'We Are the World' remake for Haiti debuts during Olympics opening ceremony: What did you think?

The all-star twenty-fifth anniversary cover of “We Are the World” just debuted on NBC as part of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. At last, we got to hear the sound of everyone from Barbra Streisand to Kanye West to Vince Vaughn lifting their voices as one to help raise funds for earthquake relief in Haiti. Director Paul Haggis (Crash) filmed the production. Clearly, there was no shortage of talent involved, and it was for a most deserving cause. So how did the new “World” turn out?

The proceedings opened on a weak note, to this critic’s ears at least, with pint-sized pop star Justin Bieber’s thin voice. (Sorry, Bieber fans.) Things improved somewhat as soon as Jennifer Hudson came in on the following line. And then we were off: Josh Groban! Jennifer Nettles! Nicole Scherzinger?! Seeing Michael Jackson duet posthumously with his sister Janet (using old footage from the original “We Are the World”) should have been touching but felt a little uncomfortable instead. Soon, Lil Wayne Auto-Tune wheezed his way through Bob Dylan’s lines from the original, something I’ve been waiting to hear since I read that it was coming; Weezy didn’t disappoint, delivering the remake’s most memorable moment by far, though admittedly in a WTF sort of way. As for the random huddle of rappers that followed — will.i.am, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J and more all chanting some bland lyrics together — the less said of that, the better. Finally, as the song drew to a close, Kanye West and will.i.am exchanged some well-meant if underwhelming rhymes (“Feeling like the world’s end, we can make the world win”). Some more choral vocals, a few eloquent cries from Wyclef Jean, and that was it. Vince Vaughn did not get a solo turn, which is a good or a bad thing depending on your perspective.

All in all, I can’t say this new “We Are the World” measured up to the 1985 version. But perhaps you’ll disagree? Watch an extended version of the performance below, buy the song on iTunes, or visit the We Are the World Foundation online to donate to Haiti relief. Then let us know what you thought of “We Are the World” in the comments, below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Tonight’s “We Are the World” update: Watch footage from inside the recording
John Mayer is very sorry about his explicit sexual and racial comments; do you believe him?
Janelle Monae walks a funky ‘Tightrope’ with Big Boi
Sugarland’s new Olympic single goes for the gold: Watch an exclusive preview here!
Linkin Park’s stark Haiti video: Watch ‘Not Alone’ here

Comments (601 total) Add your comment
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  • jake

    Is there a list somewhere of who was involved? I don’t even know some of the singers.

    • Cathy

      Hi, could someone tell me who the female singer is in the beginning, between Jennifer Hudson, and Josh Groban? Thanks!

      • Jackie

        It was the lead singer of that country band, Sugarland.

      • tvgirl48

        Yeah who the heck was that?

      • tvgirl48

        Oh, thanks

      • Cathy

        Thanks Jackie, do you know her name?

      • DaniVt

        Jennifer Nettles

      • Sara

        I ♥ Jennifer Nettles.

      • Patrick

        That was Jennifer Nettles from the Country Group Sugarland…
        You might remember her from the duet with Bon Jovi “Who said you can’tt go home”.

      • Marion

        Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland :) i think shes amazing

    • Ha Ha Haïti

      Akon, Bono, India.Arie, Patti Austin, Tony Bennett, Justin Bieber, Bizzy Bone, Ethan Bortnick, Brandy, Jeff Bridges, Toni Braxton, Zac Brown, Kristian Bush, Busta Rhymes, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr., Kid Cudi, Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Earth Wind & Fire, Faith Evans, Fergie, Melanie Fiona, Jamie Foxx, Sean Garrett, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Groban, Anthony Hamilton, Keri Hilson, Julianne Hough, Jennifer Hudson, Enrique Iglesias, LL Cool J, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Taj Jackson, Taryll Jackson, TJ Jackson, Al Jardine, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Nick Jonas, Rashida Jones, Gladys Knight, Adam Levine, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Mary Mary, Katharine McPhee, Jason Mraz, Mýa, Jennifer Nettles, Orianthi, Freda Payne, P!nk, A. R. Rahman, Nicole Richie, Raphael Saadiq, Carlos Santana, Nicole Scherzinger, Isaac Slade, Trey Songz, Musiq Soulchild, Jordin Sparks, Barbra Streisand, Swizz Beatz, T-Pain, Robin Thicke, Rob Thomas, Usher, Vince Vaughn, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Will.i.am, Ann Wilson, Brian Wilson, Nancy Wilson and BeBe Winan

