By Sabrina Rojas Weiss
No, the “Kidney Now!” benefit on last night’s “30 Rock” finale wasn’t the first time celebrities have come together to raise awareness or money for a cause. Nor was it the first time “We Are the World” has been parodied. But I’d rank it among my favorite charity-song spoofs, right up there with Jimmy Kimmel’s “I’m F—ing Ben Affleck.”
In case you missed it, the episode featured Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) pulling in as many favors and blackmail victims as he could to create a benefit show aimed at getting someone to give a kidney to the man who may or may not be his father (Alan Alda). This led to the revelations that Clay Aiken is Kenneth’s cousin, Liz Lemon went to school with Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello is really an international art thief, Adam Levine can do a really hilarious Russian accent, and Mary J. Blige should never cross over into acting again. And finally, the big show came together with a combination of stars to rival the randomness of the original USA for Africa group: Mike D, Ad Rock, Michael McDonald, Sara Bareilles, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Talib Kweli, Rhett Miller, Moby, Robert Randolph, Rachael Yamagata, Steve Earle and Cyndi Lauper, plus the aforementioned stars.
In addition to the catchy lyrics (“This country has six hundred million kidneys/ And we really only need half/ That leaves about three hundred million kidneys/ Do the math”), the song also featured a moving speech by Costello. But the highlight for me — and the one that made me wish I still had the old 7″ of “We Are the World” I made my mother buy — was when Lauper re-created her crazy wail from her appearance on the 1985 track. If that doesn’t make you want to donate a kidney, I don’t know what will.
By the way, if you really want to get nostalgic, MTV.com does have the full video of “We Are the World,” which was penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones to raise money for starving people in Africa.