Wednesday, February 3, 2010

We Are The World Redux? Hope Not

In 1985, there was (and unfortunately, still is) a massive famine plaguing Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa.  Americans were getting pelted with images of malnourished children so weak they were unable to swat the flies covering their faces and Sally Struthers pleading with people to send money to support children abroad.  The news covered the political situations causing the famine while giving us no end in sight to the madness.
At the behest of Harry Belefonte, he along with Quincy Jones corralled Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Stevie Wonder,a a triumvirate of talented singers and songwriters, to write a song with proceeds going to the United Support of Artists for Africa (USA for Africa - catchy, ain't it?), a non-profit organization aimed at feeding the starving people in Ethiopia.  Wonder eventually dropped out of the writing process, but Jackson and Richie carried on and put the entire song together.  Then they got 45+ of the country's most influential singers/actors (past and current) together to record the classic "We Are the World" (WATW).  They put the record out and it was an instant hit.  Millions of dollars were raised for famine relief and for a while there, we as Americans felt like we did something positive to help those in need.

Skip to 2010.  A massive earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti to its core.  Hundreds of thousands people died, millions of people were displaced from their homes, and many more injured in the pure chaos that ensued due to lack of significant infrastructure, years of greed and corruption siphoning aid to their own people, and basic neglect from of the populace from the Haitian government.  Immediately, aid groups sprang into action to begin relief efforts.  However, in this situation, the power of technology had taken over.  Instantly America's focus was brought to island's plight; so much so that we felt we needed to do something.  Without much thought or discomfort, we were able to Tweet, Face book, and text relief to reputable aid organizations.  Along with these efforts, a star-studded relief telethon (with an absent Kanye West -thank gawd!) was orchestrated and millions were raised in a fraction of the time it took 25 years ago.   Once again, Americans came (and are still coming) to the aid of those who needed it.

Then somebody decided that it wasn't enough to just do what was done thus far.  An updated "We Are the World" is needed.  Uhm, what?!  Are you serious?! NO! Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie were originally planning on re-recording the song for a 25th anniversary version (why?!!), but the Haiti disaster struck and they decided to shift the focus to Haiti's relief effort.  Check out the cast of talent they brought in for this(I will highlight those who are actually worthy of being remotely associated with WATW):

* Akon
* India.Arie
* Patti Austin
* Tony Bennett
* Justin Bieber
* Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
* Ethan Bortnick
* Brandy
* Jeff Bridges
* Toni Braxton
* Zac Brown
* Kristian Bush
* Natalie Cole
* Harry Connick Jr.
* Kid Cudi
* Miley Cyrus
* Celine Dion
* Snoop Dogg
* Drake
* Earth Wind & Fire
* Faith Evans
* Melanie Fiona
* Jamie Foxx
* Sean Garrett
* Tyrese Gibson
* Josh Groban
* Anthony Hamilton
* Keri Hilson
* Julianne Hough
* Jennifer Hudson
* Enrique Iglesias
* LL Cool J
* Janet Jackson
* Randy Jackson
* Taj Jackson
* Taryll Jackson
* TJ Jackson
* Al Jardine
* Joe Jonas
* Kevin Jonas
* Nick Jonas
* Rashida Jones
* Gladys Knight
* Adam Levine
* Jimmy Jean-Louis
* Benji Madden
* Joel Madden
* Mary Mary
* Katharine McPhee
* Jason Mraz
* Mya
* Jennifer Nettles
* Orianthi
* Freda Payne
* Pink
* A. R. Rahman
* Nicole Richie
* Raphael Saadiq
* Carlos Santana
* Nicole Scherzinger
* Isaac Slade
* Trey Songz
* Musiq Soulchild
* Jordin Sparks
* Barbra Streisand
* T-Pain
* Robin Thicke
* Rob Thomas
* Usher
* Vince Vaughn
* Lil Wayne
* Kanye West
* Will.i.am
* Ann Wilson
* Brian Wilson
* Nancy Wilson
* BeBe Winans

Reading this list, I have to ask who the frak put this together?!  C'mon!  Vince Vaughn?  The Jonas Brothers? Kid Cudi?  It looks as if they weren't really interested in sending a truly heartfelt message to the American & Haitian people by putting awesomely talented people together to sing in solidarity.  This list looks more marketing ploy to capitalize on 25 year old magic.

I am sure these folks want to help and they can/will.  But why try to do it on the legacy of WATW, and in turn, destroy any good memory of the original?  As cheesy as the first one was, it was special as basically it had never been done previously on such a grand scale.  Trying to replicate that is impossible especially when the song itself has new lyrics, a damn rap section in it (Really?  How many times does a song get "updated" just by putting some jackass on the mic saying "Uh. Uh. Yeah."? Just look at how Puffy fawked up the classic Police song "Every Breath You Take"), and a bunch of talentless hacks crooning/talking all over it.

If they wanted to do something like WATW, why not just take what they did to mess up WATW and GIVE IT A NEW TITLE?!  Cut out anything resembling WATW and see if it stands up on its own.  With the amount of star-power on it, it would definitel sell and go platinum while leaving WATW's legacy intact.  Then everyone can feel good.

Is nothing sacred anymore?!!


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