    • Neet

      Yes. It is on the official full length video. There is a tab at the top to click on which gives the names of the singers.

      • Sarah

        Don’t you know what spam is? “Cute” is not a real person, whatever it is posts random messages over online message boards. They’re a waste of space.

    • Redeye

      I remember getting goose bumps when the original was released. Even then, many grest singers were left out. Now once again, it is who you know, or maybe just who was available. Why stick in actors and people with no talent–just so embarassing!! Where was Barry Manilow,Elton John, Bette Midler, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert–too many to name, and many were left out of the original version as well. I guess it is “who you know”, and who is in the “in crowd” of the producers and friends. I know this is for a good cause, but sometimes you have to honor the original and not try to remake it. They should have had the Jackson Brothers at least singing with that gigantic group-I know that there is friction there, but it is a snub. I understand that some singers were not availabe(they could have been added on later!!)I have heard that some did not want this to be re-made. It is for a good cause, and you can’t please everyone, but we sould all speak up and demand fo hear the talented singers!!!

      • Neet

        I personally like both versions of the song! Wish everyone would remember the other golden rule: If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say notin’ at all!

      • AcaseofGeo

        Redeye, Bette Midler was in the chorus of the first one. Also, the first one was more “who is in town right now” after the American Music Awards in 1985. So no one was really left out on purpose. This one, they had a little bit more time to prepare but really it was still also, “who’s in town and who’s available right now”.

      • dctoronto

        ACASEOFGEO: Bette Midler has a funny line in her stand up CD about being stuck beside Latoya Jackson.

      • Carin

        What is this?! The question “What did you think?” suggesting to compare this version to the last, is the wrong question! You missed the whole message and feeling when you critique/judge this. It’s like going to Haiti and asking/ thinking/saying “How do you think the people are handling their circumstance?” Be a part of the change/solution not adding to it’s problem! If you reach way down into your heart, you will find it! This wasn’t done to be “perfect”, to be “better” or have the “best”! If this is what you respond to, then you’ve missed out on much, including lifes meaning! We ALL are GOD’s children! To the one who presented the question, I have one for you “Don’t you get it?!”

      • LAJackie

        @Neet: The purpose of these comments is to say what you think of the video. Personally I preferred the original. They should re-release it and let you choose which one you want to buy.

      • crispy lover

        I thought it was pretty good until Wyclef decided to impersonate a goat.

      • Preston

        Maybe those singers were unavailable or had other commitments and couldn’t make it to the recording. And a lot of actors like Vince Vaughn and Jeff Bridges wanted to take part in this song, just be part of the big chorus. And I agree with you, would have been magical to see the Jackson brothers in that song as a way to honor their brother Michael, but they were unavailable.

      • RJ

        we are the world is classic and untouchable…. the organizers should have put more effort in to trying to at least measure up to the original…

    • Neet

      This blog is about the remake of “We are the World”! Not about your love life!

    • Kristyn

      This seemed like a really bad SNL skit. It should have stated in the beginning “SNL Digital Short” and had an appearance by Andy Samberg.

      • just me

        It was dreck. Justin Beiber????? They had a lot of talent there and they gave him the opening???? I understand Wyclefs emotions but he was painful. And please do not insult Andy and his brilliant digital shorts.

      • AveryIsabella.

        i think Justin Bieber did the best of anyone in this song.

    • Issac

      Oh my gosh sugar – what’s your name? That’s so sad. Do you have a brain for science? Good with conversation? Oh, or are you… one of the other girls, loaded with flaws that we all see but they don’t – or can’t!

