“We Are the World,” the 1985 single written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and recorded by a cast of music biz luminaries to benefit victims of famine in Africa, is getting a refreshed 2010 treatment to help victims of Haiti’s recent earthquake.
With the Grammys in town, Richie and iconic producer Quincy Jones, who also worked on the original song, wrangled a massive array of heavy hitters into a Los Angeles recording studio Monday (Feb. 1). How’s this for variety: Imagine a microphone being shared by Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, T-Pain, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Zac Brown.
The song will make its world premiere during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games, airing Friday, February 12 on NBC at 9 P.M. EST, and will then be distributed to networks worldwide. Paul Haggis, who directed Oscar-winning films Crash and Million Dollar Baby, filmed the recording session for a music video.
Immediately after its TV debut, the track will be available for purchase online. Proceeds benefit the newly-minted non-profit, the We Are the World Foundation.
“What an unbelievable group of people who have come together to give their voices, for a cause to start the healing of a people who have experienced a devastation of such magnitude,” said Richie — who, we might add, appears to have aged far better than the song itself over the past 25 years.
With that in mind, Richie and Jones have enlisted some contemporary production help to refresh “We Are the World,” namely Wyclef Jean, Lady Gaga/Akon producer RedOne, and American Idol musical director Rickey Minor.
Additional big names involved: Brian Wilson, Carlos Santana, Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Pink, the Jonas Brothers, Usher, Rob Thomas, Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, Jamie Foxx, Joel & Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, and dozens more.
Back in 1985, “We Are the World” — which raised $63 million in relief funds — followed in the footsteps of 1984’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” a very New Wave-y, decidedly more hip charity single for African famine recorded by a cast of British all-stars that included U2, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, and other ’80s chart-toppers. Here’s hoping the Brits have a remake of that up their sleeves. Watch both videos here:
WATCH: “We Are the World 1985”
WATCH: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”