinate / I’ve been cooking now make a wicked pasta bake.” Making John Barnes sound like a rap god right now.
We’re just having fun here. Considering the genuinely bleak times in which we find ourselves and the desperate struggle of key workers to keep the country running, any effort to aid the WHO’s response fund is a worthy one. When the virus has been beaten I’d love to see a reunion performance at a festival somewhere. Dave Grohl’s face on camera suggests he’s proud of the project, as he should be. ‘Times Like These’ is a very appropriate soundtrack for now.