Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day! I missed my bus up to NYC and had quite a bit of trouble finding transportation the next day, so the plans my boyfriend had made for us needed to be canceled. Luckily, he anticipated that I would arrive hangry (a combination of hungry and angry) and made alternate plans. We ate at Neo on the Upper West Side, and it was utterly delicious. I am a big sushi fan, and I can say that it was, without exception, the best sushi I have ever had. We sat at the sushi bar and watched the chefs create their works of art while sipping lychee-based cocktails. When our main dishes arrived, they were served without soy sauce or wasabi, and sure enough, the sushi was absolutely perfect and required no alteration of any kind. We also played my favorite date-night game; Guess Which Number Date Those People are On. While no one ever “wins” or “loses” the game, it is really fun to guess which number date another couple is on. First? 15th? Last?

Before I belatedly left for New York, I had been planning on writing about the 25th Anniversary Remake of We Are The World. I have been thinking very carefully about how to appropriately address the video and song. I want to make it clear that any snark I am delivering is not aimed at the intention of these artists. I think the cause is noble, and in a crisis, Americans never cease to amaze me with the sheer outpouring of love and support that we offer (While we are on the topic, Haiti can still use lots of help.) That said, can we talk about Lionel Richie sanctioning the use of auto-tune??

Let me begin by saying that, while I may be in the minority on this one, I really like this song. We had to learn it when I was in 6th grade, so I know every word by heart, and it is really catchy. It is certainly a vanity project for these singers taking the “solos”, but the song also presents a unique way for the listener to enjoy each voice, and how they complement each other. In case you are wondering “whose voice does she think Lil’ Wayne complements?”, the answer is no one. But we will get to that shortly.

I like the updated beat they add to the song. And I like Jennifer Hudson. A lot. I personally do not understand everyone’s interest in Josh Groban (particularly, something about his eyebrows makes him remind me of a cartoon character) but I think he sings his part well. I like how they incorporate Michael Jackson into both the song and the video, but it is worth noting that if there is a quota for how many times Janet Jackson should allow herself to appear with M.J. via hologram, she has definitely, unequivocally, reached it. Someone needs to politely remind her of this (Tito? Jermaine? Anyone?).

Next up is Wylclef doing some type of wailing. He seems to be catching a lot of grief on some of the blogs that I read, but I have to say, I think his portion is one of the most genuinely moving parts of this song. He seems to really be singing from the heart, which is not surprising, since he calls Haiti home. Also, I think it gives this updated version of the 1980’s song something substantive to differentiate it from MJ and Lionel Ritchie’s original hit. When Celine Dion steps up to the mic for her part, I realize that I can no longer see or hear from this woman without immediately thinking of this video. You’re welcome, readers.

OK, now it gets weird. Lil’ Wayne starts singing through auto-tune, and I begin questioning Lionel’s creative direction. Plus, why have Lil’ Wayne introduce the audience to the auto-tuner, rather than its master, T-Pain? Funny you should ask! Have no fear, T-Pain appears shortly, with the auto-tuner set firmly to “robot voice.” Also, he is inexplicably wearing a backpack. I have to assume this was a compromise reached with Lionel in exchange for his not wearing a distracting top hat.

Next up is the rap interlude, which did not evoke as strong a reaction from me as it did from most bloggers I follow. I think, if anything, it’s nice to see this collection of rappers getting together to promote peace and love, and all without using a single expletive. I find it refreshing. That said, when I first watched this, I used this portion of the song to wonder about the fate of old Kanye West. This would have been the perfect opportunity for him, I thought. He loves to auto-tune his voice. And he loves to participate in things like this and then blog (in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS) about how people just don’t understand him. After that Taylor Swift moment at the VMA’s, however, no one seems to give him a second chance. Then, out of the darkness, he appears (more specifically, at 6:57). Is it just me, though, or has Lionel sequestered him to his own (possibly padded) recording studio? That’s what you get for ruining a 20 year old country singer’s dream moment, Kanye. Lesson learned. Kanye responds to this Oprah-styled “A-Ha!” moment by letting us know that, no, he does not learn lessons. After his world-famous impromptu “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” line during a live fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina, he once again mentions that disaster. Maybe think about leaving Katrina off of your rap repertoire, eh Kanye?

This post has gone on more than long enough, so I leave you with a few gems that I would hate for anyone to miss, and their coordinating time markers:

  • 4:44: I think, when I pause the video, I see Jason Mraz. If so, I can’t believe they didn’t use him more. Same goes for Robin Thicke, who you can see in the same shot. Please Google both men ASAP if you are not already familiar with them.
  • 5:45: Freezeframe and locate Vince Vaughn. Seriously, he is there with no explanation.
  • 5:47: Jamie Foxx does a Ray Charles impression and gets called out by J-Hud’s “no you did not” face. Priceless.
  • 7:48: It took me literally 4 listens to realize that Wyclef is saying “Haiti.” Not my best work.

I’d love folks to leave anything I missed in the comments section!