We Are the World 25 for Haiti
March 4th, 2012
Todd: Some days you gotta work for it, some days it walks right up to you. Now almost every single one of my reviews, I hear the song over and over and over again because of the extreme overplay on the radio for months and months and months, and slowly I build up jokes, and eventually I feel like I've got enough material for a review. That's not what happened with "We Are the World 2010."
I heard "We Are the World 2010" for the first time on a Monday, I wrote the script on Tuesday, and I uploaded the finished video by the weekend. That's how easy it was. Like, I immediately had so many jokes about what a terrible song this was, and that's...that's good too because that song went away very, very quickly. If I'd waited any longer, no one would even know what I'm talking about. Like, I'm not sure any of you know what I'm talking about, if you haven't already watched this video. But...yeah, "We Are the World 2010," a pop song review. Enjoy.
Fade into Todd playing "We Are the World" on his keyboard.
ARTISTS FOR HAITI - "WE ARE THE WORLD 25 FOR HAITI"
A pop song review
Todd: I have...I have a terrible backlog of bad pop songs I need to be reviewing, and it's...the list is just getting longer and longer, but sometimes you hear something so awful, something just so catastrophic and heartbreaking that you just have to drop everything and address it.
- OK! Magazine web story: "Music Legends Gather to Record 25th Anniversary Version of "We Are the World"
- USA for Africa: We are the world...
Todd (VO): No, I'm talking about the earthquake, you jackass! You guys are jerks.
Todd: Okay, I need to say this right now up front—I don't have any patience for people who sneer at celebrities because they participate in these big, gaudy displays of charity. You know, I hate it when people look at [video of acceptance speech] Bono and say, "oh, I hate that pompous douchebag. Look at him, always trying to change the world, help people...I hate that guy."
You know what? Whatever. I will take an insincere display of charity over a genuine display of apathy every day of the week. That said...
- Video for USA for Africa - "We Are the World"
Todd (VO): It's not like I've dropped my critical faculties here. I know why people hate this kind of music. Good intentions and charity work are all admirable, but they don't make an awful song any less awful. "We Are the World," in case you don't know, was a big hit charity record in 1985, it was supposed to help starving children in Africa, and it is, and was always, an unbearable miserable train wreck of a song—an avalanche of bad lyrics and bad music distinguished solely by its monstrous arrogance in every single aspect of its being, right down to the title.
Todd: "'We' are the world, 'we' are the children. 'We're' saving our own lives." [sighs] This was the only way we could get people to do charity work in the 80s—by stroking their massive egos.
- Clip from 30 Rock
Todd (VO): And there's a reason why we've spent the last 25 years making fun of this type of bloated charity single—because it's both terrible and it's on its face ridiculous.
- Video for "We Are the World 25 for Haiti," with Lionel Richie speaking
But the disaster in Haiti has convinced our current best and brightest stars to drop both their cynicism and their sense of self-awareness, so they all gathered together to remake "We Are the World."
Todd: [unenthusiastic] Yippee.
- Clip from original
Todd (VO): Okay, one thing you can say about the original—it had star power. Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder.
Todd: And thus accordingly for this new version, we have all the top pop stars of today to perform. All the biggest names, like Justin Timberlake. (Nope.) Lady Gaga. (No-show.) Beyonce. (Uh-uh.) [almost desperate] Coldplay. (Sorry.) [finally desperate] Taylor Swift. (Was gonna come, but got distracted by a butterfly.) [Uh....] Lil Wayne? (Yes, actually.) Oh, good. At least we have that, because when I think charitable goodwill, I think Lil Wayne.
- Clip from Chris Brown - "I Can Transform Ya"
- Lil Wayne: I transform smaller and she puts me in her pants
- Video for "We Are the World 25 for Haiti"
- Artists: We are the world
- Nicole Scherzinger: We are the world
- Artists: We are the children
Todd (VO): Okay, I'll admit there are still a few actual real celebrities on this thing. We have Miley Cyrus, Akon, Black Eyed Peas. But this thing is still shockingly deficient as far as real big names.
Todd: I mean, if you heard there was gonna be a new "We Are the World" for 2010, would the first people you'd expect to see be [clips of the following artists] Barbra Streisand, BeBe Winans, and Tony Bennett? 'Cause there's no way you'd have a real celebrity team-up without Tony Bennett. [Clip of Jennifer Nettles] I mean, who's this person? Who is this? You tell me, I have no idea.
- Artists: We are the world
Todd (VO): I mean, you can tell this is gonna be the most misguided, stillborn excuse for a song you ever heard when they have to start the song—I mean, make their first impression onto the world so you can save orphaned children—and...
Todd: ...the best you can come up with to start the song is Justin Bieber.
- Justin Bieber: There comes a time when we heed a certain call
Todd: I wanna give this kid a swirlie every single time I see him, I swear to God.
Todd (VO): Oh, and there's Josh Groban on here too.
Todd: Seeing Josh Groban on here really does strike an odd note because when I see Josh Groban performing on a star-studded charity single, I don't think Haiti. I think Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Affleck.
- Clip from Jimmy Kimmel
- Celebs: I'm fucking Ben Affleck
Todd (VO): Admit it. You were thinking the same thing. [Cuts to Josh playing piano] And that's the problem with remaking "We Are the World" in 2010.
Todd: We have spent two and a half decades making fun of this song specifically, so much so that it no longer even exists as a real song anymore. It's just a joke. And for the record, Josh Groban sounded way more passionate about Ben Affleck than he does about Haiti.
- [Intercut between "We Are the World"...]
- Josh Groban: Pretending day by day
- [...and...you know.]
