Stars Reflect on Recording ‘We Are the World’ in New Documentary Featuring Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, and More

Published by Cel Manero from Global One Media, Inc.

“We only had one night to get this right,” reveals Richie in Netflix’s upcoming film, ‘The Greatest Night in Pop,’ providing insight into the making of the 1985 hit ‘We Are the World.’


Netflix Unveils Trailer for Documentary Chronicling the Creation of “We Are the World”

The streaming giant, Netflix, has released the trailer for “The Greatest Night in Pop,” a documentary that delves into the intricate process of writing and recording the iconic 1985 charity single, “We Are the World.” The film provides a unique perspective through the eyes of notable musicians who were part of the historic event, including Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, and more.

Directed by Bao Nguyen, the documentary combines archival footage with new interviews, offering an in-depth look at how Harry Belafonte enlisted Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson to compose the benefit anthem aimed at raising funds for African famine relief. The trailer sets the stage for an engaging exploration of the challenges and triumphs faced by music’s biggest acts as they collaborated on this legendary project.

The process of writing “We Are the World” was a significant achievement, but the true challenge lay in assembling every artist for the historic recording session on January 25, 1985.

“The greatest artists of a generation came together to save some lives, but we only had one night to get this right,” reminisces Richie in the trailer for “The Greatest Night in Pop.” Throughout the documentary, Richie recounts facing a “full-on fight” and navigating through “so many disasters.”

The film also features insights from other artists who participated in the recording, including Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, Dionne Warwick, and Huey Lewis. Each of them played a vital role in the creation of the iconic “We Are the World.”

The documentary, “The Greatest Night in Pop,” is set to make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, followed by its streaming debut on Netflix starting January 29.

“We Are the World,” produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian, achieved massive success upon its release in March 1985. The iconic single topped charts in numerous countries and became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

At the 1986 Grammy Awards, the song received four prestigious honors: record of the year, song of the year, best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal, and best music video, short form. The enduring impact of “We Are the World” remains a testament to its cultural significance and the collaborative efforts of the music industry’s biggest talents.


The collaboration between Richie and Jackson not only left a lasting impact on the music industry but also proved highly successful for the cause, generating an impressive $63 million in sales.

Reflecting on the chaotic creation of “We Are the World” during a 2016 interview at a Grammy Week event titled Arts & Ideas: Conversations @The Wallis, Richie, a member of the Commodores, shared insights into the challenges and intricacies of the song’s production.


In a humorous recounting of the songwriting process for “We Are the World,” Richie shared an amusing anecdote during a 2016 interview. He described the chaotic scene at Michael Jackson’s house where they were working on the song.

“I’m at Michael’s house trying to write ‘We Are the World,’ and his dog is barking, and his Mynah bird is yelling ‘Shut up’ [repeatedly at the dog]. I see albums falling over. I look again and see more falling over, and there’s an albino python [coming toward me]. I will admit I was screaming like a white woman,” Richie humorously recalled, as reported by Billboard.

He continued, “Michael goes, ‘Oh my God, Lionel. There he is, he wants to play with you.’ I know you want a spiritual tale about how we brought this song to you, but that’s how it was for three days.” The humorous and unexpected moments in the process added a unique layer to the creation of the iconic anthem.