By Jay Cridlin
Times Pop Music/Culture Critic
Lionel Richie is coming to town Friday, which has us thinking about We Are the World.
Richie co-wrote that charity smash with Michael Jackson back in 1985, and it remains one of the best-selling singles ever, with more than 20 million copies in the books. It also might be history's greatest assemblage of pop talent on one record — not just Richie and Jackson, but Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and many others.
That led us to wonder: If you could recast We Are the World in 2017, who would you pick?
In honor of Richie's concert in Tampa on Friday, we decided to recast all 21 soloists of We Are the World — with a catch. All of them are coming to Tampa Bay this fall. Imagine them all heeding a certain call to come together as one.
Aug. 18, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
The Academy of Country Music's two-time reigning Entertainer of the Year would earn our remake instant airplay in Nashville. An all-star collaboration like this would be his kinda party. $65.50 and up. livenation.com.
Aug. 29, Amalie Arena
The world's biggest male pop star — this show sold out in minutes — could fill the roles of both Richie (as a songwriter) and Jackson (as a singer).. amaliearena.com.
Sept. 1, Amalie Arena
The socially conscious lyrical whiz kid explored a ton of social issues on his three classic albums Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City; To Pimp a Butterfly; and DAMN. He would be everyone's first pick for a feature, and he would help keep everyone humble. $35.75 and up. amaliearena.com.
Sept. 1, Mahaffey Theater
At some point in this song, you'll just need some world-beating voices, and the feathery falsetto of this smooth-as-silk neo-soul superstar definitely qualifies. $45 and up. themahaffey.com.
Sept. 5, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
No strangers to incendiary commentary, the pop-punk Rock and Roll Hall of Famers would bring the perspective of a band lauded for its efforts after the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. $31.50 and up. livenation.com.
Sept. 10, Al Lang Stadium
Ah, if only Left Eye was still around. Nevertheless, T-Boz and Chilli — who lead a '90s-themed package tour (Mark McGrath, All-4-One, more) stopping at this unconventional St. Pete venue — deserve one more shining moment in the sun, if only for persevering until now. $44.50 and up. themahaffey.com.
Sept. 13, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Remaking an '80s anthem requires at least one authentic '80s superstar. Getting Dave Gahan to convincingly sing "We are all a part of God's great big family" might be tough, but it'd be worth it. $29.50 and up. livenation.com.
Sept. 16, Jannus Live
We're giving synth-pop star Jack Antonoff the Quincy Jones spot in our chorus, thanks to his world-beating songwriting and production work for Taylor Swift, Lorde and his other band, Fun. $24 and up. jannuslive.com.
Sept. 20, Ruth Eckerd Hall
Honestly, it might not be long before Despacito actually outsells We Are the World. Better get him on this track ASAP, and beg him to call in Bieber, too. $53.25 and up. rutheckerdhall.com.
Mumford and Sons
Sept. 20, Amalie Arena
Making their long-awaited Tampa debut this fall are these English alt-folk troubadours, who would offer some mighty fine harmonies wherever you want to slot them. $41.25 and up. amaliearena.com.
Sept. 22, USF Sun Dome)
This anthemic Canadian-American alternative troupe has worked to raise awareness of plight in Haiti. They're definitely in. $35 and up. sundomearena.com.
Oct. 4, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
If his soulful beach-boy routine doesn't put listeners to sleep, it should at least lull them into a mindset of pure peace and love. $27 and up. livenation.com.
Florida Georgia Line
Oct. 13, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Now it's a party! Let country music's rowdiest brosephs show the world how we throw down in America! $25 and up. livenation.com.
Oct. 8, Orpheum
Every great collaboration needs one up-and-coming talent, and this year that's R&B singer SZA, whose acclaimed debut album CTRL has been so wildly acclaimed that this tiny club show sold out almost instantly. theorpheum.com.
