Oh no.

One of the side effects of the first Band Aid single was that every tragedy had an associated charity single. There are two rationales for any charity single – raise awareness and raise money. In general it’s hard to get too upset about them, even if they are wretched (and this is going to be wretched) – they bring charities money that almost certainly wouldn’t have been donated otherwise.

But in this case it really is hard to see the point. Is it raising awareness of the Asian Earthquake? Hardly – it’s led almost every news bulletin for a week. Is it raising more money? There’s the nub of it – staggering amounts of money are already being donated. Even assuming that the record company releasing this waives all production and distribution costs and donates the full £3.99 to charity, the existence of this record is based on one assumption: that somebody with £4 to spare will not donate it to the DEC unless incentivised by a record featuring Cliff Richard and Boy George and written by Mike Read. If said somebodies do in fact exist, they need their heads examined.

It’s sadly obvious that staggering, eye-popping amounts of money are precisely what is needed here. Which surely means that anyone wanting to help should be asking quite carefully what they can most effectively do. Britain doesn’t need another charity single, especially for a situation like this where those affected will still need money in 1, 10, 20 years, when copies of “Grief Never Grows Old” are mouldering in landfills and charity shops. It seems to me that there is a very simple way for a pop star to make a long-term contribution: take a song, a new song or an old song but ideally a good one, and sign over all future royalties to a charity. It would mean giving up money, but money the star doesn’t have yet, and it doesn’t mean producing more bloody CDs so that everyone involved can feel self-satisfied when it gets to No.1. Or if you must show you care by getting product out, take a new song that people might actually want to buy in the normal run of things and give that to a charity album (a la War Child but without the shonky remixes).

But we’ll never know. This single will come out, and sell a lot, and the unspoken assumption will be – as ever – that the money raised wouldn’t have found its way to the charity anyway. And I’ll feel a bit guilty for hating it. And people won’t ask if charity singles are the best way of raising money pop stars have, and they won’t ask why pop stars only seem to talk about charity when there’s a bit of plastic at the end of it.