Picks and Pans Review: We Are the World

updated 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/08/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

USA for Africa

What a magnificent surprise this is. The video you heard so much about before you even heard its song is simply super. After the autographs of 33 of pop music's top performers scrawl onto the screen, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder lead off: "There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one. There are people dying...." Tina Turner and Billy Joel harmonize; Michael Jackson sings quiet backup; Diana Ross gives her little buddy a sign of encouragement; Cyndi Lauper throws her every pound of power into her short solo. Picking the soloists was a job that would have given King Solomon a tension headache. Consider who was left out: Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Harry Belafonte and many more. But producer-conductor Quincy Jones used his superstar chorus imaginatively, giving the song an intriguing variety of voices. It's hard to think, for instance, of a more unlikely or more galvanizing duet than Bruce Springsteen belting from down in a gravel pit while Stevie Wonder soars to the clouds. With some slick directing by Tom Trbovich and editing by Craig Golin and Howard G. Malley, their brief collaboration becomes a delight. Another video's highlight is Ray Charles showing these youngsters what he taught them—spirit. The stars all seem warm and human. It's enough to buck up your faith in humanity to see a musical-celebrity machine use high-powered hype—in a song, a video, an HBO special on May 1, even a book—to help the starving of Africa.

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