- Fucking Ben...
Todd: Now the interesting thing is that a lot of the time, they picked a singer to match the original pretty well, so you can compare the two songs to find out who's the 2010 version of a singer from the 80s. So...
- [Intercut between the two versions]
Todd (VO): ...our Cyndi Lauper apparently is Celine Dion; and our Bruce Springsteen is a deranged, off-his-meds Wyclef Jean.
- Wyclef Jean: Nous ce monde là (AaaAAaaAAaaAAaaAAaaA...)
- Clip of Homsar screaming
Todd (VO): Instead of Stevie Wonder, we have T-Pain; instead of Ray Charles, we have Jamie Foxx still doing his Ray Charles impression (Gettin' old, Jamie); and instead of Bob Dylan, we have Lil Wayne. (Lil Wayne has now officially collaborated with everyone.)
Todd: Now that last one may have sounded sacrilegious to you, but it makes perfect sense to me because Lil Wayne is the only person on Earth who could even hope to sound as bad as Bob Dylan does on the original.
- Bob Dylan: ...make a better day
- Lil Wayne: Just you and me
Todd (VO): But if you think that's bad, wait 'til you see who they got to do Michael Jackson's part. Get ready, here it comes.
- Pans up to reveal...
- Michael Jackson: We are the world
- We are the children
Todd: Now isn't that a sad commentary? 25 years later, the only substitute for Michael Jackson is more Michael Jackson.
Todd (VO): And we have Janet Jackson doing a virtual duet, which is just...odd and morbid. (Zombie Michael Jackson supports Haiti!) Please, for the love of God, no more duets with dead people.
Todd: Okay, here's some more faint praise for the original. Say what you want about it, the producers went out of their way to make every singer sound their best. Except, of course, for Dylan, but what are you gonna do? Now my favorite part is the second chorus, where in quick succession, we have BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN!
- Bruce: We are the world
Todd: KENNY LOGGINS!
- Kenny: We are the ones who make a brighter day
Todd: STEVE PERRY!
- Steve Perry: ...our own lives
Todd: DARYL HALL!
- Daryl Hall: ...make a better day
Todd: And it's all just so glorious, it's almost self-parody. Now compare...
Todd (VO): that to the new version, where we go from Streisand, who just sounds awful.
- Barbra: ...true we'll make a better day
Todd (VO): And then we go straight into Miley Cyrus sounding more ear-bleedingly sharp than ever.
- Miley: Well... one cares
Todd just covers his head
Todd (VO): And then that's immediately followed with the worst Enrique Iglesias performance I've ever heard.
- Enrique: So their cries for help
- Will not be in vain
Todd: Look, the world got sick of your simpering Latin lover schtick a long time ago. Go away, find some testicles, you quivering loser.
- LL Cool J, will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beatz: We all need somebody that we can lean on
Todd (VO): Also, because most of our pop stars today are rappers, we have to find a way to fit them in, and it's one of the most awkward and stupid things I've ever heard. Again, I find it hard to feel in the giving mood listening to Busta Rhymes and Snoop Dogg.
- LL Cool J, will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beatz: When the radio isn't on you can hear the songs
- (We tha world, muthafuckaz!)
- Fergie: Come on, y'all, let me hear ya!
- T-Pain: We are the world
Todd (VO): Okay, now one way in which this version does live up...
Todd: [catching something] WOAH WOAH WOAH! Stop stop stop, pause pause. Is that Jeff Bridges?! [Still frame shows it is indeed] Wow. Not even the power of the Dude can save this song.
- Clip from The Big Lebowski
- Dude: Jesus.
Todd: Anyway, like I was saying, one way in which the remake lives up to the original is that it's like a billion years long.
Todd (VO): Like, by the time you finish listening to either version, some other country's gonna need your help. [the video becomes increasingly slowed down] I mean, it just goes on and on and on.
- Artists: Let's start giving
Todd (VO): Okay, for real, is Wyclef okay? Could someone go check on him?
- Jennifer Hudson: We are the children
Todd: And in the spirit of this song's grotesque egoism, we finish it off fittingly with Kanye West.
- Kanye: Everyday citizens
- Everybody pitching in
- Children & Wyclef Jean: Nous ce monde là
- Nou se timoun yo
- (Seriously, WTF? Why didn't someone stop him??)
- will.i.am: You and I
- You and I
- Kanye: Uh, 12 days no water
- What's your will to live?
- (Kanye sez: I am the world)
- will.i.am: We amplified the love
Todd: Now these celebrities are reminding all that we should donate, and I don't think that's a terrible message at all. I mean, we've all been bombarded with this message for weeks now, but, you know, every little bit counts. All the same, if you haven't donated anything, I'm not gonna judge you, I'm not gonna hold it against you, I understand. The original came out in the 80s, you know, the era of greed and obscene wealth. This is 2010, no one has any money anymore. I guess Ethiopians picked a better time to starve than Haiti did to have an earthquake. You know, but all the same...for a reminder, if you can donate, good for you, try at least. And as a reminder, the proceeds from "We Are the World" all go to charity, so I'm gonna ask you to do a good deed. Donate to Haiti by any method other than buying this single, because that way, you do two good deeds—1. you help out a little, and 2. you discourage people from ever making this kind of music again.
- Lionel Richie: Wow.
Todd: "Wow" is right, Lionel.
- Wycelf: Ha, Ha, ha, ha, ha, Haiti
Closing tag song: "He Needs a Kidney" from 30 Rock
No. of "We Are the World" artists on "Kidney Now!": 4
"We Are the World" artists on "I'm F***ing Ben Affleck": 4