The tragedy caused by the Haiti earthquake has led to a resurgence of a pop culture phenomenon we've seen far less of in recent years - the charity single. Last year's American Idol winner Kris Allen got in the act last night with a stirring rendition of "Let It Be," along with video footage of his trip to Haiti, with proceeds going to benefit Haiti relief efforts. They also announced the return of Idol Gives Back on April 21st, raising money for a variety of charities.
We've also seen the return of one of the classic charity singles, "We Are The World," updated with new artists for 2010, as well as a cover version of "Everybody Hurts" put together by American Idol producer Simon Cowell with a more European-flavored collection of artists.
There was also the excellent Hope For Haiti concert featuring artists like Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Taylor Swift and many others.
The recent return of the charity single seems focused more around covers than original songs. An article on MTV.com theorized that this is because of a more cynical attitude on the part of the public when it comes to celebrities earnestly singing about the world's problems.
Another reason for the resurgence of the charity song seems likely to be technology. With the ease of donating online or via text message, as well as being able to purchase a song with the click of a mouse through iTunes or a site like Amazon's MP3 store, there's less of a barrier than ever between reaching people wanting to give to a cause they care about and actually doing it.
[Note: Unfortunately, it looks like they're having some technical difficulties, as the Web site's link to Kris Allen's "Let It Be" single on iTunes currently takes you to an American Idol page with performances from the top 24, but no charity single. You can still donate on American Idol's Idol Aid Web site.]
Related Story: Haiti earthquake relief resources