The video of “We Are the World: 25 for Haiti” premiered Friday night (February 12) during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The new incarnation of the 1985 song sticks closely to the arrangement of the original, but the cast is much larger and, of course, much more contemporary.
On television, the song was introduced by a message from original “We Are the World” principals Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones, who urged viewers to contribute via World25.org, iTunes or by texting “World” to 50555.
A tightly edited version of the video was aired on Friday night, but the long version is available now on iTunes.
That version is introduced by [artist id="7590"]Jamie Foxx[/artist], who sets the scene, talking about the original recording and then the new version, the video of which was directed by “Crash” director Paul Haggis. “Do more than just watch,” Foxx says. “Whatever you have, no matter how big or how small, it all counts.”
The video features footage from the song’s recording session intercut with scenes of rebuilding efforts in Haiti. Justin Bieber opens , singing [artist id="15109"]Lionel Richie’s[/artist] verse from the original, and is quickly followed by [artist id="1632950"]Nicole Scherzinger[/artist] and [artist id="2481017"]Jennifer Hudson[/artist] singing together, then [artist id="1244042"]Sugarland[/artist] singer Jennifer Nettles, [artist id="1225988"]Josh Groban[/artist], and then footage of [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] from the original recording superimposed with sister [artist id="1090"]Janet[/artist] duetting on the first verse of the chorus. [artist id="501071"]Barbra Streisand[/artist], [artist id="1234831"]Fergie[/artist], a wailing [artist id="1060"]Celine Dion[/artist] and others follow.
[artist id="2408193"]Miley Cyrus[/artist], Enrique Iglesias, Foxx, Maroon 5′s Adam Levine, Pink, Mary J. Blige, Akon, T-Pain and others take verses later in the song; a second verse from a recording of Michael Jackson is immediately followed by Usher. Carlos Santana and Orianthi are seen playing guitars; Richie and Jones are often visible, smiling on the sidelines.
The most remarkable moments come from the rappers : an Auto-Tuned Lil Wayne sings Bob Dylan’s verse , Wyclef adds some Haitian flavor , and Will.I.Am and Kanye West both rap verses. “Like Katrina, Africa and Indonesia/ Haiti needs us,” Will.I.Am raps. LL Cool J, Will.I.Am, Swizz Beatz, Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes team up for a rapped section; Bizzy Bone, Kid Cudi, Drake and Nipsey Hussle were also at the session.
The music drops out toward the end to let the chorus sing alone.
Along with the studio footage, we see Haitian children dancing amid the destruction. Tellingly, the Haiti footage focuses on rebuilding efforts.
Haggis talked with MTV News about the session earlier this week. “You hear these stories about people checking their egos at the door, and it really is true,” he said. “They came and stood forever and were glorified extras a lot of the time. They just stood in the corner and waved.”
What do you think of “We Are the World: 25 for Haiti”? Does it stand up to the original? Is it better with rappers? Who has the best verse? Let us know in the comments below!