Clearwater Jazz Holiday
Oct. 19-22, Coachman Park
All right, here's our ringer. No, it's not the Avett Brothers, Michael McDonald, the Temptations, the Four Tops or Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, although they'd all be great, too. It's Kenny Loggins, who actually sang on the original We Are the World! We'll even give him his old line ("We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving"), and encourage him to vamp it up as he did way back when. Tickets start at $16 per day, $52 for the weekend. clearwaterjazz.com.
Oct. 19, Amalie Arena
There is no song that Mr. Uptown Funk can't turn into a party, even a song like We Are the World. Sold out. amaliearena.com.
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
Oct. 20, Amalie Arena
The first couple of country music would be perfect — he's performed some of the most heartfelt tunes in recent country history, and she can sing the heck out of anything. $69.50 and up. amaliearena.com.
Nov. 10, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Let's give him the Willie Nelson/Bob Dylan slot in our new World order — that of the crusty outlaw who doesn't quite fit in with all the others, but sounds right at home nonetheless. $22.75 and up. livenation.com.
Dec. 1, Amalie Arena
Lady Gaga has nailed pretty much every big stage she's ever been given (Academy Awards, Super Bowl, Grammys), and sold out this show well in advance. She's a slam dunk. amaliearena.com.
Sting with the Florida Orchestra
Dec. 9, Mahaffey Theater
Sting appeared on Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas?, but not We Are the World. We're offering him a do-over before he headlines the Florida Orchestra's 50th anniversary gala. On sale to the public for $75 and up on Oct. 2. themahaffey.com.
Dec. 15, Amalie Arena
The final slot goes to one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Set off the fireworks and make 'em go oh, oh, oh as you shoot across the sky, girl. $45.75 and up. amaliearena.com.
The soloists weren't the only stars of We Are the World. The single's backing vocalists included Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Waylon Jennings and Lindsey Buckingham. In that spirit, here are some other upcoming shows not to overlook:
Social Distortion: Aug. 27, Jannus Live. Sold out.
Lil Wayne: Sept. 1, Jannus Live. $75 and up.
Manchester Orchestra: Sept. 6, Ritz Ybor. $20 and up.
Adam Ant: Sept. 8, Capitol Theatre. $39.50 and up.
Ruff Ryders Reunion: Sept. 8, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. $27 and up.
Steve Earle: Sept. 9, Capitol Theatre. $39.50 and up.
Bryan Adams: Sept. 10, Coachman Park. $20 and up.
2 Chainz: Sept. 15, Jannus Live. $42.50 and up.
Brad Paisley: Sept. 16, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. $24 and up.
Sammy Hagar and the Circle: Sept. 17, Coachman Park. $45 and up.
Nas: Sept. 21, Jannus Live. $43 and up.
Zac Brown Band: Sept. 24, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. $25 and up.
Sleeping With Sirens: Sept. 27, Orpheum. $22.25 and up.
Foster the People: Sept. 28, Ritz Ybor. $35 and up.
Mutemath: Sept. 30, Jannus Live. $22 and up.
PVRIS: Oct. 3, Ritz Ybor. $25 and up.
Chris Isaak: Oct. 3, Capitol Theatre. $89 and up.
Band of Horses: Oct. 6, Jannus Live. $29.50 and up.
Chris Thile: Oct. 11, Straz Center for the Performing Arts. $35.50 and up.
Scorpions: Oct. 15, Amalie Arena. $35.50 and up.
Big Pre-Fest in Little Ybor: Oct. 25-26, Ybor City. $70 and up.
Santana: Oct. 27, Amalie Arena. $66.25 and up.
Kings of Leon: Oct. 28, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, $24.50 and up.
Fall Out Boy: Nov. 5, Amalie Arena. $30.50 and up.
Bruce Hornsby: Nov. 7, Mahaffey Theater. $55 and up.
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson: Nov. 9, Mahaffey Theater. $35.95 and up.
Ribfest: Nov. 10-12, Vinoy Park. Onsale Oct. 5.
Randy Newman: Nov. 19, Capitol Theatre. $39.25.
Brian Setzer Orchestra: Nov. 28, Ruth Eckerd Hall. $52.75 and up.
John Prine: Nov. 15, Ruth Eckerd Hall. $67 and up.