Though the three-minute version of "We Are The World 25" just debuted on NBC's Olympics coverage, the full 8-minute version is now available online. You can purchase it at iTunes or donate at We Are The World Foundation website. The full version will be shown tomorrow night around the world.
Like its predecessor, “We Are The World 25" is a snapshot of a moment in time, not a commentary on the whole of music history. There’s already a lot of carping about who’s in and who’s out in this version and how they stack up to the original, which is pretty much a waste of time.
Does Lil Wayne equal Bob Dylan? Of course not. (No matter what Nick Jonas thinks.) Does his contribution to the song work? Yeah, it does. So does Wyclef Jean’s traditional Haitian singing and the hip-hop verses, especially the ones delivered by Kanye West and will.i.am.
Times change and so does music. Comparing one era’s stars to another really only guarantees pointless fights since there’s no way of knowing how any careers are going to turn out until they’re completed. That said, here’s some random thoughts about the new version, in chronological order:
Picking newcomer Justin Bieber to open this song is kind of shocking, but maybe that’s the point. He handles himself well, at least.
Jennifer Hudson serves as one of the song’s MVPs.
Jennifer Nettles is a nice change of pace and her voice blends well with Josh Groban.
Tony Bennett is always a class act. And Mary J. Blige is always a thrilling one.
Putting the late Michael Jackson, who co-wrote the song, in the song was a nice touch. Having his sister Janet Jackson sing harmony with him was also fitting, though the mix of her vocals is too low to hear, even on the finalized version,
Barbra Streisand sounds gorgeous. Putting her next to Miley Cyrus didn’t do the youngster any favors, though. Same goes for Enrique Iglesias.
There’s a whole lot of Jamie Foxx in this video – the first pass is good, the Ray Charles impersonation at the end, not so much.
Wyclef Jean really feels this song. So does Adam Levine, apparently.
Pink is truly a can’t-miss singer. So is Celine Dion, who somehow brings the same emotional punctuation to the song as Cyndi Lauper did in the original. Having Fergie finish that phrasing does not offer a good comparison, though.
Nick Jonas should probably have gotten more lines – maybe one of Nicole Scherzinger’s?
AutoTuned Lil Wayne was actually kind of sweet. AutoTuned Akon, not as much. AutoTuned T-Pain, um, no.
The gang vocal from rappers LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and others really updates the song far more than all the AutoTune.
Go J. Hud!
Kanye West’s verse is characteristically excellent, while will.i.am brings home the “One Tribe” vibe.
Wyclef fittingly closes out the song for his homeland.