Thirty-five years after Lionel Richie blessed us with “We Are the World,” the American Idol judge has released an updated version of his feel-good anthem with the help of some iconic contestants of seasons past.
The new rendition made its TV debut during Sunday’s Idol finale, as the Top 11 of Season 18 — Arthur Gunn, Dillon James, Francisco Martin, Grace Leer, Jonny West, Jovin Webb, Julia Gargano, Just Sam, Louis Knight, Makayla Phillips and Sophia James — joined an impressive list of previous winners and finalists.
Among the familiar voices thrown into the mix were Alejandro Aranda (Season 17 runner-up), Fantasia Barrino (Season 3 winner), Gabby Barrett (third place in Season 16), Jordin Sparks (Season 6 winner), Katharine McPhee (Season 5 runner-up), Kellie Pickler (sixth place in Season 5), Laine Hardy (Season 17 winner), Lauren Alaina (Season 10 runner-up), Phillip Phillips (Season 11 winner), Ruben Studdard (Season 2 winner) and Scotty McCreery (Season 10 winner).
Other finale highlights include Cynthia Erivo performing a medley if Aretha Franklin’s biggest hits, Lauren Daigle and the Top 5 performing “You Say,” Rascal Flatts and Doug Kiker performing “Bless the Broken Road,” Luke Bryan performing “One Margarita,” and Katy Perry performing her new single “Daisies” in its TV debut.
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Richie wrote “We Are the World” with Michael Jackson in 1985, teaming with producers Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian on the charity single, whose profits went toward starvation relief efforts in Africa. The song was performed by USA for Africa, a supergroup featuring some of the biggest names in music history, including Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Ray Charles and Tina Turner. (Click here to watch the original music video.)
Wyclef Jean joined Richie in executive-producing a 2010 remake of the charitable ballad in response to a devastating earthquake in Haiti. This version also called upon the biggest musicians of its day, including Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and Toni Braxton. (Click here to watch the remake.)
Hit PLAY on the video above to enjoy 22 Idol voices perform “We Are the World,” then grade it in our poll below. While you’re there, go ahead and drop a comment with your thoughts.