We Are The World

Some productions claim to have an all-star cast and they usually do.  But one production not only had an all-star cast, its all-star cast was massive. At least 45 major recording artists participated in the smash hit “We Are The World”. Reportedly, at least another 50 singers were turned away.  The collaboration of artists was named “USA for Africa”.

We-Are-The-World-(1)If you were living and aware of events around you in 1985, you probably have a strong memory of the song.  It was on today’s date in 1985 that 800,000 copies of the single arrived in retail stores.  Every one had been sold by the first weekend.

It’s debut sales figures inched close to the top song, “Imagine” by John Lennon. Three weeks later, “We Are The World” zoomed up to #1 on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100 Chart.  The song became the second fastest chart jumper since “Island Girl” by Elton John. Best of all, “We Are The World” captured two Grammy trophies.  It was Song of the Year and also Record of the Year.

At it’s peak, the song hit the rarified stratosphere of sales figures of more than 10,000,000 individual copies sold. It was the title track of the album of the same name. The tune was co-authored by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.


The main recording session took place at 10:30 pm on January 28, 1985.  Many of the singers arrived following the “American Music Awards” television program. Most of the artists filtered peacefully into the A&M studios.  Generally, their egos were voluntarily restrained.  In the wee hours of the next morning, the vocal tracks were wrapped up, the solo portions came off without a hitch, too.  The final mixdown of “We Are The World” was a wrap at 8:00 the morning of the 29th.

The entire project from conception, to writing, coordinating, recording and producing took only four months from start to finish. All aspects of the sound and graphics were donated at no cost.  All proceeds of the record went to charity.

I wasn’t the only person who thought that the phrase, “There’s a choice we’re making….” sounded a whole lot like the catch line of a Pepsi Cola commercial jingle.  I We-Are-The-World-(3)let it pass because I figured more people would buy the record and the charities could then get more money.

The only real problem I experienced with the song was from the viewpoint of a deejay.  For at least a couple of months, we had a nearly constant barrage of listener requests for the tune.  Even the very best song in the world gets quite tedious to deejays and regular listeners when it gets played in heavy rotation.  There’s a point of diminishing returns for commercial radio at the intersection of airplay of an extremely popular song. As music director, I had a very touchy job of keeping the listeners happy and management off of the deejay talents’ backs.  Other than that personal difficulty, I felt that the song was a solid pop song that could stand on its own, regardless of the ultimate purpose of the recording.


The Blue Jay of Happiness has the song’s refrain looping in his little head right now.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, Entertainment, History, music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to We Are The World

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    I always liked that song. I wish it were true.

  2. mandala56 says:

    I don’t think I even know this song, although I’m sure I would recognize it if I heard it. It probably beats this awful song I have going through my head right now, which I won’t inflict on you, but I’ve been told it was Barry Manilow…

    • swabby429 says:

      I don’t think Manilow made the cut. The song is really quite pleasant. Now that I have distance from the heavy airplay rotation, I rather enjoy it.

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