“We Are the World — 25 for Haiti” is set to premiere on Friday night (February 12) during the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Vancouver. The song features appearances by a number of artists including Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, Jordin Sparks, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Pink — along with some newly added artists who won’t be revealed until the remake airs. But while we wait for the debut of the Haiti benefit, organized by Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones, we have a preview from the people behind the song.
“I just keep the class of the original one,” producer RedOne told MTV News , explaining how “We Are the World” would differ from the club tracks he’s made with artists like Lady Gaga. “But I didn’t want to change any course. I didn’t want to mess it up, because it’s too good. I tried to keep it on the same level and tried to make it sound more now and current. I kept the whole chord progressions, the feeling and the vibe, but brought fresher sounds that are more now.”
One update that the original didn’t include, however, is a heavy rap presence, with Wayne, West, Will.I.Am, T-Pain, Bizzy Bone, Kid Cudi, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Mann, Nipsey Hussle, Busta Rhymes and Swizz Beatz all lending their voices to the track. Wyclef Jean also said he added a “Haitian influence” to the song.
The video’s director, Paul Haggis , also spoke to MTV News about his involvement in the project and admitted he “embraced the chaos” of shooting everyone from Celine Dion to Kanye West, most of whom recorded the track on February 1 in Los Angeles.
“You hear these stories about people checking their egos at the door, and it really is true,” the “Crash” director explained. “They came and stood forever and were glorified extras a lot of the time. They just stood in the corner and waved.”
Even in a room full of stars, the participants put the cause, helping raise money for Haiti’s earthquake recovery, above all else. “It was hot and it was crowded,” Haggis said, but as a director, he was almost disappointed by how well everyone got along. “When there’s chaos, there’s friction. Where there’s fiction, there’s drama, and I knew I’d have fun things to shoot. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much drama as I expected. People really got along very well.”
The video was shot in 3-D , and green-screen technology will eventually allow viewers at home to place themselves in the chorus. “You would think we have a full-blown motion picture going in there,” Richie marveled at a press conference earlier this month. “We have 3-D cameras, we have Technicolor cameras, we have every imaginable form of technology. You can put yourself into the ‘We Are the World’ family from the computer.”
The other “We Are the World” artists include Miley Cyrus, Wyclef Jean, Jamie Foxx, Josh Groban, Keri Hilson, Zac Brown Band, Akon, Brandy, Melanie Fiona, Mya, Musiq Soulchild, Katharine McPhee, Trey Songz, Faith Evans, Joel and Benji Madden, members of Sugarland, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Mraz, India.Arie, Mary Mary, Tyrese Gibson, Raphael Saadiq, Rob Thomas, Usher, the Fray’s Isaac Slade, pianist Ethan Bortnick, Enrique Iglesias, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5′s Adam Levine, the Jonas Brothers, Nicole Scherzinger, Julianne Hough, Barbra Streisand, Carlos Santana, Natalie Cole, BeBe Winans, Orianthi, Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson, Freda Payne, Harry Connick Jr., Earth, Wind & Fire, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, Tony Bennett, composer A.R. Rahman, “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, Patti Austin and Gladys Knight. Actors Jeff Bridges, Vince Vaughn and Jimmy Jean-Louis were there, as well as some “WATW” offspring: Nicole Richie (Lionel’s daughter), “Parks and Recreation” star Rashida Jones (Quincy’s daughter) and the members of 3T (the sons of Tito Jackson), Taj, Taryll and TJ Jackson.
All proceeds from “We Are the World” singles and video sales will go to the newly formed charity We Are the World Foundation LLC and will then be distributed to Haiti relief efforts.