Rush of Charity Singles, Protest Songs Hit Digital and Streaming Market

Posted July 8, 2016 by J Matthew Cobb in News

This week, several songs drop in light of recent police brutality videos, terrorist attacks and systematic racism

In response to the recent spike of gun violence stories and terrorist-like headlines dominating US & world news, a number of artists across a range of genres are reaching out with the power of song to spread hope and hopeful, poignant messages. Many of them are also shinning light on issues of hate, prejudice and instiutionalized racism.

After Beyoncé posted a dark, black-and-white message to her fans on social media regarding the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, two black men gunned down by police officers, Bey’s husband, Jay-Z, followed suit. On “Spiritual,” now available on Tidal, he raps about cross-generational trauma and heftier issues plaguing the black community. “I am not poison/I am not poison/Just a boy from the hood that/Got my hands in the air/In the spirit don’t shoot I/Just want to do good,” he raps on the three-minute track.

Chris Brown, no stranger to controversy, is jumping into the hot conversation, after being moved by the shootings of Sterling and Castile. On Instagram, Brown dedicated a new song, “My Friend,” to “anybody dealing with injustice or struggle in their lives.” It’s more of a universal love midtempo ballad, containing a warm pop melody and Brown’s usual crooning. “If I said I miss you/Would you say the same? If I said I loved you/Would you simply walk away?,” he sings.

Miguel posted a rough version of “How Many” unto his SoundCloud account. “This version was started (written/recorded) here in London in my hotel room between the hours of 4 a.m. and around 7 a.m. when i passed out,” Miguel wrote online. “I’ll update this song every week until its complete. Please feel free to share. #blacklivesmatter.” Across strange minimalist sounds and rubberband-like guitar strokes, the song features poignant lines like “How many black lives does it take to break the chain?/We can’t let them die in vain.”

In response to the Pulse Orlando massacre that claimed 49 lives and injuring close to fifty others, the LGBT media watchdog advocacy group GLAAD and Interscope Records teamed up to create an all-star charity song. “Hands” features appearances by Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo, Tyler Glenn, Selena Gomez, Halsey, Ty Herndon, Imagine Dragons, Juanes, Adam Lambert, Mary Lambert, Jennifer Lopez, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Kacey Musgraves, MNEK, Alex Newell, P!nk, Prince Royce, Nate Ruess, RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Jussie Smollett, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and Meghan Trainor.

“This senseless tragedy is a call to all of us to stand together and face down hatred, intolerance and violence…and having grown up a short drive from Orlando, it really brings it right to my doorstep,” said John Janick, Chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M. “We all know music has the power to heal, and I’m honored and grateful to be a part of whatever our business can do to help.”

“Hands” was written by Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, and Blood Pop; produced by Blood Pop, Mark Ronson, and Justin Tranter. Now available on iTunes, proceeds of the song will benefit Equality Florida, the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida and GLAAD.

Melissa Etheridge also released a moving song, “Pulse” in dedication to the victims of the Pulse Orlando tragedy. “I am human; I am love/ And my heart beats with my blood/ Love will always win/ Underneath the skin, everybody’s got a pulse,” the singer-songwriter sings. But the song’s lyrics turns a stern, pointed finger at the Pulse Orlando mass killer Omar Mateen, making the song even more personal. “Who you gonna hate now?/ When there’s no one left but you?/ Who you gonna gun down?/ If you can’t kill the truth/ That it’s inside of us/ Inside our blood/ Inside our pulse.”

All proceeds of the song sales will be donated to Equality Florida.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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