Looking back on the moment in time that The Greatest Night in Pop captures is a dizzying thing. Even in 1985, the recording of the single “We Are The World” was inexplicable. Out of nowhere, some of the biggest recording artists in contemporary American music were joined in a chorus for charity. Thinking back on the music video, the collection of famous faces seems like a fever dream more than a memory: Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, for some reason Dan Aykroyd, and many, many more.
They’d come together to create a fundraising single to fight famine in Africa, and they achieved awe-inspiring success in collaboration and philanthropy. But looking back, it feels even more impossible to imagine something so sincere and star-stuffed coming together at all.
The documentary The Greatest Night In Pop is fueled by this sense of awe. Director Bao Nguyen offers interviews from a long list of the single’s contributors alongside behind-the-scenes footage that takes us into the recording session that was as stressful as it was surreal. The result is a documentary that is undeniably enchanting — even if willfully naive.
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