On this day in 1985, the single “We Are the World” was released by the group USA for Africa as a rallying song for famine relief in Africa. The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. “We Are the World” was largely inspired by the success of Band-Aid’s 1984 charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in the United Kingdom. Thus, on January 21, after the American Music Awards, 48 musically and racially diverse artists gathered to belt out the anthem “We Are the World.”
Here is the video which features artists such as Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, and Ray Charles. It’s 7 minutes long (how else are they going to squeeze that much star power in one video?) but definitely worth watching. Although some criticized the song for being self-applauding or for not exploring the reasons for the famine, the song was ultimately well-received by the public and became the first certified multi-platinum single. “We Are the World” has raised over $63 million since its release and continues to have an impact in the musical industry.
With the 1985 single “We Are the World” came a resurgence in political and humanitarian themes in music. In fact, in 2010 after disastrous earthquakes occurred in Haiti, “We Are the World” was rerecorded by new artists to appeal to a younger generation. I like the message but I’m not sure how I feel about the combined musical stylings of Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.
Have a good weekend!