"We Are The World 25," Radio's Reaction, Pt. 2
As previously reported, "We Are the World 25: For Haiti" by Artists for Haiti launched at No. 2 last week on the Billboard Hot 100.
This week, the all-star benefit track debuts at No. 40 on the Adult R&B radio airplay survey and bubbles under Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary.
While 96 percent of the Hot 100 chart points last week for "We Are the World 25: For Haiti" stemmed from digital sales, 246 radio stations sampled the song following its Feb. 12 premiere during the 2010 Winter Olympics' opening ceremonies on NBC.
Chart Beat reached out to stations that have played the update of USA for Africa's 1985 classic. Below are programmers' thoughts on the new recording, which include listeners' reactions, how the 2010 version compares to the original, and their estimates on future airplay.
(Read part one here).
WBEB (B101)/Philadelphia (Adult Contemporary)
Chuck Knight, program director
I think "We Are the World 25" is on a level with the original 1985 version. With Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie the driving forces behind it once again, it was bound to be.
Is it a hit radio record? Probably not. Very few six-minute, forty-five second songs are. It does seem to drag on (maybe to satisfy the egos that were in the studio)? Even so, the song does what it was intended to do: call attention to the plight of Haitians and raise money for relief efforts.
There was a lot of media hype about the song, and for it to have debuted in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics was a great opportunity. We put the cut in a strong rotation in the first week to let our audience hear it and to feel plugged in to pop culture. In week two, we're dramatically decreasing its spins.
Overall, the impact of the song may have been diminished by the poor job the project organizers did of servicing the song, or more specifically, an edit, to radio. I think that's affected the number of stations that have wound up playing it.
WMC (FM 100)/Memphis (Adult Pop)
John Roberts, program director
We feel that "We Are the World 25" is an "event" song deserving to be showcased for a short period of time because it's topical for our target demo; its cause (benefiting Haitian earthquake victims), the timing of its recording (following the Grammy Awards) and its debut (during the Olympics), as well as its superstar lineup.
It helps that our format is well-represented, with solo lines from Fergie, Pink, Miley Cyrus and Adam Levine of Maroon 5. The inclusion of other relatable stars such as Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, Jordin Sparks and Orianthi only makes the song more relevant to our listeners, along with, of course, the other celebrities in the video, such as Randy Jackson, Vince Vaughn and Jeff Bridges.
Given all these factors, this past week we slotted the song a couple of times per day. For the remainder of this coming week, we'll back it down to one play each day and by the weekend it'll likely be gone completely.KKRZ (Z100)/Portland, Oregon (Pop)
Tommy Austin, operations manager
Seriously, great rendition. A little long, and perhaps a tad bit late to hit the chord from a sympathetic audience. Of course, you could look at it another way and say that perhaps it's helped prolong the fundraising efforts past the initial outpouring of donations.
It does sound great on the air!
KOST (103.5)/Los Angeles (Adult Contemporary)
Stella Prado, program director
"We Are the World 25" is an awesome idea to help Haiti.
It's amazing to think that the original song was composed and recorded 25 years ago. Our audience is loving the new version because it brings back a special memory.
To that end, I love that Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie were able to bring Michael Jackson's voice back.
KIIS (102.7)/Los Angeles (Pop)
Julie Pilat, assistant program director/music director
I'm proud of the music community and the action that was quickly taken to put such a huge project together.
I love the combination of legendary artists and music's brightest rising stars. I thought it was special that they left Michael Jackson in. Jamie Foxx singing like Ray Charles is hilarious. Will.i.am's ad-libs at the end - "they need us, they need us, they need us" - feel like they come straight from the heart and really resonate with me as they echo.
To me, it seems like all egos were checked at the door and everyone came together genuinely to make a difference, and you can hear it in the vocals.
We've had a great response from our listeners and also much feedback from people who've said they've downloaded the track to contribute to relief efforts.
Despite the song's length, I wish there could be more of an alternative influence. U2, Kings of Leon, Green Day or Matisyahu would've been a treat (although several such acts are already tied to so many philanthropic projects).
I'm always an instant fan of people coming together to make a difference. I know when I was young(er) and the first version of "We Are the World" was released it was very educational and a great time within my family to discuss Africa, poverty, hunger and why the project was put together.
Hopefully, "We Are the World 25" is inspiring discussions at home about Haiti and how everyone can contribute to making a difference.