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'We Are The World' remake for coronavirus relief? Lionel Richie talking about it

This week marks the song's 35th anniversary hitting the charts and one of its writers thinks the words still resonate with what's happening today.

"American Idol" judge Lionel Richie says that given the current coronavirus pandemic, the world may be in need of a remake of the 1985 pop collaboration hit "We Are The World."

The song, which debuted on the Billboard chart 35 years ago this week, was an anthem to raise money for the charity "USA For Africa" which aimed to fight famine in Africa. It featured an all-star lineup of 45 pop and country singers from that era, including Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, the recently departed Kenny Rogers, and Richie himself. 

It was Richie who wrote the song with Jackson, and it was he who sang the first words:

"There comes a time; When we heed a certain call; When the world must come together as one"

Richie tells People that a particular line he and Jackson came up with in the chorus was key: "There’s a choice we’re making, we’re saving our own lives.”

"We said, you can either say, ‘I’m saving my life’ or ‘We’re saving our lives.’ ’We Are the World’ is a statement we wanted to make. What do we do to save our own?” Richie told People.

The fact that the virus has now hit well over half the countries in the world, Richie says its time to take a step back from divisiveness and see that we are all in this together.

Richie reportedly said that he didn't want to make too much of the song's anniversary this week, given what's going on in the world right now.

“But the message is so clear," he said.

Given the current efforts of self-isolation to curb the spread of the virus, it would be difficult to get that big a group together in a studio to record a new song. But with so many people are now finding ways to work from home, a remote collaboration might be fitting of the crisis. 

It's not clear if Richie had a particular charity in mind should such a project go forward. 

The song was remade 10 years ago to raise money to help earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

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Credit: AP
Some of a group of 45 music artists calling themselves "USA For Africa" recording "We Are The World" in Los Angeles, Calif. Jan. 30, 1985. Bottom row, from left; Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, James Ingram, Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, Sheila E., June Pointer, Randy Jackson. Middle row, from left; Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Huey Lewis, Bob Dylan, John Oates, Ruth Pointer. Top row, from left; Daryl Hall, Steve Perry, Kenny Loggins, Jeffrey Osborne, Lindsay Buckingham, and Anita Pointer. (AP Photo)