Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Are the World 25 for Haiti

In 1984-1985 Africa experienced a famine that killed in upwards of 1,000,000 individuals. USA for Africa came together along with social activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte to create a song which would be sung by some of the music industries most famous artists of the time.

Belafonte enlisted the help of Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers. They in turn got Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson to help. The song itself was written mainly by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson.

We Are the World was the song written and it was recorded in 1985 and has sold more than 20 million copies and earned more than $63 million dollars for charity in Africa and in the United States as well. The song has won many awards, including three Grammy Awards, one American Music Award and a People's Choice Award.

I remember crying when I first heard the song. The music, the lyrics inspired and touched me, but what really reached my heart was the compassion and love that I saw on the faces of the artists that participated. I felt their love and their intense craving to help in any way they could with the talents given to them by God...especially through their voices. It was amazing.

Here's a version of the original We Are the World.

Twenty-five years later, driven by the need to provide help and financial aide to Haiti who experienced a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, it was decided that We are the World would be remade by new artists to reach a whole new generation.

The song was recorded on February 1st in 14 hours by over 80 artists. The new version was aired for the first time during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics in Canada. 

When I first heard the new version, I decided I didn't like it...at all. But then I figured maybe the reason I liked the original version is that it was my version, the version I first heard and fell in love with. And now it's a whole new world, a whole new generation and maybe they need a version that they can love and that can make them feel the way my version made me feel.

So I listened to the new version over and over again and the more I listened to it; the more I experienced the words and the faces and the voices of the new artists, the more I loved it. It's still not as awe-inspiring as my version, but it's pretty darn close.

I love that they included the original clip of Michael Jackson.

And unbelievable as it seems to me my favorite part was the rap part close to the end that was contributed by LL Cool J, Will-I-Am, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and Swizz Beatz. I love the way they sound, but more than that, I love the lyrics.

We all need somebody that we can lean on
when you wake up look around and see that your dreams gone
when the earth quakes we’ll help you make it through the storm
when the floor breaks a magic carpet to stand on
we are the World united by love so strong
when the radio isn’t on you can hear the songs
a guided light on the dark road your walking on
a sign post to find the dreams you thought was gone
someone to help you move the obstacles you stumbled on
someone to help you rebuild after the rubble’s gone
we are the World connected by a common bond

Love, the whole planet singing along.

Here's the new version. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, let me know what you think.

Which is your favorite version and why?

To donate:
Download to Donate at itune.com
Text the word "WORLD" to 50555
or go to world25.org


  1. I am still moved nearly to tears when I hear the original version of this song and Do They Know It's Christmas. I agree, it's more my "song" because I was so deeply impacted at a young age by this song.

    The new version, though different is still the same great message and new voices to carry on the glorious message that we are all man kind, we are all one species and one world.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. I have been wanting to see this so bad, Thank you for sharing....the rap part was my fav too:)

  3. Your sentiments were mine exactly at first. I really didn't like the first time I heard the new version at the opening ceremonies at all. I had no comprehension of who most the performers were and like you said, I loved the original.

    I did however download the video and song from iTunes and have played it several times, went to the Killer hip hop or whatever it is website to get all of the new lyrics and names of all the solo singers. I was amazed that I did know many of the names although I couldn't match them with faces.

    I have a very hard time listening to certain kinds of popular music of this generation when it is so very violent and degrading. And now to turn to see the same performers saying we all have to do something to save these people in Haiti. Some of them live such crass, hard and rough lives - and now my kids should look up to them, because they with their millions of $$ are singing a song I should buy so that my money can go to Haiti?

    I don't let my kids listen to their regular music. So I really struggled with that.

    My husband heard Wyclif Jean singing in the native haitian creole with that unique cultural howl, and he immediately said - why does he have to go and ruin it like that. I immediately wanted to defend it as being part of the culture of the people who are hurting so badly. I am so conflicted. I want to like it, but I struggle with the singers.

