“I’ll Give You my Wallet if You Just Shut the Hell Up!”:”We Are the World” Part II.

20 02 2010

Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you on the pressing issue of terrible benefit songs, folks. Not that anyone’s reading, anyway. If you haven’t read my first post on “We are the World,” you’re doing things backwards. Start again, and this time pay more attention. First up, we have two more awards to hand out.

The “Dancing with a Dirt Devil” Award for Least-Alive Performer

  • 1985: This was a tough category, since all the performers in the 1985 version were clearly not dead. Since that criterion has been thrown out the window, I award it to Jeffery Osborne for being a complete non-entity. Did you know that Jeffery Osborne was the lead singer for R&B group “L.T.D.”? Have you even heard of “L.T.D.” before? Me neither. This was a close race between Osborne and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham, but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors went novemdecuple platinum. That number’s so big that spell check doesn’t like it. (Note: Jeffrey Osborne is the second most searched Jeffery on YouTube. After Jeffery Dahmer. So I guess I should eat my words.)
  • 2010: Easy! Michael Jackson. Did you have time to forget about Micheal Jackson? Me neither, but they decided to recycle some old footage of him singing just in case you lost your short term memory in a railroad accident. I think it’s a sacrilege that they made Fred Astaire dance with that vacuum cleaner, but I think this is pretty funny. I hope this sets precendent, and that Michael Jackson is being used as a Skittles pitchman within a week. (Scary thought: Do you think Michael’s dead or undead? I hear he wasn’t like the other guys.)

The “Oh, Come on Award” for Exploitation of Good Intentions

  • 1985: People have been questioning Bob Dylan since before he went electric. Admittedly, in that time period, he’s made some pretty questionable decisions, but this one takes the cake. Come on Bob Dylan! You don’t have to perform just because it’s for a good cause. I know you’re an artist with morals, but you’re also an artist. As a person who has participated in the creation of actual music, you had to know “We are the World” was crap while you were doing it, right?
  • 2010: I’ve got to call this one a tie. On the one hand, we have Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. I don’t like the Beach Boys, but I understand their place in music history. The Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds was a watershed album, and Wilson was the creative mastermind behind it. Now, a couple of breakdowns later, Brian Wilson is standing in a crowd with Vince Vaughn and some entity named Trey Songz. I’m not sure which one of Wilson’s personalities showed up to this recording session, but I hope it was one without much self-respect.

    Secondly, we have precocious child-prodigy Ethan Bortnick. Sure, he’s a musical genius and philanthropist, but he’s only 9 years old. There’s no way he could fully understand how terrible “We Are the World” could be. We can’t expect him to make these decisions on his own, even though he’s accomplished more at age 9 than I ever will. (It was kind of depressing to type that. At least I can buy beer.)

Conclusions

This concludes our award ceremony. The question still remains, however, which version of this terrible song is worse. I don’t believe that any one man has the capacity to completely understand the rottenness of either of these songs individually, never mind trying to think of them comparatively. With that in mind, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out some relevant facts, and let you form your own opinions.

  • Jay-Z was disappointed with the “We are the World” remake, saying that he thought the original was “untouchable.” I agree, but it was “untouchable” less in a “sacred and revered” way and more in a “lowest member of a caste system” way.
  • The 2010 featured three singers using Autotune. And they were all in a row, performing one right after the other. What’s the point of having three different people sing in an identical cyborg voice? There was also gratuitous use of pitch-correcting software for many other performers.
  • Jamie Foxx performed the painfully long introduction speech. Then he got his own solo line. Then he got another solo line doing his Ray Charles impression. Maybe the just should have called this “Jamie Foxx’s ‘We Are the World” featuring Jamie Foxx.”
  • The 2010 version featured a 17% decrease in the number of Jacksons performing, not counting American Idol judge Randy Jackson. As we all know, the original Jackson 5 were five Jacksons too many.
  • The 2010 version featured a total of nine singers with only one name. The 1985 version featured zero. I think the evidence speaks for itself, here.
  • Fergie apparently recorded her part of the song days in advance at a remote location. That means someone had the chance to cut out Fergie’s performance. That means someone literally sat down and thought, “You know what will improve this song? Fergie.” A chilling image, to be sure.
  • Considering that Quincy Jones, et al. appear to be courting the tween set with performers the likes of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift’s absence seems almost conspicuous. Maybe the universe will implode if she and Kanye appear in the same room together again. Or maybe she just can’t perform songs that aren’t about ponies and rainbows.
  • In a similar vein, Kanye was reportedly very proud of his contribution to the “We are the World” video, but was quick to point out that Beyoncé had one of the greatest videos of all time

And that’s all I got. I think next time Quincy Jones wants to raise money, he should just hold us hostage with the threat of another benefit song. It’s much more humane that way. If he wants to prove he’s serious, he can release a tentative list of performers. I would have been reaching for my checkbook long before I even got to Miley Cyrus’s name.

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