The Greatest Night in Pop

I had wanted to write about this documentary since I watched it at the beginning of the month, but other things got in the way. As much as I enjoyed this particular Netflix film, topics like birthdays, deaths, and Lent will always receive priority when it comes to Don’t Blink. 😉

But tonight, “The Greatest Night In Pop” finally receives its turn. Released by Netflix on Monday, Jan. 29, I watched the bulk of it the following Saturday night (Feb. 3). More than two weeks have passed since I finished it but the good feeling it left me with is still lingering.

“The Greatest Night in Pop” is about the most epic collaboration among pop superstars ever. In 1985, approximately 40 notable singers came together to record the song “We Are The World” to raise money for African famine relief. The documentary is mainly told through the perspective of Lionel Richie who co-wrote the song, recruited the talent to participate, and played a big hand in directing the recording session.

“The Greatest Night In Pop” was a very enjoyable documentary.

First off, I think I was drawn to “The Greatest Night in Pop” because it told the story of a pop culture event that took place before I was actually born. These days, it seems more and more “historical” accounts are being produced that originally occurred when I was alive and well. Man, I am getting old 😂.

Aside from my wannabe youthful ego, how could I say “no” to a documentary with so much history and current relevance? While some of the stars on the track had their heyday in the 1980s, many of the others would ascend to even greater heights and are still really relevant today. To observe that mix was intriguing for me.

Learning how the collaboration came together was very interesting. All the logistics and string pulling that had to be done to bring all those celebrities under one roof was no small feat. Also, the work done by Richie and Michael Jackson to write a song that would be conducive to such a wide range of talent showed true genius and partnership. Needless to say, watching it all piece itself together was quite fascinating.

But for as gripping as it was to watch all the planning, the absolute best part of the documentary was watching the actual recording session itself. Getting that look at all the performers driving up to the studio and then strolling into the recording area was special. “The Greatest Night in Pop” did a fantastic job of conveying the initial combination of ego, excitement, and nerves that filled the room.

Once the session started, the documentary really started to shine. The overall commitment to teamwork and problem solving is what blew me away the most. “The Greatest Night in Pop” was a testament to what can happen when there is buy-in and commitment, even if everyone involved happens to be an A-lister who is used to doing things their own way.

Just five of my personal favorite moments…

The incredible focus and endurance of Lionel Richie! The man hosted the AMAs, a draining and career-defining moment for many people, but then drove over to the studio and helped lead a recording session that would last into the next morning. Think he was tired?

Watching the resolve of co-producer Quincy Jones wrangle the talents of everyone present to conduct a session that led to a fantastic final product.

Observing the need to squash some ideas that could have derailed the project. Stevie Wonder organically proposed in the middle of the shoot that a portion of the song be performed in Swahili. His co-performers reasoned with him that the goal of the song was not necessarily to sing to those they wanted to help, but to sing to those who could provide the help via monetary donations.

The problem solving that transpired to figure out the strange feedback that was audible during Cyndi Lauper’s solo. It turned out to be her bracelets and Lauper was gracious and accommodating throughout the whole thing.

The struggle of Bob Dylan was really something to watch. He was definitely out of his element but because of the encouragement/assistance from Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and Quincy Jones he was able to sing his part and save face!

If you have the 90 minutes to watch “The Greatest Night in Pop” I think you will find it worth your time. The film is a true testament to the good that can be done when people come together for a common goal and egos are checked at the door. Don’t Blink.

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