In late 1984 the singer and activist Harry Belafonte was each impressed and perturbed by “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a British charity single that includes a solid of pop stars. The proceeds from the venture went to Ethiopian famine aid. Belafonte complained to the music supervisor Ken Kragen, “We have now white people saving Black people and we don’t have Black people saving Black people.”
Such was the spur for the 1985 tune “We Are the World.” The artistic nucleus was Black: its writers, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson; Stevie Surprise (who didn’t get a writing credit score however, as relayed within the movie, was invaluable to the entire artistic course of); and the producer-arranger Quincy Jones. How the venture become a one-night-only famous person fest — “If a bomb lands on this place,” a droll Paul Simon quipped whereas surveying the room, “John Denver’s again on prime” — is chronicled in “The Biggest Night time in Pop,” directed by Bao Nguyen.
Whereas the making of the tune was partially detailed in its long-form video, there’s loads of new, participating, and generally eyebrow-raising anecdotal materials right here. Surprise’s impromptu notion of singing a phrase in Swahili (which was squelched when it was identified that Swahili isn’t spoken in Ethiopia) compelled the nation star Waylon Jennings to stroll out of the session. A nervous Cyndi Lauper was nearly dissuaded from taking part by her (unnamed) then-boyfriend, who thought the document would flop. And some interviewees relay that Al Jarreau was tipsy all through.
Bob Dylan didn’t sit for a present-day interview, however Bruce Springsteen did. One of many handful of rock stars who’d additionally make a superb rock critic, he’s a vivid docent and apologist for the tune: “Steve Perry can sing! He’s obtained that nice voice. Up in that Sam Cooke territory.” Because the assembled room pays tribute to Belafonte, a salty joke improvised in tune by Stevie Surprise is definitely worth the value of a Netflix subscription.
The Biggest Night time in Pop
Not rated. Working time: 1 hour 36 minutes. Watch on Netflix.