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'We are the World' remake is bad … but what did you expect?

Lionel Richie, clockwise from left, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder record We Are the World by USA for Africa. Richie wrote the original anthem with Michael Jackson.

Associated Press (1985)

Lionel Richie, clockwise from left, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder record We Are the World by USA for Africa. Richie wrote the original anthem with Michael Jackson.

Stuck in the '80s grumps Sean Daly and Steve Spears just listened to the star-stuffed 25th anniversary redo of We Are the World — and they'd be speechless if they weren't so surly.

Produced by Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie, the tandem that helmed the '85 original, the remake benefits Haiti relief and features such newbies as Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne alongside oldies Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett. Premiering during opening night of the Olympics, the song means well, but something has gone wrong. Herewith, Daly and Spears sound off …

Daly: I'm probably going to hell for saying this, but Michael Jackson's chorus, which has been recycled from the original, is the only vital part of the remake. And he's dead! Am I wrong?

Spears: No, you're definitely going to hell, but not for that. The biggest problem — besides dragging poor Vince Vaughn and Jeff Bridges into this felony case — is that the first We Are the World wasn't any good to begin with. This is like remaking Spam.

Daly: Oh, this is faux ham all right. We Are the World, old or new, has the egregious ability to make sublime singers — Bennett, Babs — sound shrieky and lost. When merely average voices try to tackle this clunker, it's a full-on mess. Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles strains so much on the new version, the poor thing sounds as if she's birthing twins.

Spears: I'd say the only time the remake shines is during the rap breakdown at the end. And I normally don't like rap.

Daly: Indeed, adding rhymes from LL Cool J and Will.i.am is an inspired move. And I was genuinely touched by poor, beat-up Kanye West showing his face. What did you think about Wyclef's Bob Marley impression?

Spears: Forget about shooting the sheriff, shoot me instead.

Daly: I liked 'Clef's yelping. It cut into the Velveeta ripeness of the song. Still, he couldn't save it.

Spears: It's unwinnable. It's like the "Kobayashi Maru" of pop songs.

Daly: Really? An obscure Star Trek reference? Okay, Spock, what will you say if they remake Do They Know It's Christmas? this year? After all, it's also the 25th anniversary of Bob Geldof's Live Aid. "Feed the worrrlllddd …"

Spears:

Daly: Come on, Steve, a Susan Boyle-for-Bono swap? How bad can that be? Steve? Steve?

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life column runs every Sunday in Floridian. Steve Spears can be reached at stuckinthe80s@tampabay.com.

We are the … what???

A shrieking ego fest? Remake gold? Click here to hear the song and take our online poll. To enjoy all the Stuck in the '80s antics, go to blogs.tampabay.com/80s.

'We are the World' remake is bad … but what did you expect? 02/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 8:47am]

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