    Upon seeing the full version - it does have it's high emotional moments. It is very emotional showing the utter destruction in the video. The song does grow on me each time I hear it.

    I have to say again that I really am struggling with this new culture of music. The vulgarity and blatant sexuality thrown in our kids faces by many of these same stars leaves me angry and frustrated at their gross lack of morals and irresponsibility. The video for the Black eyed Peas song "I Got a Feelin" is absolutely inappropriate for kids to see - yet it is one of their favorite songs pushed at them thru the media.

    I ache for the people of Haiti. Don't get me wrong.
    If this new song raises money to help - then something good has come out of it. That would be great.

    But I can't put the singers on a pedestal because they spent a couple of hours singing a song with a bunch of friends. Every one of them is getting their moment of fame for singing on it.

    What makes any of those artists better than the folks who are sending their hard earned money, their time and their efforts to Haiti? The soldiers, the human aid and relief workers. They are doing a whole lot more than these pampered gold wearing 'stars'

    I think as Americans our priorities are all mixed up.

    So sorry to rant in your comments. I know I rambled quite a bit. Like I said it is a conflict within myself and I am struggling with it.

  4. I remember when that song came out. It brings back so many memories in high school!!

    And I do have to agree with Valerie up above!

  5. I too am a fan of the original...I remember when it came out and I loved it...I like this version too, mainly because some of my favorite current singers get to be in this one. I'm sure they loved the original too and are so happy to be apart of such a wonderful thing.

  6. Audra - Thank you for reading and enjoying. I'm glad you agreed with me and with the fact that there is still the same great message just with new voices...and a few old ones.

    But our song was still better :-)

  7. Braley Mama - Summur, I'm so glad that you were finally able to see it. I'm glad you liked the rap. I'm not usually a rap fan, but this one just touched my heart and made me feel that maybe there's hope.

  8. valerie@composition-life

    Thank you for such a great comment. Please never apologize for having an opinion, especially such an intelligent and heart-felt opinion. I agree with so much of what you say and I totally understand your mixed emotions.

    If I had small children I would definitely think twice about lots of songs that are out there today. I don't believe that you need to let your children experience everything and let them make their own choices. I totally believe you have to guide them.

    My own children weren't allowed to watch The Simpsons because I didn't like how rude and disrespectful Bart was to his parents. I know it's a cartoon, but if kids can learn Spanish from Dora the Explorer, they can learn disrespect from Bart Simpson.

    Thank you for sharing with me and as long as you are a parent you will continue to struggle with so many things in life that your children are exposed to. But I think you will be able to guide them to make the right choices and decisions.

  9. Alicia - Thanks for coming by again and I'm glad it brought back those high school memories. I know those were the best for me!

  10. Mama Thompson - I'm so glad you like the current version. It's kinda been growing on me as well. I have to admit though, I felt more love, kinship and joy in the first one from the artists.

  11. I feel so ignorant...I didn't know about this redo. I haven't been watching the Olympics much either. But, you are right, it is a whole new world out there and the song reflects it.

  12. I must admit I liked the first version better, but the lyrics and the music overcome the interpretation in this recent one, and we come to like it nevertheless. Anyway it's for a good cause.

    Thanks for the loveluy post and video.

  13. Great post, Alicia.

    Anything we do to help Haiti makes the whole world a better place.

  14. Alicia, I haven't heard the new version yet. The link or video you posted isn't showing up on my end so I guess I'll have to go to youtube and search it out.

    I did love the old version of the song though.

  15. Oh! I'm waiting till after my bath (pronounced "baaath") to watch these...'cause I want to truly enjoy them. (Yeah, just another crazy Saturday night for meeeee)

    I remember when the first one came out...all the radio stations played the song at the same designated time...I remember my mom turning the dial on the radio...and they were all playing it. It gave me chills then and it still does.



Please leave a comment.I would love to know your thoughts!