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Jay-Z: 'World' should've been untouchable

Feb. 15, 2010 at 2:21 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. rapper Jay-Z says he applauds the intentions behind the recent remake of "We Are the World" but says the classic song should have been left alone.

The new version of the 1985 ensemble charity song had its world premiere Friday during NBC's coverage of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Producer Quincy Jones and the song's co-writer Lionel Richie reunited and organized dozens of musicians and recorded the updated version of the iconic song this month in Los Angeles.

The original version, which the late Michael Jackson co-wrote and sang on, earned money for relief in Africa and featured the voice talents of Jackson, Richie, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson and others.

The remake is intended to raise money for aid to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12. Among the artists who took part in "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" were Justin Bieber, Jennifer Hudson, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Wyclef Jean, Fergie, will.i.am, Pink, the Jonas Brothers, Jamie Foxx, Jeff Bridges, Miley Cyrus and Barbra Streisand.

Footage of Jackson performing in the video for the 1985 song was shown in a split screen with a new clip of his sister, Janet, so they appeared to be singing in a virtual duet for "We Are the World 25."

"I know everybody is gonna take this wrong: 'We Are the World,' I love it, and I understand the point and think it's great. But I think 'We Are the World' is like (Michael Jackson's) 'Thriller' to me. I don't ever wanna see it touched. I'm a fan of music," hip-hop mogul Jay-Z told MTV News. "I know the plight and everything that's going on in Haiti. I applaud the efforts: (Millions have been raised) through text (donations) to Haiti. So I appreciate the efforts and everything, but 'We Are the World' is (musically) untouchable like 'Thriller' is untouchable. Some things are just untouchable. It was a valiant effort, but for me, it's gonna be untouchable."

The rapper went on to say he thinks the super-group should have collaborated on a new song instead of remaking this one.

"I would have loved that idea better," Jay-Z said. "I tried to do that with 'Stranded' ... I didn't try to make 'We Are the World,' but I tried to make our take on how we felt."

Jay-Z, Rihanna and U2's Bono and the Edge premiered their collaboration "Stranded" on the recent "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon.

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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