    • Michael Marino

      The Remake of “We Are The World” Was GARBAGE. Michael Jackson must be turning in his grave. The first half of the song was bad and just when you thought it couldn’t get worse..Add the strange noises the Rap stars started to make, Just adding Rap took away from the song. Ruined is all I can say!!

      • America3

        The question is: Do you like the new We Are the World? And my answer is absolutely not…between the rap, the autotune (for people who can’t sing) and the squealing (Wyclef)…it was ruined.. My thoughts on it is…would someone try and redo the Mona Lisa..no because it was perfect the way it was..you don’t mess with perfection especially if you are making a mockery out of it.. I can’t believe that Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones went along with this and actually released the finished product..There was no heart in the remaking, just a lot of yuck…

      • Jerv

        My friends, this is a result of the crap we have begun to call music. All melodromatic facial warbling, style over substance, and “artists” who can’t write lyrics, write music, or play instruments (with too few exceptions). That’s the difference between the original and this one.

      • Sue

        Maybe the original has too many connections to me that this new version pales in comparison. I knew just about all the singers 25 years ago and now…well, could recognize about 5. But isn’t that the way it is for many of us with remakes of songs (and movies) that had deep meanings for us?

      • RJ

        The rap part is what made it worse, sorry but rapping is not soothing to my ears…

      • RZman

        Even when pleasant words are added to it RAP still sounds violent

    • Michael Marino

      You can find a list of the Artist at their home address…The Helen Keller School for the Deaf…HEHEHE

    • Amy

      Sure there were a whole list of singers I would have loved to be on the last one AND this one, but the fact is, you have to go with what you have or it’ll never get done. Plain and simple. Haiti needs help NOW, not a month from now when Justin Timberlake and Elton John can make it. Love, love, LOVE that MJ was left in. The effort made on this would have moved him tremendously. Buy it everyone and post it on your facebook pages and spread the word. The baton’s been handed off to us. If you can’t donate, at least spread the word. Do whatever you can. Haiti needs our help.

      • MJ Fan

        Well said Amy!!!! I preferred the original, but as you said, the most important point of this effort is to raise money for Haiti. Re-releasing this song with new artists only made sense. I’m also glad they included Michael’s part from the original version and I liked Janet singing with her brother. Although her appearance is very brief and she looks so somber. It’s very understandable but also a little uncomfortable. I just wish they had done the video of her differently. Instead of head-on I wish they had done a 3/4 shot of her singing into the microphone, as with the other singers. They could have her slightly facing Michael in the split screen shot. Either way, my heart goes out to her.

      • MJ Fan

        What I meant by “new” artists was people who weren’t on the original, other than Michael of course.

      • MJ Fan

        I changed my mind. I’ve listened to it again and really enjoyed it despite what many have said here!! Also, Janet doesn’t look as somber as I thought. She looks great, but it is hard to hear her. J. Hudson was amazing and I was cool with the rap section but didn’t like Wyclef’s annoying warbling. Certainly not as good as the original but I still could enjoy the new flavors this version came in.

    • vbresd

      So, Jennifer Nettles then, it the only one I found interesting this time around. It seemed like just a collection of singers, one after the other, without any attempt at making it interesting. The rap section failed. I would have thought with so much talent that they would have put an interesting spin on it that wasn’t like dropping a rap sectin in the middle. I guess that might be the problem with having it produced by the same guys that produced the original.

    • Justin

      cause your lame

    • Justin

      Search “We Are The World Haiti” in Wikipedia, they have the full list of solos and chorus singers.

  • Cody

    Fail! It was all over the place. Too much emphasis on hip/hop. Can’t come close to the original!

  • Jen

    Can I promise to give Haiti more money to make this remake go away? How awful. JHud was the only redeeming part. Wish I could have heard Pink and some of the others. Who thought Bieber was a good idea?

    • Jane

      EXACTLY–Justin Beiber? I mean, really?!

