By early 1985, charity singles were all the rage. Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, helmed by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, became an instant classic at the end of 1984, with its bevy of UK and Irish pop stars propelling the song to the top of charts worldwide.
Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie on 20 January 1985, recorded the next day, and released in early March, “We Are the World” might not have been as superbly crafted a song as “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but its American star power was staggering, the likes of which pop music will never see again on record. True to form, its sales were astronomical, well in excess of 20 million worldwide. Even Canada got into the action that spring, with the quaint, syrupy “Tears Are Not Enough” (which became that country’s top-selling single of 1985), followed Latin American supergroup single “Cantaré, cantarás”.