Monday, January 28, 1985

“We Are the World” was recorded

We Are the World

U.S.A. for Africa

Writer(s): Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie (see lyrics here)

Released: March 7, 1985

First Charted: March 15, 1985

Peak: 14 US, 15 CB, 12 GR, 13 RR, 12 AC, 76 CW, 12 RB, 27 AR, 12 UK, 13 CN, 19 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 0.25 UK, 20.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 694.16 video, 158.79 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Only in America. With ironic boasts of how they’d “check[ed] their egos at the door” SF at the behest of producer Quincy Jones, a slew of U.S. singers – “Mount Rushmore level legends” SS – lent their chops to “We Are the World,” a charity song which thematically “could be regarded as tub-thumping for America.” KL The lyrics naively proclaimed “the problems of the starving…to be no match for the power of positive thinking.” DM Billy Joel said most of the performers didn’t care for the song and that, if memory served, it was Cyndi Lauper who said to him, “It sounds like a Pepsi commercial.’” SF

Much like the soft drink giant, though, it moved a lot of product, selling over a quarter million copies in one weekend AMG and leaping to #1 in a mere three weeks, the fastest since Elton John’s “Island Girl” in 1975. FB It was the only song to hit all five major Billboard charts of that time.

“World” was the U.S. counterpart of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” a song penned by singer Bob Geldof in response to a BBC documentary he saw about the Ethiopian famine. TB He enlisted many of the U.K.’s biggest pop stars for a charity single that movingly pondered how the starving Africans would spend their holidays. The song’s 3.5 million sales were bigger than the country had even seen.

Singer Harry Belafonte decided the U.S. should undertake a similar project and called Ken Kragen, who managed Harry Chapin in delivering hundreds of benefit concerts devoted to fighting world hunger. SS He then contacted Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, and Jones, who had produced Jackson’s Thriller. Jackson and Richie took three days to work on it individually and then came together to write the song in a matter of hours. KL Along with Stevie Wonder, they recorded a vocal guide to give to each of the invited singers. RC

On January 28, 1985, the day of the American Music Awards, 46 recording artists gathered to record the song in a 12-hour session. SF Vocalists, appearing in order, included: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Carnes, Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles.


First posted 1/28/2012; last updated 5/1/2024.

Friday, January 25, 1985

Journey “Only the Young” charted

Only the Young


Writer(s): Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry, Neal Schon (see lyrics here)

Released: January 8, 1985

First Charted: January 25, 1985

Peak: 9 US, 18 CB, 6 RR, 3 AR, 11 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 14.32 video, -- streaming

About the Song:

“Only the Young” and “Ask the Lonely” were recorded during the sessions for Journey’s 1983 album, Frontiers. Some genius, however, balked at the idea of the album being too hits heavy and withheld those two fantastic songs in favor of the inferior “Back Talk” and “Troubled Child.” Both songs would see release on soundtracks and be included on the 2006 reissue as bonus tracks.

“Only the Young” was released on the soundtrack for the 1985 movie Vision Quest and became Journey’s fifth top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Journey’s version, however, was not the first to see release. Journey sold the song to the group Scandal, who released it in 1984 on The Warrior. After Journey released their version, Scandal won a legal settlement against the band. WK

The song “focuses on young people and the hope and future they all have in front of them.” WK Appropriately, a young person was the first outside the band to hear the song. Sixteen-year-old Kenny Syaluk of Rocky River, Ohio, had cystic fibrosis and his mother reached out to Journey through the Make a Wish Foundation. The band flew to Cleveland and visited him at the hospital. They gave him a football helmet signed by the San Francisco 49ers, an autographed Journey platinum record, and a Walkman with the song “Only the Young.” WK Kenny died the next day with the Walkman in his hand. WK

Singer Steve Perry said, “As soon as I walked out of the hospital room, I lost it. Nurses had to take me to a room by myself.” WK Keyboardist Jonathan Cain experienced similar emotions. He broke down in tears recalling the event on VH1’s Behind the Music, saying “children should not have to live with that kind of pain.” WK As a tribute to Kenny, Journey opened the shows on their 1986 Raised on Radio tour with “Only the Young.” SF


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First posted 7/8/2022.

Thursday, January 10, 1985

Today in Music: Cyndi Lauper landed Grammy nominations in the Big Four categories

January 10, 1985

Cyndi Lauper landed Grammy nominations in the Big Four categories

When Grammy nominations were announced on January 10, 1985, Cyndi Lauper had the rare distinction of landing in each of the Big Four Categories. Her debut album, She’s So Unusual, received a nod for Album of the Year. Her singles Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Time After Time showed up in the Record of the Year and Song of the Year categories respectively. Lauper was acknowledged in the Best New Artist category as well. She also garnered nominations for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “Girls”) and Best Recording Package, making her the first female artist since Bobbie Gentry in 1967 to receive at least five Grammy nominations.

She won the Best New Artist and Best Recording Package awards. She was also honored by MTV for Best Female Video of the Year for “Girls” which also was nominated for Video of the Year. That video introduced her fun-loving, even cartoonish persona, but also showcased her ability to deliver a hook-laden song. It went top 10 in 19 countries and hit #1 in 10 countries. WK

The second single “Time After Time” served up Lauper’s more sensitive side. The emotional ballad hit the top ten in 15 countries. WK “Time” has been covered by everyone from Everything But the Girl to Miles Davis, “if you need further proof of her credibility.” BB

Lauper also hit the top 5 in the U.S. with She Bop and All Through the Night, making her the first female singer to land four top 5 singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100. WK A fifth single, Money Changes Everything, was a top 40 hit. They all helped propel the album to 6 million in U.S. sales and 16 million worldwide.

Far from being a guilty pleasure, Lauper’s She’s So Unusual should be acknowledged not as “self-deprecating or even self-parodying; it’s self-congratulatory.” BB The album displays “a giddy mix of self-confidence, effervescent popcraft, unabashed sentimentality, subversiveness, and clever humor” BB and is “one of the great new wave/early MTV records.” STE


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First posted 1/10/2012; updated 1/6/2024.