Monday, November 03, 2008

Number 1s of 2008: November 2

Predictable enough that I'm writing this on Saturday and time-delaying it...

The X-Factor Finalists, "Hero" (2 November to date).

This is, of course, a charity single. The twelve acts who made the live shows of The X-Factor - effectively the current UK equivalent of American Idol - join forces to bash out a rudimentary cover of Mariah Carey's 1993 top ten hit in aid of injured soldiers. There doesn't seem to be an official video, so that thing above is the performance they did on the TV show. Amusingly, two of the acts are missing because, in true Spinal Tap style, the doors wouldn't open.

It's dire, of course, and dripping in syrup. Charity singles are odd things; if you stop to think about it, there isn't actually much "charity" in paying the normal retail price of a CD single, and getting a CD single in return.

The actual charity comes from the people who give up their time to make the single in the first place (and, where appropriate, from the retailers who give up their cut). Of course, in this case, the single was driven by the people behind the show rather than by the acts themselves, which complicates it all a little further. It's not as though Simon Cowell is oblivious to the power of good publicity.

From the customers' perspective, buying a charity single is really about expressing solidarity. That's what Band Aid was really about, for example, and why it was a kind of pop culture moment. With this... well, the charity almost gets overshadowed by the X-Factor brand, doesn't it?

Still, whatever the motives and however bad the product, it will raise money for a good cause. There are worse things to do with your life.

UPDATE: There's now an official video, although a rather makeshift one: