Great cause...but who are half of these clowns?
A couple of things are worth noting about the two versions of “We Are the World,” the original which cobbled together the biggest pop stars of the 80s under the moniker USA for Africa, and the new version, “We Are the World: 25 For Haiti,” that debuted during the Winter Olympics last Friday and will benefit victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti last month.
The first and most important is that the idea is deeply momentous; gathering top name musical acts and celebrities for the sole purpose of drawing attention to the impoverished and the catastrophe laden victims of both famine and now natural disaster.
The second is that the song, this year’s and the 1985 one - are absolutely terrible.
Filled with sappy sentimentality and penned by the purveyors of lyrical cheese, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, the piece represents so much of what was wrong with the 80s; it was over the top, it was messy and it was completely overblown at seven minutes long.
Incredibly dated, the best it has going for it these days is the cache of top-tier artists who contributed. Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder are all recognized as legends in the annals of music history who were superstars even when they took part – but there’s virtually no one with that type of star power in the new one, which is just a ridiculous mess.
Starting off with Justin Bieber on vocals is one of the more head-scratching moves by producers of the song. Will anyone even know who this kid is in five years?
Lionel Richie should know better, but then again, he invited his daughter Nicole to take part. It’s bad enough non-singing celebrities take part, but a pseudo-celeb who is most famous for starring in a brainless reality show with Paris Hilton?
Vince Vaughn, yes – Vince Vaughn actually gets a pass because somebody had to be the 2010 version of the 1985 Dan Akroyd. And the Jonas Brothers are almost a little like this year’s Pointer Sisters if you think about it.
Nearly everyone who takes part is over-emoting or over dramatizing their performance. From Barbra Streisand’s breathy sighs to Jennifer Nettles contorting facial expressions, it’s hard to figure out if these people were taking part for charity or for an Academy Award.
Speaking of Oscars, has anyone told Jamie Foxx that he can only win once for portraying Ray Charles? A talented artist in his own right, he needs to stop milking it – unless he’s trying to make people forget he also starred in the big screen adaptation of Miami Vice.
Janet Jackson’s duet with her dead brother Michael is a nice touch, even if it is a little creepy in a too-soon sort of way, and the rap at the end of the song is just atrocious. But what already dates the track is the use of Auto-Tune by Akon, Lil Wayne and T-Pain. It’s a form of voice processing for people who can’t really hold a note, and it’s already facing a severe backlash, and will probably be non-existent by this time next year.
There isn’t really anyone who seems to be over the moon about the new version either. Jay-Z has been the most vocal critic, telling MTV, “Some things are just untouchable.”
"I know everybody is gonna take this wrong: “We Are the World,” I love it, and I understand the point and think it's great,” he said. “But I think “We Are the World” is like [Michael Jackson's] “Thriller” to me. I don't ever wanna see it touched.”
How about we never hear it played again? That’s a cause worth donating to.