Activists, artists unite to sing against Darfur crisis

Ariel Galura

Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur unites some of the world’s leading artists to fight against the crisis in Darfur. The double album filled with artists like U2, Aerosmith, Ben Harper, Green Day, Matisyahu, Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas covering songs from John Lennon’s solo career, is more than just a record devoted to save human rights in Darfur. The songs enable the listener to feel the pain and suffering taking place hundreds and thousands of miles away across the globe.

With Lennon’s songs dealing with issues such as peace, racism, and war, it’s only obvious why the Amnesty International Campaign chose Lennon, along with these particular songs to be reinterpreted by some of today’s leading artists, and we can only be thankful that Yoko Ono has allowed Lennon’s work to be altered for a meaningful cause, to sing out for human rights and to “imagine all of us living in peace.”

Many of the artists, already known as individuals who have musically taken part in activism through their previous music, bring Lennon’s work back to life. R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe is almost flawless in covering Lennon’s “#9 Dream,” in that Stipe’s voice could not have been more perfect for the song. One of Hip Hop’s leading groups, the Black Eyed Peas create a heart touching rendition of “Power to the People” using a gospel choir. While never bringing out their rhyming skills or usual hip hop flare, the group keeps it calm from beginning to end.

Both Avril Lavigne and Jack Johnson cover the infamous hit song “Imagine” on two different tracks, but both artists present nothing new with their interpretations. While the lyrics of “Imagine” stand out as the main message and theme for the record, it is only evident that “Imagine” will always remain as a powerful and touching classic. Listeners will also find that having the track be covered twice by two different artists is also pointless, as other Lennon classics could have been easily substituted.

Ben Harper, U2, and Cristina Aguilera go on to recreate Lennon’s songs that would easily satisfy Lennon himself, as his own words and music continue to make a difference in today’s world. One track that hits home is Green Day’s cover of “Working Class Hero,” a powerful track that compliments Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice, while allowing him to add his touch of punk that only enhances such words as “When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear, a working class hero is something to be.”

Overall, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign does more than bring together some of today’s leading artists to unite for human rights, the album opens the listener’s ears to Lennon’s work and powerful lyrics that are both so strong and touching, lyrics that help fight for innocent victims suffering, such as those in Darfur.