The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) Netflix Movie Review – Dramatic retelling of an iconic recording

Dramatic and high-stakes retelling of an iconic recording

Not everyone may know the iconic 1985 charity event of getting the biggest stars together to sing ‘We Are The World’ but if you are here, you know exactly why it deserves to be made into the next Netflix documentary. Well, say hello to The Greatest Night in Pop by Bao Nguyen which is a dramatic retelling of the behind-the-scenes of how ‘We Are The World’ came to be.

Released in January 2024, it has everything from the high stakes to the tension and the satisfying aftermath of executing the biggest moment in pop music history. 

The Greatest Night in Pop is a testament to solidarity and the human spirit as it charts the initial idea introduced by Harry Belafonte to address the Ethiopian famine, starvation on the African continent and world hunger in general through a popular avenue such as a pop song recorded by all the biggest stars.

As a televised recording, it could have been easy to simply combine all the footage of the planning and recording and call it a day. But The Greatest Night in Pop takes a harder route and it pays off as it brings many of the artists, the crew and people involved in the making of ‘We Are The World’. 

The Netflix Documentary also gives us a glimpse of almost every artist involved, including the big four – Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and their part in the making of this song. There are also some fun tidbits and trivia such as Cyndi Lauper initially refusing since her boyfriend did not think it would be a hit to the crew being worried about the Prince vs Michael Jackson rivalry.

But before the Netflix documentary can get boring, it switches up the story-telling, turning it into this Mission Impossible moment and emphasizing what an ambitious and huge undertaking the event was. To have 40+ busy and global artists all present under one roof for a short period of time, and being scheduled after the AMAs where half of these artists have performed and are tired – makes us realise just how much can go wrong.

And oh boy, it really does feel like we are watching a melodramatic movie as we hold our breath for the other shoe to drop. And there are several such potential moments – from Stevie Wonder wanting Swahili lyrics and Smokey Robinson rejecting Michael Jackson’s idea to Waylon Jennings straight up walking out.

Don’t even get us started on Quincy Jones bluntly declaring that those who cannot sing in the higher range should sit back during the chorus and it cuts to Bob Dylan looking sad. Quincy a real one cause we would have never been able to direct so many stars with such a tight deadline.

But apart from the drama, The Greatest Night in Pop also doesn’t forget to put the spotlight on what We Are The World is all about – working towards change. This also influences the very making of the song as Richie and Jackson struggle to pick a genre and then come up with the lyrics that will resonate with the world while also shedding light on the problems in Ethiopia.

The Netflix documentary emphatically explains how the recording is a logistical nightmare yet the artists come through for the cause. How the universe is on their side and every hurdle actually helps them such as Richie hosting the AMAs being the key reason why all the artists would be an LA at the same time.

The Greatest Night in Pop is an inspirational behind-the-scenes of an inspirational charity event. Viewers will be able to realise the significance of such a moment and the magnanimity of it, the first and possibly the only one of its kind (we don’t talk about the lockdown one).

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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