First Hit #1: January 18, 1986
I don’t know why, but I’m surprised that That’s What Friends Are For wasn’t written as a charity single. It is a bit sentimental, and the theme of counting on someone else is appropriate for that particular purpose. But no, it was written as a song for the Night Shift soundtrack, and covered by Dionne Warwick and her very famous friends (Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Elton John) in order to benefit AIDS research.
Probably the biggest stamp on the single is Wonder, actually, given that his distinctive harmonica leads the track and gives it its most identifiable element. Everyone else is obviously an accomplished singer, but they don’t quite give the song their own distinct stamp – if only because everyone’s switching out verses. The many different voices do enhance the song however – it sounds like a group of friends, which fits the themes better – and the song overall is highly appropriate for the purpose. Yeah, it’s sentimental, maybe even skirting the line towards cheesy, but it exists to give support – both monetary and financially – to people with AIDS, so I can’t dock it any points for this. It’s a good charity single, and I can give those a bit more leeway when it comes to going highly sentimental.