      • Al

        That was my exact reaction- except I threw a couple of expletives in there too…..

      • Jennifer

        Exactly! Him and Miley Cyrus…don’t like them.

      • AveryIsabella.

        Justin Bieber was the only reason i watched.

    • yukoner2

      really? seriously??? Why do people think that blogs are places that they can say crap like this. Donate already. At least these people are doing something

      • aaron

        Please. A lot of us have donated. Why can’t we be honest about crap when we see it? This thing is a big ego trip. At least they were able to nab massive music talents like Vince Vaughan.

      • Sally in Chicago

        I donated what little I could. As for the video, at least they brought it updated with the rappers and some beats. But like a lot of others, I didn’t know half the people on camera singing.
        I think it was overkill to invite EVERY FREAKING BODY who records in the music industry into the studio….bad choice. The first one, had a small 30-35 representation and this one has 81!!!!!
        Who got left out of camera range?

      • Neet

        PREACH IT SISTA!

      • DAV

        Yukoner2, this blog is here explicitly for people to say things like that. Read the last line “LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT…” And we are. Just because something is for a good cause doesn’t mean we “HAVE” to like it. I personally hated it.

      • Robert

        uhhh I donated. And I think this remake sucked.

      • adamfan

        “At least these people are doing something”. Haha, “these people” are getting massive exposure for a few hours of work. Remember the premiere of this song was before the Olympics, something that a good chunk of the world sees. The song was terrible. Starting it with a young boy who cannot sing but will sell because of young girls was a silly move on the part of the organizers. The Michael Jackson part was very sweet, Celine Dion needs to stop with this constant drama and I could barely understand a word of Kanye.

      • just me

        OOOH doing something. Appearing in a video. OOOOH

    • Stephanie Tanner

      None of these singers are any good, the original had actual talent. If they wanted real talent, where was Renee Olstead?

      • eliott256

        Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Jennifer Hudson and P!nk can all most definitely sing my dear

      • Niix Starkyller

        Not to mention some young upstarts named Gladys and Barbra.

      • GoMe!

        Who is Renee Olstead?

        And I agree with elliot!

    • Neet

      I personally like both versions of the song! Wish everyone would remember thE OTHER GOLDEN RULE: If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say notin’ at all!

      • Louise

        That’s right, people! No opinions or constructive criticism allowed!

      • Dinjab

        Yeah, no haters!!!

        Whatever…Justin Bieber sounded like a shot puppy that needed to be put down. The whole song was lost after the first five seconds. Quincy Jones should be put down for allowing that travesty.

    • anib

      Can music producers stop trying to make Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls happen? Seriously? They showed a sht of her and I said “Why is Kim Kardashian there? Is she the Dan Akroyd of this version?” (Turns out no, that goes to either Jeff Bridges or Vince Vaughn.) It wasn’t until say the tenth shot of the camera being placed in just such a way to make sure she was in frame that I realised who she actually was.

    • mads

      Uh Miley Cyrus?! I think I speak for the whole country when I say she is not and will never be “the world.”

  • Adam

    What was Vince Vaughn doing there?

    • Jen

      He was filling the Dan Aykroyd role.

      • Kaiulani

        What about Jeff Bridges? I thought he was in for Dan.

      • forrest

        my thought exactly Jen!

      • Maggie

        Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar this year for a role in which he sings. The sad part is that he can sing better than a lot of the “professional” singers/rappers used in this song.

    • Sally in Chicago

      Vince Vaughn was there? Where?

  • Anna

    why no opening ceremonies live blog? sure this ranks as a pop culture moment- especially if you covered the Superbowl in such detail

    • Heidi

      I watched the whole opening ceremony and did not see this song! When was it (did only US channels edit it in and edit out something else)?

      • LOL

        It aired on NBC about 15 minutes or so before the Opening Ceremony actually started. NBC was on the air for 90 minutes before the Opening Ceremony began.

  • nate

    I know it’s for a good cause and all, but I’ve just always thought it was a lame song. Kanye West kind of made it for me though.

