IT'S been on repeat in my head all week: The 25th anniversary remake of We Are The World.
Ever since the charity single for Haiti was launched at the opening of the Winter Olympics on Feb 12, the 25-year-old song has been looping around the back of my brain.
It was something I was looking forward to after finding out on Twitter that one of my favourite artistes (the fifth to appear in the all-star line-up) was in it. And, knowing that it was co-written by Michael Jackson, I was curious about how the late singer would be featured in the 14-hour recording enterprise.
Also, I suppose, I'm a sucker for feel-good humanitarian efforts. (The proceeds from the song go towards the relief work in the earthquake-torn country and I did buy the single from the iTunes store, not just enjoy the video online.)
But what really tugged at my heart-strings and brought tears to my eyes was not the 80-strong official 2010 fund-raiser, it was a YouTube version that was released a week later.
Just two days ago, a YouTube community of would-be singers started circulating their own interpretation of the hit. About 60 or so amateur singers sent their lines via the Internet and someone edited it all into seven-minute long video clip.
Like the 2010 version, it really brought home the state of music today. Although, I'll admit I didn't recognise some of the younger artistes in this year's official version, it was interesting to watch what one critic (Chris Rogers, The Washington Post) called a "panoply of voices". From classically-trained Josh Groban to Hannah Montana pop star Miley Cyrus, older voices like Barbra Streisand to kiddish pixie Justin Bieber, Titanic warbler Celine Dion to Black-Eyed Peas' Will.i.am, the juxtapositing made for repeated viewings of the video just to take it all in.
Who opened the song? Who sang Cyndi Lauper's part? Who wrote the rap? (Bieber. Dion. Will.i.am.) For someone who is at least as old as the 25-year-old song (okay, maybe more), it's not a given that those three singers are known entities.
The YouTube version isn't at all like a Lionel Ritchie/Quincy Jones production, obviously. It does not have the same spot-the-singer allure of both the original and Haiti renditions. Yet, with over 50 average Joes recording themselves on home karaoke systems, iPod earphones or laptops, it's hard not to replace the YouTube loop with this version.
Featuring wonderful voices with different backgrounds - racially, musically, and choice of home decor - you can't help but think: They are the world.
In a way, the YouTube version illustrates the state of music today far more accurately than the official Haiti version. But then again, reflecting the recording industry is probably not meant to be the primary reason for the song.
It's just a shame it's not available on the iTunes store for Netizens to download and contribute to the Haiti earthquake efforts.
Check it out anyway.