Children In Need Review: Pop stars cash in on TV charity telethon

Children In Need Review: Pop stars cash in on TV charity telethon

Posted On: December 2, 2011
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Children In Need 2011:
Friday the 18th November saw the BBC’s annual Children in Need telethon broadcast, aiming to highlight it’s work and raise money to keep this fantastic charity’s work going. Among the various performances and films shown were a number of musical performances – and a number of these performances highlighted a slightly disturbing practice .For the uninitiated, Children in Need is a BBC led charity, with the name synonymous with fundraising. Established in 1980 it has been a tremendous success, raising over £500 million for a range of children’s charities throughout the United Kingdom. For about 6 hours once a year in November the telethon takes over the main two BBC channels and shows short information films with celebrity appearance about the different charities supported balanced against a mix of comedy shorts, spoofs of established programs, soap-opera casts doing musical medleys and musical performances.

With a slightly pop-heavy leaning, a number of artists appeared this year throughout the night, ranging from the somewhat eye-catching Lady Ga Ga to the newly reunited “Abba on Speed” Steps. The majority of the artists had very similar commercial pop music roots. What separated some of the artists from the others though was the choice of song they performed. Not through style, or live vs recorded or quality necessarily, but over the age of the song.

Naturally, Children in Need being the fundraiser that it is and it’s television channel takeover affords it a high viewer count. Hence, musicians know that although performing for free they will get an audience who don’t normally automatically tune into their music. If a band performs a new song it’s highly possible that people watching may want to go out and acquire the track – so you’d think that the song would have it’s profits donated to Children in Need too? Sadly that is not the case. JLS, Susan Boyle, Ed Sheeran, The Saturdays and Will Young all performed new singles – literally out that week –  on the show, with the profits going straight back to the artists and management. You could argue that these artists mere appearance on the show was a big enough boon – but it does seem to smart of a cynical money-making attempt or self-worthy naivety. Why not sing the well known and famous songs? You can’t really blame Children in Need as they would have had very little say on the artists choice of song.
Whatever your musical taste may be, kudos should go to artists who performed (relatively) old songs. They may get some extra sales, but largely they’ve already made money from these songs. Whilst an amount of promotion naturally comes to famous musicians from these events – and their performances are needed by charities to help raise awareness – artists who perform older hits show they don’t need to use the charity as platform for self-promoting their work, they’re simply there to promote the charity.You can donate to Children in Need by visiting

Alex W.

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