“The Greatest Night in Pop”, on Netflix: the starry night of the song “We Are the World”

No song had brought together such a host of stars and none has risked it since

“The Greatest Night in Pop”, on Netflix: the starry night of the song “We Are the World”

No song had brought together such a host of stars and none has risked it since. As the 40th anniversary of We Are the World approaches, a charity single which was to sell more than 20 million copies after its release on March 7, 1985, Netflix is ​​offering a documentary on its genesis and recording. The Greatest Night in Pop proves fascinating and generally avoids what its high-sounding title suggests: the exercise in self-congratulation.

The night in question is January 28th. Until 6 a.m., producer Quincy Jones leads a choir and a few soloists, the core of which is made up of Motown stars (Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson). Added soul music peers (Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick); folk (Bob Dylan, Paul Simon) and country (Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers) figures; pop singers (Cyndi Lauper, preferred to Madonna, Bette Midler) and rock’n’roll revivalists (Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel).

We took advantage of the American Music Awards ceremony being held a little earlier in Los Angeles to bring beautiful people to the A studios in the greatest secrecy

At the origin of this initiative, the activist Harry Belafonte, who considers that his country must create the equivalent of British Band Aid, brought together in November 1984 by the Irishman Bob Geldof and the Scotsman Midge Ure for the song Do They Know It’s Christmas? Belafonte contacts manager Ken Kragen who mobilizes his client Lionel Richie, at the center of this documentary rich in testimonies. The entry on the scene of Quincy Jones quickly allowed Michael Jackson to be associated, who would co-sign We Are the World with Richie. The film, which gives little information about the humanitarian operation, recounts the historical recording.

Prince, grand absent

Because all the difficulty of the final session for the voices is summed up by the warning that Quincy Jones placed as a welcome: “Leave your ego at the entrance. » That Prince, the great absentee, will never see. Crowned that evening at the American Music Awards for the album Purple Rain, her purple highness is expected in vain to duet with her rival Michael Jackson. To attract him, we invited the lover Sheila E., not fooled by the instrumentalization. The accommodating Huey Lewis will replace him at the last minute.

Placed in a unique situation, each person reveals their personality under the direction of a Quincy Jones who is both diplomatic and firm. Michael Jackson arrives before everyone else to record his parts. Bruce Springsteen, jovial, rasps to contrast with the dulcet timbres. Bob Dylan, who should have rather been entrusted with the text to escape the sentimentality imbued with bigotry (we learn that "God turned a stone into bread"), seems lost, until Stevie Wonder unblocks him by s fun to imitate him.

However, this good genius disrupted the session by wanting to substitute Swahili for an absurd onomatopoeia (“sha-lum sha-lin-gay”) planned by Michael Jackson in the chorus – both tracks were abandoned. And then, there is Ray Charles, who gets impatient on the piano, improvises around We Are the World and what we hear is more beautiful than the version we know. Finally, the incredible happens: a collective autograph session for these stars who have become fans again.