The rise and fall of the charity megasingle.

What Spawned, and Killed, the Charity Megasingle?

What Spawned, and Killed, the Charity Megasingle?

Half a century of pop-chart history.
July 28 2017 1:45 PM

Hit Parade: The Charity Megasingle Edition

In the mid-1980s, big, loud, multicelebrity pop songs were briefly all over the charts and the radio. How’d that happen?

Hit Parade-170728
Concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith, Bono, Paul McCartney, and Freddie Mercury performing at Wembley Stadium.

Neil Leifer/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 4 of Slate’s Hit Parade:

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In the mid-1980s, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and “We Are the World” gathered dozens of the biggest stars in music to put on a show for a good cause. The two songs spawned imitators, but today, the charity megasingle is a relic of pop music’s past, except around the holidays. This month, we examine how good intentions, pique, excess, and vanity led to the rise and fall of the do-gooder celebrity pop song.