    • Ha Ha Haïti

      I liked the song!

    • Sally in Chicago

      I agree with Nate. It’s a singable song, but out of all the “original” World Charity songs, this one is the lamest lyric wise. Music wise it has a nice melody.
      and the raps near the end were catchy….but the auto tuning….I’m a little sick of all the auto tuning. Overkill!

      • Jelana

        COMPLETELY agree about auto tuning. That needs to go away forever.

  • Jennifer in San Diego

    Auto tune ruins everything.

    • GOB

      ugh. yes, it does. I think they even auto-tuned Celine. the rapping was cringe worthy, too. so nice to see the super-relevant Barbra Streisand made the cut (WTF?) And way to go Wyclef, to go that extra mile to ruin the whole song with that crazy warbling. yuck. what a mess.

      • kb

        Wyclef was terrible. I get that he’s Hatian but he sounded awful.

    • sunny

      autotune has it’s place (like partying at a club) but his is NOT it, i was also pretty put off by jamie foxx doing his ray charles impersonation! WTF!

      • MJ Fan

        Totally agree!

  • Levente

    I’m sorry… was that a hip-hop remix in the middle? Plffft. (How do you make a raspberry sound??) And I’m pretty sure Lil Wayne used auto-tune. Ugh. I thought that thing died.

    • tvgirl48

      I know! It was fine until then for me. Nothing great, but nothing painful until that! I guess it was for all the semi-famous rap ppl who can’t sing for real. It was quite the shift in tone.

  • Me

    Wow. I can’t believe how awful this is! It’s pure crap!

  • lettergirl

    oh…my…gawd. that was one of the most PAINFUL experiences of my ENTIRE life. i don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but they need to be locked in a room with some of those so called ‘singers’ and be forced to listen to them ad nauseum for putting this crap out there. it was SO bad i don’t even know where to begin. just please, make it go AWAY!!!!!

    • ger

      then you have had an easy life

  • Jerry

    That song sucked. Half of it was wasted with rap. No Miley Cyrus solo?

    • mariecar

      wasn’t that miley singing solo after barbra streisand?…

      • Cal

        It was – swine AFTER pearls.

      • April C

        I thought it was Fergie? They showed Miley a few times but I didn’t think she solo’d.

      • naima

        fergie sang after celine dion (very anti-climactic if i may say so….)

      • Sara

        That was Mandy Moore after Barbra.

      • Missy

        No, that was definitely Miley. And it was painful. On another note, the auto-tune made me want to cry….not from happiness, but from shame that this is what is considered “singing.”

      • Your Servant

        Really people? You hate on Miley Cyrus re this remake? She sounded fine. She is who you focus on when there is a horrible Ray Charles impersonation; a goat Wyclef being slaughtered, autotuning tpainful and lil wayne; celine trying to sing under lionel’s fake conducting; beiber bad; nettles creepy. Was their goal to make a racist rap video putting down white singers? Sue me, but my op is this sucked and poor Quincy must have alzheimers to allow this joke.

      • Shawn

        OMG, poor Miley, who really isn’t much of a singer, having to go on after Barbra Streisand. Talk about having your shortcomings on display for the whole world to hear. Pearls before Swine indeed!

        Okay, I do also agree that it was weird for Jamie Foxx to do Ray Charles.

        In general, it’s cool that this is for Haiti. I hope it makes a lot of money, but as music, it’s just too much of everything. And I think it sucks that they seemed to feature the young stars over the legends. Like why didn’t Gladys Knight have a solo and Miley did?

        Also, who is that boy/girl at the beginning with the bowl cut? I had NO idea. Why didn’t they start this with Michael Jackson’s audio? I was expecting that. It would have made sense and been appropriate.

  • norma

    I love the remake. All the stars did a super job. The song sounds great!!!

    • Sally in Chicago

      The video had too many singers…it was overkilll….the original had about 30-35 people and was very efficient….and they elongated the song to get everybody in….what was originally 5 minuts is now 9 minutes!

      • Shawn

        I completely agree!

