Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Are The World

     The year was 1985.  Africa had a population of drastically less than it did only one year ago.  Ethiopia alone had lost 1 million adults and children in just 12 months.  Little could be done to solve this problem immediately.  Donations were coming in from everywhere.  It didn't seem to be enough though.  How can money alone pull an entire country out of a food shortage.  Just because people donate money to a country doesn't mean they have the means of getting food for themselves.  Real people, with two hands and two feet, had to start helping immediately.  In comes American pop culture to save the day, or a country in this case.
     Two of the world's biggest music icons, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, stepped in to write what would become the worlds highest grossing single of all time (only to be beat in 1997 by Elton John's Candle In The Wind - A Tribute To Princess Diana.)  The idea was to write a song, with an all-star lineup of vocalists and instrumentalists to record a song that would produce not only money for a country in need, but the desire to help in those who listened.  The two, with Quincy Jones, recorded this smash hit on January 28, 1985 and would have it released on March 7, 1985.  The single would feature the largest list of "cameo-like" appearances by the American music industry's biggest names to date.  The songs features a familiar pattern of many of today's hits.  It was arranged with a little bit more "strategy" than those of today though.  Huey Lewis, of Huey Lewis and the News, with the help of MJ himself, came up with a chore-bridge pattern that they claimed "created a sense of continuous surprise and emotional buildup."  The song would go on to earn a 4x Platinum certification, and sell over 4 million copies.  That's ONE song!  4 million copies!
     As unexpected as earthquakes are, the world threw another curve ball at us.  On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude.  It was the country's most severe earthquake in over 200 years killing an estimated 200,000 people.  Just before the earthquake hit, Lionel Richie had planned to re-record We Are The World for it's 25th anniversary.  After seeing what had happened in Haiti, he needed no other reason than to do it to help Haiti.
       On February 1st, 2010, over a mere 14 hours of studio time, We Are The World 25 - For Haiti was recorded.  This song was primarily redone for the good of raising money for Haiti, and making people aware of the issues that separate us from one another; It also served a way to remember Michael Jackson, who died June 25th of 2009.  Like the 1985 version, it featured a breath-taking array of vocalists from nearly every genre popular in today's music.  From opera vocalist Josh Grobin to 50's crooner Tony Bennett.  From Lil' Wayne and T-Pain to Zac Brown and Jennifer Nettles.  Keeping with the idea of creating this song with a dual-purpose in mind, the late Michael Jackson's memorable solo from the original hit was left intact and complete in the final version of this song's video.  Michael's sister Janet sings a stunningly passionate duet with her brother, the King, during is chorus.  If you're a Snoop Dogg fan, or you wanna hear T-Pain "sing" with auto-tune, than this video is for you.  If you wanna hear Jennifer Hudson or Celine Dion capture you with amazing vocals, or hear Jamie Fox bring Ray Charles back for a cameo, then you've simply got to see this video.  It's a treasure you can't miss.
      You can watch the 1985 version here, and check out or buy the newer version here.  I hope you enjoy.

On a side note:  This is my first attempt at blogging, and my topic of this blog is pretty generic.  I welcome all comments, positive or negative.  If anyone has any suggestions for a topic, or something they would like me to cover, just ask.  Thanks everyone.