Five Questionable Musical Tributes To Nelson Mandela

As recognized by the United Nations, today is Mandela Day, honoring the birthday of the beloved South African president, humanitarian, and all-around badass Nelson Mandela, who turns 93. Mandela is a living legend, leader, hero and inspiration on par with Gandhi, FDR, and Ted "Theodore" Logan. His quest for equality and peace has made him an icon for non-douchebaggery the world over, and we are unlikely to see his better any time soon.

It's only appropriate that a man like Mandela should receive accolades from a variety of musical sources, but frankly, Rocks Off think the man has by gypped harder than an Enron stockholder. Surely he deserves better than...

Nickelback, "If Everyone Cared"

"If Everyone Cared" pays tribute in its official music video to many great people who have worked for the betterment of mankind, including Bob Geldof, Betty Williams and (of course) Mandela. We get treated to epic footage of these world-changing activists over the band looking very serious in the studio. Frankly, the whole thing sounds like that one stoned friend we all have who tries to come across so connected to the world but will step over a homeless man on the way to McDonalds.

At least Nickelback donated the songs digital sales to Amnesty International, proving that even if the band is shallow and talentless, at least they are not hypocritical. It's still a terrible song, though. If everyone in the world loved each other like you love your girl, the world would be a better place? Is this the same girl you previously sung about making give you road head?

Stevie Wonder, "I Just Called to Say I Love You"

Though the song is not in any way about Nelson Mandela (we think), Wonder dedicated his 1985 Best Original Song Oscar win for the song to the then-jailed leader. That's sweet, but seriously, this is one of the worst songs Wonder ever wrote. To prove it, we'd like to quote Jack Black in High Fidelity.

Top 5 musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the '80s and '90s. Go. Sub-question: Is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter-day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?

It is in fact tacky, sentimental crap. Mandela might as well have had Taylor Swift's "Mine" dedicated to him.

Whitney Houston, "He/I Believe"

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Houston sang this medley of songs at Freedom Fest, which honored Mandela on his 70th birthday. At that time, Houston was an artist who had helped African-American women break into MTV, and who was coming off some truly spectacular vocal work.

Her career continued to soar, but let's face it; Houston has fallen pretty hard since then. It's not exactly a testament to the human spirit to lace marijuana with crack. She continues to sell millions of records, but her concert performances have become pretty sad affairs.

U2/Beyonce, "American Prayer"

Bono is like Bob Geldof to us, in that we recognize all that he has done in the name of helping people worldwide, but whom we personally hate. In Geldof's case, we hate him for being mean to Michael Hutchence. In Bono's case, it's because he still pretends like he has any idea how to write songs.

Take for instance, his collaboration with Beyonce on "American Prayer." We hate to be the raging anti-nationalist in the room, but this is a country where a leading candidate for the Republican nomination just said that he thinks its OK to ban mosques. Yeah, we're the guiding light of freedom here, folks. Also, it has the line "turn off the dark" in it, which apparently was so awesome that it had to be used to kill Spider-Man on Broadway.

Hugh Masekela, "Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)"

You know, we were going to go on a rant here about world-music/funk/soul/jazz songs and how we really didn't think much of that kind of music. However, as soon as we started playing Hugh Masekela's 1987 hit, our two-year-old insisted that we stop typing and instead come do a twirly dance with her for the duration of the song.

So Mr. Masekela gets a pass in the name of sweet childhood innocence.

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