A Corner Critic Special-A Review of We Are the World 25 for Haiti

Should I really be reviewing this?  No matter what the quality of the product is like, the participants’ hearts are in the right place.  Who is going to complain about celebrity egos being shown the door in favor of altruism for eight brief minutes?

Well, I am.  For one, this has happened before.  And when it happened 25 years ago, the results were far superior.  I am not even sure what the celebrities were trying to do.  Oh, they may have been thinking they were helping Haiti, but what is really happening here is a cash in on the original.  Nothing is really gained from this.

The original was meant to help with the mass starvation that was (and still is) occurring in Africa. This new version is about Haiti and the Earthquake.  Seems like a good cause, and if you truly want to donate, there are worse ways to spend your money.  This is still  pop excess at its best.  But this is nowhere close to what the original was.

For one, the lineup was flawed.  Among the people included are Miley Cyrus, Akon, Celine Dion, Fergie, The Jonas Brothers….well do I need to go on?  This is far from classic (even if they are popular) and dilutes the original.That version had Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder…again, do I need to go on?  They were some of the most vital artists in history whose staying power had been proven time and time again. This new line up does not-they will be forgotten.

Also, where are the rock stars?  The original was all inclusive-the new version focuses on pop and (excuse me while I spit up my last meal) hip hop.  This version needed people like, oh, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jack White, John Mayer, Scott Weiland, Brandon Flowers-again, most of these are not the most vital artists.  But, they are certainly popular and would have been able to do what the rock n roll element did in the original.  Yet this was not only ignored, it was treated with scorn.   Brian Wilson is present, as is Heart, but only in the chorus-they are not given anything to work with.  Their presence is just a reminder of how much the ball was dropped.

How else?  There is a freestyle rap verse at the end.  I wish I was joking.  There is a free style rap verse.  Did the artists involved believe this to be a nice touch?  I don’t know-maybe they felt they were commenting on how music has changed.  Whatever-it doesn’t work.  It is garish, crude, and frankly quite insidious.  Most of all, it is unnecessary-it resembles a comedian who keeps telling a joke long after he has reached the punchline.

So, this is a cover that doesn’t work.  It serves no purpose but to stoke the egos of the new stars involved.  So much for “leaving their egos at the door.”  I could think of nothing else during the entire running time.  See it only as a curiosity-like a Hollywood remake of a classic film.  It cannot recapture the magic of the original.

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