    • Michael Marino

      Norma, You need a hearing aid because if you thought that song was grat you must be DEAF…LMAO

    • just me

      Really? So you like the slaughtered goat singing? Do you live on a farm?

  • David D

    I feel so old. I hardly recognized anyone. But honestly, I thought this was a chaotic mess — poorly mixed, and the singers didn’t even seem to be singing in unison. And then to be told that this wasn’t even the “full” version? No thanks.

    • Kiki

      couldn’t agree more.

    • MsSuniDaze

      Perfect was to describe it – chaotic mess. It was such a mess…nothing worked together. Was the intent supposed to make me laugh? And auto-tune, really? The reason for this was for a good cause, but it didn’t have to make every style of music possible involved.

      • Sally in Chicago

        It was a mess because THERE WERE 81 SINGERS!!! OVERKILL….TOO MUCH….

    • Stephanie

      Don’t feel old, I’m 25 and I can recognize a lot more people in the original than the new one.

      • RIPMJJ_MKD

        hahahaha im 20 and i can also recognize more ppl in the original….

      • edge

        Totally agree. New one sucks. Old one had icons

    • amber

      It really was a mess. Who picked the singers? This is the kind of instance where you say “It’s the thought that counts.”

      • DN

        I applaud everyone’s participation but it just seemed to lack emotion like the first one had. Missing too many relevant artists that could’ve linked the original to this one.

      • tipsy

        Nah, it’s the thought that never should have been thunk.

      • Sally in Chicago

        DN makes a good point. The original had “emotion”….this one you didn’t feel people were connecting.

    • Amy

      They didn’t do the song justice whatsoever. After listening to this new version, I immediately went and listened to the original version.
      Also, who thought it was a good idea to have Justin Bieber take over Lionel Richie’s part and start the song? Ugh, horrible from start to finish.

    • Emma

      I couldn’t agree with you more David. I will be donating money to support Haiti but it won’t be through buying this horrible song.

    • GregR

      Dave, it’s not that you’re old. It’s just that the singers of today are a bunch of nobodys and forgettable. I didn’t know who most of them were. That kid who started the song was awful.

  • Keith

    Really??? With all that talent they couldn’t come up with a NEW song? Really???
    Did it really need auto tune? Really???
    Sorry, I’ll pass on this.

    • alexandra

      seriously – i turned to my sister and said, this is like hollywood’s recent obsession of remaking classic movies…can’t they come up with something original for once? wtf is wrong with the entertainment world as a whole that no one has as single original idea anymore?? sheesh. plus, isn’t it a little insulting to the relief efforts in haiti that they just re-used a song created specifically for live aid (it was live aid, yes?)?

    • Rich

      Somewhere in the next life, Michael Jackson and Ray Charles are laughing their asses off…

      Run-DMC are wondering why they didn’t get an invite back in 1985…

      And Wycelf is just glad to be in the news for the first time since the ’90s.

    • April C

      The whole thing felt like Quincy Jones etc were just waiting for SOME excure, ANY excure to re-release this mess for the 25th anniversary of the original.

      • April C

        “excuse” rather!

    • So agree

      Couldn’t agree more. The original was a classic — should have left it alone. Just another proof that the music industry is all out of good ideas.

  • Rachel

    okay in what universe do you have Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole and say, no lets give Little Wayne the mic instead? Couldn’t they have just re-released the 1st song and video versus this. Boo

    • Yvette

      I love your statement, “in what universe do you live”…what a true statement. I loved the first one because it came as a moment of enlightenment for us as a society to give using a different vehicle to reach our generation. Though there were some positive moments, I agree with Jay-Z…some things should not be touched. Create another vehicle and don’t wait until part of the team dies to use it no matter what the disaster may be. 3-T represented the Jackson’s and that was good. Janet…we need to leave her alone. She’s tired of singing beside her brother or just sad. Either way, Prince and Paris are going to grow up and speak for themselves and in behalf of their dad. Let’s give them a chance to do that. Blessings to you all…and to you Michael.

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