Since the Winter Olympics debut of “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” featuring Lil Wayne, Pink, Kanye West, Fergie and 80 more singers, over 6.5 million people have watched the Paul Haggis-directed video on its official YouTube page. With its modern take on the original track’s production and a new rap interlude, the new version of the iconic 1985 charity single is drawing mixed reaction from all corners of the Internet — 67,000 comments have already been posted on YouTube and Rolling Stone‘s blog lit up with responses after the song’s premiere during Friday night’s opening ceremony in Vancouver.
One of the most famous voices in the mix is Jay-Z, who told MTV that the original version was too sacred to him. “I think ‘We Are the World’ is like [Michael Jackson’s] ‘Thriller’ to me. I don’t ever wanna see it touched.” He added, “Some things are just untouchable. It was a valiant effort, but for me, it’s gonna be untouchable.”
Rolling Stone readers‘ main critique is that the new lineup doesn’t boast enough high-profile rockers. “This version does not hold a candle to the original which was composed primarily of A-list performers, many who are now in the Rock Hall of Fame,” JD writes. “The original had individuals. That’s the key thing, from the moment the original starts you know who everyone is, very distinct voices,” adds Chris.
Lionel Richie’s response? “What’s a classic? To the next generation, it’s just an old song,” he told USA Today. “Why not bring in Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers and let them address the issues? We can pass the baton and empower the next generation to take up arms and have a legacy with this.”
Readers also griped over the track’s use of Auto-Tune (Akon, T-Pain and Lil Wayne’s vocals all feature the studio hallmark) and the addition of the rap interlude, which the producers referred to as a “Greek chorus.” Richie tells USA Today rockers were the voice of opposition in the original, but “Now the radicals and bad boys and messengers are rappers. We had to add that to give it freshness.”
Despite the critiques, readers praised Pink, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Celine Dion’s solos, the touch of originality Kanye West added to the track and the too-brief, heartwarming moment where Michael and Janet Jackson sing side by side. “OK, Pink killed it. Awesome and somewhat unexpected. Celine Dion, incredible. It was tasteful to leave Michael Jackson in it too,” writes T Bone.
Watch the original “We Are the World” below, and let us know what you think about “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” in our comments: