“We Are the World” was a song co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones, and credited to USA for Africa—an ad hoc supergroup featuring 46 of the music world’s biggest singing stars backed by a quickly assembled group of instrumental accompanists.
Recorded for a good cause (profits were slated to help aid famine relief efforts in Ethiopia), it was a phenomenon upon its release as it turned out to be the fastest-selling single in U.S. history, #1 there, and dozens of other countries as well.
Now, “We Are the World” is the subject of a new documentary film, The Greatest Night in Pop, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 19, 2024, and coming to Netflix on Jan. 29.
Directed by Bao Nguyen (Be Water), the film takes a deep dive into the story behind the January 25, 1985, recording session that brought together Jackson and Richie, along with Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Ray Charles and many other stars of the day. A chorus including many other big-name artists, among them Bette Midler, LaToya Jackson, Lindsey Buckingham, Harry Belafonte, Smokey Robinson, Waylon Jennings, and the Pointer Sisters, also crammed into the Los Angeles studio to lend their voices to the song.
The new documentary, according to several published reports, will include previously unseen footage relating to the massive undertaking that brought together the unprecedented gathering of superstars on such short notice.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.