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We Are the World vs Somos El Mundo

3 March 2010 No Comment

Unless today is your first time on a computer, you will probably have seen this video:

It’s a 25th Anniversary remake of We Are the World which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and originally featured singers such as Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Bob Dylan. This updated version which is to raise money for Haiti features classics like Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Janet Jackson, and even includes footage of Michael Jackson from the original version. There are also lots of younger performers in this version, including Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Sadly, “singers” such as Lil Wayne and Akon were also allowed to be a part of this one. But I’ll get to that later.

Overall, I like this new version. The voices blend well together, there’s a good mix of young and old, and they haven’t changed it too much, at least not until they start inserting auto-tuning and rapping towards the end. In my opinion Wyclef Jean steals the show and gives a fantastic display of vocals in honor of his home country. Akon and Lil Wayne basically embarrass themselves by even showing up and attempting to give the impression of possessing the talent to sing.

But it’s for a good cause, and even the slightly out of place rap segment can be overlooked, when you actually listen to the words and their uplifting message. So I give the song and its video 2 thumbs up.

Then I saw this.

For some reason, this video made me kind of mad. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but the more I watched it, I realised what it was. The performers in this video (most of whom I admittedly have never seen before) all seem to be more preoccupied in showing off their vocal talents than actually focusing on the cause that they’re singing for. In We Are the World, I could find hardly any instances of the artists looking at the camera, but in Somos El Mundo, each performer seems to think they’re in their own personal music video. A lot of the singing was quite over the top with lots of unnecessary warbling. It gave me the impression that they were all thinking “ooh, charity single? What a great excuse to show everyone what great singers and performers we are.”

Am I being too harsh? Would I feel differently if I knew these singers better? I have to admit, of the performers I was familiar with (David Archuleta, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Shakira) I didn’t find them to be so over-the-top. Am I just being a bit judgmental towards people who I haven’t seen before? I’m not saying that I didn’t think they were talented. I thought they all have great voices, I just think they all seemed to be trying too hard, as if it was all about them.

So what do you think? Take a look at both videos and tell me if I’m crazy or if what I’ve said makes even the tiniest bit of sense. I’m not prejudiced against Spanish people. I speak Spanish, I love Spain, and I like Oreja de Van Gogh (a Spanish pop group) so I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like this version because it’s Spanish. That’s not it. And now I feel like I’m digging myself into a big hole so I’m going to shut up and ask you for your opinions.

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