I’m not entirely sure what good Avril Lavigne singing “Imagine” will do for the afflicted people of Darfur. Seems like 10 seconds of that could drive plenty of people here stark raving mad, anyway.
But let it not be said that the pop tart tried: She along with 22 other artists—including U2, R.E.M., Green Day, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, the Postal Service and the Flaming Lips—have tackled a John Lennon activism classic or lesser-remembered pop nugget for a new double-disc benefit package, the self-explanatory “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.”
Don’t ask me how any of it sounds just yet—it just arrived in the mail, though right off the bat I’m more excited to hear oddball pairings than expected winners. I have no doubt the Lips will have fun with “(Just Like) Starting Over)”, and I want to say that U2’s title remake and R.E.M.‘s “#9 Dream” have been around a while. But the potential for surprise and/or hilarity out of Christina Aguilera (“Mother”), Aerosmith (“Give Peace a Chance”), Los Lonely Boys (“Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”), Big & Rich (“Nobody Told Me”), Black Eyed Peas (“Power to the People”) and Matisyahu (who I hope really makes something wild out of “Watching the Wheels”) is much too high to care about the usual suspects.
Not that those usual suspects are anything to sneeze at; this is a sprawling undertaking to say the least, despite occasional repetition of obvious selections (two takes on “Mother,” for instance, and two of “Gimme Some Truth,” albeit one that winkingly features George Harrison’s son Dhani). Indeed, in addition to the 23 cuts available in CD form, that plus an additional dozen will be available only online, including Duran Duran’s take on “Instant Karma,” Ozzy Osbourne’s version of “How?,” Deftones tackling “Jealous Guy” and a third version (in additon to Avril’s and Jack Johnson’s) of “Imagine,” this time by the ever-underrated Me’Shell Ndegeocello.
The full track listing follows. Instant Karma arrives June 12.
Disc 1: U2, “Instant Karma” R.E.M., “#9 Dream” Christina Aguilera, “Mother” Aerosmith, “Give Peace a Chance” Lenny Kravitz, “Cold Turkey” Los Lonely Boys, “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” Corinne Bailey Rae, “I’m Losing You” Jakob Dylan featuring Dhani Harrison, “Gimme Some Truth” Jackson Browne, “Oh My Love” Big & Rich, “Nobody Told Me”
Disc 2: Green Day, “Working Class Hero” Black Eyed Peas, “Power to the People” Jack Johnson, “Imagine” Snow Patrol, “Isolation” Matisyahu, “Watching the Wheels” Ben Harper, “Beautiful Boy” The Postal Service, “Grow Old With Me” Jaguares, “Gimme Some Truth” Avril Lavigne, “Imagine” The Flaming Lips, “(Just Like) Starting Over” Regina Spektor, “Real Love”
Online only: Duran Duran, “Instant Karma” Ozzy Osbourne, “How?” Deftones, “Jealous Guy” Gavin Rossdale, “Mind Games” Yellowcard, “Oh My Love” Widespread Panic, “Crippled Inside” O.A.R., “Borrowed Time” Ben Jelen, “Woman” Me’Shell Ndegeocello, “Imagine” Rocky Duwani, “Well, Well, Well” Emmanuel Jal, “Mother” The Fab Faux, “I Don’t Wanna Face It”