Monday, February 15, 2010

Magic Missing From 'We Are the World' Remake



The lesson that should have been learned here is that every idea that sounds good, isn't always good.

Twenty-five years ago something magical happened when many of the greatest singers gathered in a Los Angeles studio to record "We Are the World."

The song, penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, was a masterpiece targeted at raising money for Africa. It was an instant success.

Fast forward to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, where more than 200,000 people were killed.

It seemed like a no brainer to try to recreate the magic of "We Are the World," but with a different cause.

Quincy Jones, who co-produced the original, joined with Richie and Haitian-rapper Wyclef Jean to bring together more than 80 artists for a remake of the 1985 hit.



Let's just say that the same magic from the original, which featured more than 40 artists, just was not there.

Where did this song go wrong?

Well, for one reason or another many of the biggest singers of the present time missed the recording. Okay, so there are tons of singers. Problem solved, right? Wrong!

Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift ruled the Grammy Awards, but none were on the remake for whatever reason. That's like not having Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner on the original.

And although hip-hop is very much a part of today's music, I don't think this song was the appropriate place for many of the biggest rappers. The rap segment of the song, featuring LL Cool J, Will.i.am, Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes, was just doing entirely too much. Nice idea, but no thanks! Save that rap for a whole different song and don't forget to take the Autotune! I just cannot believe that voice-enhancement was even allowed on the remake.

I can't completely blame organizers for wanting to show respect to the older generation, but I thought this remake was about the new school? Why did Tony Bennett and Barbara Streisand get solo spots on the new version? I think they missed the bus on the first go around. But that doesn't give them a free pass on the remake. We could have pulled up Trey Songz and Brandy, who were in the chorus, for those precious solo spots.




Now, the song wasn't a complete disaster. I think the 15-year-old pop heartthrob, Justin Bieber, was a great start for the modern-day version. He took on the role that Lionel Richie had of kicking off the original version. He did a nice job of capturing the emotion of the song in the opening moments.

It continued with artists like Jennifer Hudson, Nicole Scherzinger, Josh Groban, P!nk, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion, Jamie Foxx, Mary Mary and Lil' Wayne, who were excellent selections for solo spots on the song. Lil' Wayne is no singer, but he nailed his part just as good as Bob Dylan did in the original. Big ups to Weezy!!

However, I'm afraid the bad outweighed the good on this one. I think the organizers were just trying to do more than was necessary. Sometimes less is more. There's no reason why people like the Farnsworth Bentley (best known for carrying a fashionable umbrella) and Randy Jackson (of American Idol fame) were singing on the chorus.

And if you look close enough you'll spot Tito Jackson's three sons singing in the chorus as well. I guess they got a free pass because the Jackson family was heavily represented in the first version.

I think it was a good idea to leave Michael Jackson's part in the remake. But having Janet Jackson's vocals put along with his vocals was pointless. She wasn't even at the studio for the recording and therefore, she should have been omitted. The saddest part is the video when she pops up on the screen like a bubble on VH1's Pop Up Video.

In any event, while this version may lack the magic from the original, the positive message remains.

Take a moment and visit World25.org for your chance to donate to Haiti relief.


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Check out the original "We Are the World"

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