So So Gay’s theme this month is charities, and it coincides timely with one of the nation’s most prolific charities, BBC’s Children In Need, now in its thirty-first year. Every year, this highly publicised charity releases an official single to help raise funds for underprivileged children in Britain, and 2011 is no different. However, instead of releasing a fun and uptempo or a light-hearted and comedic song (see Peter Kay’s Animated All Star Band’s medley from two years ago), a more serious track has been chosen. At the helm of this project is Gary Barlow, who has taken ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack and enlisted the help of young and current urban acts to cover it, adding their own raps to it. Together, ‘The Collective’, as they are now called, have produced this lyrically thought-provoking, yet unfortunately musically disappointing song.
The song plods along with the instrumental bass drum beating like a heart and in the new lyrics, the artists speak about significant issues facing Britain’s youth today, from education and ethic morals to self-confidence and love. N-Dubz’ Tulisa Contostavlos provides vocals for the chorus (originally sung by Elizabeth Fraser) that goes ‘Love, love, is a verb/Love is a doing word/Fearless on my breath’ – at least you now know that a verb is a doing word. Labrinth, Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms Dynamite, Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder, and Wretch 32 then take turns in rapping the added verses. Gary himself however, who is the co-producer alongside Labrinth, does not lend his voice to the song.
Although we appreciate and understand the meaning in the song and the fact that it’s all in the name of charity and a good cause, we can’t help but be underwhelmed by the lack of anything that we really find interesting about it. It also begs the question as to why Gary, who is a fine songwriter in his own right, did not simply write a brand new, original song instead of trying to re-work this classic?