Opinion Brief

'We Are the World': The remake backlash

Jay-Z is dissing the remake of the classic '80s charity anthem as an artistic disaster — even as it's raising money for Haiti

Calculated to raise money for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the new star-powered remake of 1985's "We Are the World" has topped the iTunes charts, but is far from universally loved. The loudest nay-sayer, Jay-Z, slams the inventive, hip-hop influenced effort for compromising the integrity of the original Ethiopian-relief anthem penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie — which Jay-Z ranks alongside "Thriller" as an "untouchable" song. Is this a ridiculous argument when Haitians desperately need all fund-raising efforts? (Watch a report about whether it's worth rebuilding Haiti)It's hard to argue with success: "We tend to agree" with Jay-Z up to a point, say the editors of PopEater. Yes, the artists should have recorded an original song, but this "genuinely well-intentioned project" is a "monetary success" and right now, Haiti needs money more than it needs defensible music. Besides, we've never heard "anything as moving as Haitian native Wyclef Jean singing 'We Are the World' in Creole.""'We Are the World' raises profits, eyebrows"

They should have called it "We Are the B-List": Jay-Z's right about the "slippage" from the original, says Jon Pareles in The New York Times. The new version falls victim to "all the pitfalls of a Hollywood remake" (Jamie Foxx imitating Ray Charles?) and the "talent pool" is conspicuously shallow. The female singers "can nearly hold their own" against the 1985 stars, but the men? "Lil Wayne, you're no Bob Dylan.""For Haiti, they are the remake"

Jay-Z's getting upset over this of all songs? It's certainly Jay-Z's right to boycott the "rushed" and unoriginal musical Haiti relief effort, says Aaron Gifford in Gather.com. But his claim that the 1985 version is an "untouchable" classic is laughable. It excelled "as a humanitarian effort," but, come on — musically, it "stunk."
"Jay-Z says 'We are the World' shouldn't have been remade"

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SEE MORE OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
Rebuild Port-au-Prince?
• Did Baptists 'abduct' Haitian kids?• Paul Shirley's Haiti slam
• Haiti's 'God' question

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