A shorter, three-minute version of “We are the World 25 for Haiti” debuted during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics last night, but here’s the eight-minute version that aired worldwide today that is probably about 7:30 more than you need to get the idea.
Here’s the thing: you can’t really criticize something like this without coming across as a total Grinch, but it’s inconceivable to me that anyone will be watching this a week from now. Plus, I guarantee you that unlike the original 25 years ago where you can still name everyone in that clip, folks won’t have a clue who some of these people are five
months years from now.
The video starts with Justin Bieber singing the opening lines. Really? I know you have to match voices with the song, but maybe someone who has actually released a full album should have gotten that slot. The video follows the original fairly closely until it gets to a rap breakdown lead by LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg and Will.I.Am. It’s an attempt to update the song and fuse the details of the Haitian situation with the tune, but it’s part of what will make the song feel extremely dated very shortly—although Lil Wayne and T Pain’s autotuned parts already guaranteed that.
There’s a certain absurdity to seeing Barbra Streisand and Nicole Scherzinger (who gets way more than her fair share of air time) singing the same song, but it’s fun figuring out who’s who and marveling at the fact that most of these people probably have no idea who some of the other ones are. It took a few views for me to figure out it was Miley Cyrus in one part because of the size of the microphone.
As far as the insertion of the Michael Jackson footage from the 1984 original, it’s easy to believe that Jackson is in the room since many of the artists are in vocal booths singing by themselves and the color scheme is the same. What could be tacky works out just fine. It’s not over the top, it’s only two shots and it’s a nice homage. However, the split screen of Jackson and sister Janet is a bit forced.
For the cynic, part of the intent of these catch-all songs is to make the music industry feel good that it’s doing something about a world tragedy, but if the video moves one person to donate to the Haitian cause, that’s really all that matters. Proceeds from download sales of the song will go to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti through the We Are The World Foundation.
What are your thoughts?