“Twenty-five years ago, we recorded We Are the World to help Africa. Now it’s time to help Haiti”
Thus begins the introduction to this remake by legendary trumpeter and producer Quincy Jones, and Grammy Award winner Lionel Ritchie of the classic We Are The World song first recorded in 1985 to aid relief efforts in parts of Africa (not all of Africa). From the first chords in this new track to the first shot on the screen, be prepared to be re-introduced to the same magical emotions that defined the first version of the song. There are more participants, the vocals are wide in range, and very endearing; and for good reason, the writers have removed and re-written the utterly useless phrase from the first version of the song that read “As God has shown us/by turning stone to bread” – since God never turned stone to bread in any known text of the scriptures anyway.
But here’s the caveat: Please, I beg of you, when you watch the video, do NOT see it beyond the 5.50 time mark. Much of everything else from there falls downhill into the category of “What in the World!”. For me it was such a disappointing buzz-kill, and for a long time after seeing it, I was in a burning rage that dominated my first series of tweets in response to the video. It was from a kind of shock, I guess, that I could not immediately place. How could a song with so much resources and potential at eliciting genuine empathy bungle such a great chance on conformity to popular culture. Now I’ve realized that it was from too much expectation, on my part, and perhaps from too much holding on to the solemn standard of the 1985 version. I shouldn’t spoil it for you then, so maybe you should watch it and make up your mind. But beside that, and beside the quite abrupt ending, everything else seems fine, and much of the video quite enjoyable.
Look out for great vocals from Jenifer Hudson, Celine Dion, Lil Wayne, Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, Barbra Streisand, Toni Braxton, and (of course) Michael Jackson. I especially liked the parts sung in Haitian creole, and I wished that part was longer. It is also doubly memorable for having been recorded in the exact same studio where the first version was recorded in 1985.
PS: In spite of my rants above, I still do love the song, very much. So to download the video and the song, the proceeds of which goes towards the relief efforts in Haiti, go to www.world25.org