The year 1985 marked the final year of a major famine in Ethiopia that would inspire an onslaught of humanitarian efforts. Some of the primary advocates for this action were producers and artists who would spark the trend of fundraising through music. Many critics have picked apart songs-for-profit for problematic lyrics and annoying melodies. However, the releases have proven to be incredibly effective for raising awareness and aid. When some of the world’s top entertainers come together to send out a message, there is no doubt that it will be heard. Songwriters wrote or re-wrote many songs to help fight poverty. Here are the top four songs that raised money to fight poverty.
Top 4 Songs that Raised Money to Fight Poverty
- “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” This song is a benefit pop single that U.K. group Band Aid released in 1984. The band created the song in response to the rising famine in Ethiopia; the lyrics lament the stark contrast in living conditions between developed Western societies and impoverished nations during the holiday season. Several well-known British pop artists, including Phil Collins and Duran Duran, contributed to the single alongside Band Aid. The song was a major hit, raising $1.7 million within the first five minutes of its release; it has since garnered a total of $14 million in fundraising. Since then, Band Aid has rewritten and re-released the song on two occasions. The first re-release took place in 2004 to raise funds and awareness for humanitarian issues in Sudan. The second re-released in 2014 to endorse relief for the Ebola crisis. Additionally, each release of this song was incredibly popular worldwide and contributed immensely to the fight against global poverty because they simultaneously raised awareness and directed financial aid.
- “We Are The World.” USA For Africa released “We Are The World” in 1985. The charity-driven musical group, amassed by Quincy Jones, featured some of America’s most famous pop stars such as Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson. The song itself calls on listeners to come together to give to those less fortunate. It also works towards developing a better and brighter future for the world. USA For Africa spent about 12 hours recording the single in one night. Many of the musicians involved had just participated in the American Music Awards that same evening, but Jones advised them to check their egos at the door. In addition, Jones encouraged them to record the song in casual attire. The song raised more than $63 million to aid impoverished populations in Africa. Moreover, it was America’s fastest-selling pop single at the time of its release.
- “Stars.” This song by Hear N’ Aid brought a new genre of music to the rising trend of hit charity singles upon its release in 1985. A group of 40 heavy metal musicians, including Rob Halford and Ted Nugent, gathered to attempt their rendition of a philanthropic ballad for a good cause. The metal song carries similar themes to those in “We Are The World,” emphasizing togetherness and the importance of acknowledging less privileged nations. While not as financially successful as its predecessor, “Stars” did harbor nearly $1 million in global famine relief. For what it lacked in monetary profit, it compensated with the sheer number of renowned rock n’ roll artists that participated in its creation, staking a major milestone in music history.
- “Tears Are Not Enough.” This was a charity single also released in 1985 by a supergroup of more than 50 of Canada’s top entertainers. Originally, David Foster crafted the tune for the soundtrack of St. Elmo’s Fire. However, the film’s director rejected the song, so Foster revamped the lyrics for charity. The song would serve as Canada’s contribution to USA For Africa’s “We Are The World” album. Additionally, it featured artists such as Joni Mitchell and Anne Murray. The lyrics of this song invite listeners to come together to fight global poverty and it has become a humanitarian hit. Furthermore, it achieves triple-platinum status and raises $3.2 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Considering the amount of aid that each of these songs has garnered, charity fundraising through music has the potential to make great waves in philanthropy. The key to making change happen is raising awareness for the issue at hand. When world-famous voices speak out for a good cause, listeners across the planet will inevitably feel moved to take action. Since the release of these four songs that raised money to fight poverty, the world has undoubtedly opened its eyes and ears to better acknowledge. It helps develop impoverished civilizations such as Ethiopia.
– Harley Goebel