Let’s Cast The Coronavirus-Relief “We Are The World”

Let’s Cast The Coronavirus-Relief “We Are The World”

In 1985, some of the world’s biggest pop stars got together to record “We Are The World,” a terrible song intended to raise money for African famine relief. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the song, and many of the figures of the American pop establishment showed up to sing on it.

In an interview with People earlier this week, Lionel Richie talked about how he initially didn’t want to make a big deal out of the 35th anniversary of “We Are The World”: “Two weeks ago, we said we didn’t want to do too much [about the song] because this is not the time to sell an anniversary. But the message is so clear.” The source of clarity is the coronavirus pandemic, and now Richie is thinking about the idea of bringing the song back: “What happened in China, in Europe, it came here. So if we don’t save our brothers there, it’s going to come home. It’s all of us. All of us are in this together.”

There’s already been one “We Are The World” revival: A 2010 version intended to benefit survivors of the Haitian earthquake. That version is one of the worst things that has ever happened, and we will not speak of it again. Instead, let’s do our part in this crisis by helping Lionel Richie put together the ideal cast of circa-now pop stars to jump on a revived “We Are The World.”

Let’s take into account the 1985 pop landscape and the 2020 one, as well as the list of artists who would probably say yes to this. Let’s use it to figure out which musicians should replace the original stars. If Michael Jackson wouldn’t record in the room with everyone else, there’s no reason why we couldn’t do this whole thing remotely. (Come to think of it, maybe the Gal Gadot “Imagine” was already the coronavirus-era “We Are The World.”)

On the original “We Are The World,” 21 singers had solos. Scientifically comparing the pop landscapes of two different eras, we’re going to figure out exactly who should fill in for all the original stars. We’re not going to explain any of our choices. (We’re not going to recast all the people in the “We Are The World” chorus, though Jeremy Renner should obviously fill the Dan Aykroyd random-actor-slash-wannabe-musician spot.) Lionel Richie was one of the original soloists, and he’ll get to reprise his role again, since the whole thing was his idea. (Tough luck for Ed Sheeran, the circa-2020 version of Lionel Richie.) Here’s how he should recast all the other 20 soloists:

• Stevie Wonder: Beyoncé
• Paul Simon: Lana Del Rey
• Kenny Rogers: Lil Nas X
• James Ingram: Khalid
• Tina Turner: Gucci Mane
• Billy Joel: Post Malone
• Michael Jackson: Drake
• Diana Ross: Lil Wayne
• Dionne Warwick: Lady Gaga
• Willie Nelson: Wiz Khalifa
• Al Jarreau: James Blake
• Bruce Springsteen: Ariana Grande
• Kenny Loggins: Quavo
• Steve Perry: Harry Styles
• Daryl Hall: Swae Lee
• Huey Lewis: Lizzo
• Cyndi Lauper: Lil Uzi Vert
• Kim Carnes: Sia
• Bob Dylan: Billie Eilish
• Ray Charles: Bruce Springsteen

Also, Rihanna should play the crucial Prince role of “person who initially agrees to be on this but then turns out to be too cool to show up.”

more from Sounding Board