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Huey Lewis doesn’t think “We Are the World” would work today

Disney/Randy Holmes

Huey Lewis has had a big year: A musical based on his songs, The Heart of Rock and Roll, opened on Broadway and he’s featured in the hit Netflix documentary The Greatest Night in Pop, about the making of the charity single “We Are the World.” Huey tells ABC Audio that he agrees with Lionel Richie, who has said that you just couldn’t make a “We Are the World”-type record today.

According to Lionel, the thing that made “We Are the World” special was that all the artists who participated had instantly recognizable, distinctive voices that fans could pick out as the song went on. Lionel feels that today’s singers just don’t have that quality.

“I think that’s true,” Huey tells ABC Audio. “It’s interesting, but if you think back to that time, there was no internet, there was no YouTube, there was none of that stuff. So the only avenue was a hit record. And those of us who aren’t conventionally great singers had to write our own song in order to have a hit record.”

Unlike today, when many pop songs are written by professional songwriters and sung by polished-sounding performers, Huey says, “I had to write a song that only I could sing better than anybody else.”

“And that’s true of a lot of us: me and, arguably, you know, Bob Dylan and and Bruce Springsteen, maybe even Paul Simon and so on,” he notes. “So the personalities in those voices were so diverse. And I don’t think that exists today.” 

The Greatest Night in Pop is expected to receive a nod in the Documentary (Special) category when Emmy nominations come out in July.

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