Monday, March 09, 2015

We Are The World At 30

Last week was the 30th anniversary of the release of "We Are The World".  Everyone from Rolling Stone, Yahoo, USA Today and Vulture have published articles.  But when it comes to the actual song, I'm probably in the minority, but I still like.  I'm not surprised it wasn't as well-received.  It's a big 7 minute epic, with a video full of stars both loved and loathed by music critics at that time.  You can't go wrong with the legends who were on it at that time:  Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan.  But on the other end not loved-by-the critics acts like Kenny Loggins, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Al Jarreau, Steve Perry.  So, the song was a mix of many of that era's popular singers (and manager Ken Kragen's clients were featured prominently) and established legends.

Still, I fell for the whole package.  And grew even more to love the project when HBO ran a 1 hour documentary on it soon after the single and album were released.  But then I'm a fan of Top 40 radio.  As Dave Marsh rightly pointed out, "We Are The World" was not loved by many in the Rock and Roll community because it wasn't a Rock song.  It was a Pop song. The song's words didn't express anti-establishment views.  But they expected that with a song written by Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones?

Yet, even as a Pop anthem, the most jaded would have a hard time to knock the performances.  Springsteen and Stevie are great.  Steve Perry and Daryl Hall show off their impressive vocals.  Cyndi Lauper goes all Cyndi Lauper with her line.  And James Ingram and Ray Charles bring it home. Oh, and there was an album released too.  Full of unreleased songs by performers on the single.  And Prince,  Who famously decided not to show up for the recording.
So, if you haven't heard the song in a long time, and frankly you'll never hear it on the radio, go back and watch the video.  Or even better, watch the making-of which can be found on You Tube.

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