The remake of the iconic 1980s charity hit "We Are the World" has been a smash online. Nearly 7 million people have viewed the video of the star-studded recording on YouTube since it premiered during the NBC broadcast of the Olympics' opening ceremony in Vancouver on Friday. It's the most downloaded song on iTunes.
As a tribute to Haiti in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left more than a million homeless, producers Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie assembled an elite group of today's biggest stars to update the classic song on the 25th anniversary of the original.
The cast includes a number of rappers, but the genre's top name - Jay-Z - is conspicuously absent.
Over the weekend, Jay-Z told the world "his take" why he turned down the offer to appear in the remake.
Apparently, he's a purist. At least on this issue.
"'We Are the World' is like [Michael Jackson's] 'Thriller' to me," he told MTV. "I don't ever wanna see it touched. I'm a fan of music. Some things are just untouchable. It was a valiant effort, but for me, [the original] is gonna be untouchable."
Mr. Richie – who reportedly rejected requests to remake the song for years, until the Haiti quake changed his mind – defended the decision to try to modernize the original.
“What’s a classic? To the next generation, it’s just an old song,” he told USA Today. “Why not bring in Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers and let them address the issues? We can pass the baton and empower the next generation to take up arms and have a legacy with this."