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The Golden Wave

Can There Be Another “We Are The World” Today?

Left to right: Artists Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Daryl Hall, Quincy Jones and Paul Simon.

Michael Jackson. Bob Dylan. Tina Turner. On the rainy night of January 28, 1985, some of the biggest names in the music industry gathered in A&M Recording Studios in Los Angeles to create what is now known as “We Are the World”. It was released 2 months later on March 7th. With the 39th anniversary of the release of this gathering recently passing, an arising question that’s being asked is can this iconic moment in music history be replicated today?


Well for starters, why were all these talented musicians put together in the first place? The year before on November 25th, Band-Aid brought together some of the most popular British and Irish musicians, like Sting, Phil Collins and George Micheal, to create a Christmas song in order to raise funds for the famine in Ethiopia. The song did considerably well, generating sales of around $28 million, selling 3.8 million copies and stayed at the top of the UK music charts for 5 weeks. Although there was no ill intent with this, a problem that many saw was the lack of African-American musicians included in the event. So former musician and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte had the idea to create another gathering like this, but with more Black musicians. Belafonte pitched the idea to singer Lionel Ritchie who agreed. “We have white folks saving black folks. We don’t have black folks saving black folks”. Ritchie then got together with singer Micheal Jackson to write the lyrics, while renowned record producers Qunicy Jones and Micheal Omartian were enlisted to produce it. The production was finished by the night before the first recording session. 

Promotional Photo for We Are The World

          Along with the amount of success and accolades that most of the artists who participated in this song had, another part of why it’s so memorable is the sheer amount of talent that each artist had. With pop legends like Micheal Jackson (who arguably hadn’t even reached his peak yet), rock icons like Tina Turner and Billy Joel, and soul pioneers like Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, it’s hard to deny that the musicians on the song gave it an advantage. Speaking on today’s terms, how many artists do we truly have like that? It’d be easy to list off chart toppers like Beyoncé, Ariana Grande or Drake, but very few artists today have the same amount of success they have. Another trait that today’s artists lack is the musical ability and talent that the original artists had. Although we have artists like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and H.E.R, very few artists today match their talent. Even though the presence of social media would give the song a lot of attention, it’s debatable whether a modern “We Are The World” would gain positive or negative reception. The song also succeeded because diverse artists were put together to raise awareness for a common cause. In today’s musical landscape, competition is prioritized over working together. With rappers “beefing” and artists constantly competing for a #1 album and single, the sense of unity and collaboration that the music industry was built on is lost. Along with the music industry being competitive, it’s heavily commercialized. An artist or record label may be less inclined to participate in the project if it’s not seen as financially rewarding.


To this day, “We Are The World” stands as a testament of what unity, talent, and purpose can bring to a music piece. While creating another version that’s as powerful is unlikely, if not impossible, the spirit of advocacy and social responsibility within artists still exists. However, one thing remains certain: the impact of “We Are The World” is a reminder of the potential of what can happen when people get together for a greater good, regardless of the era.

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About the Contributor
Nia Rose Green
Nia Rose Green, Staff Writer
Hi I’m Nia Green. I’m in 11th grade and I’m a writer for the Golden Wave. I’m a huge movie buff, and I love watching all genres of movies and writing reviews for them on Letterboxd. I also enjoy writing screenplays, as I aspire to be a screenwriter or a journalist. Writing for the Golden Wave is a great opportunity for me to explore both of the potential fields I want to work in.