top of page
  • Hamish Hart

The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) Review

RATING: 7/10

CELEBRITY-driven puff pieces will always draw a crowd like a moth towards flame, and while these type of documentaries have become trivial and downright infuriating to endure, The Greatest Night in Pop largely bucks the repetitive trend many documentaries have fallen victim to. And just like his 1977 hit alongside The Commodores, Lionel Richie is painted as the perfect tour guide for a film that's easy like Sunday morning.

Dozens of the world's most famous musicians and celebrities gathered for one night on January 25th 1985 to record a single for U.S.A for Africa, a non-for-profit charity organisation that would go on to raise over $100,000,000 to help alleviate world hunger and poverty across Africa and the United States. Guided by the incomparable Lionel Richie, The Greatest Night in Pop documents the work We Are The World organiser Ken Kragen, record producer Quincy Jones, and other musicians did to record one of the most famous and successful songs in of all-time.

Director Bao Nguyen does no wrong with the execution of this documentary. Most of the elements come together to create a perfectly serviceable watch, but considering the magnitude of the story being told, there is little to none of Nguyen's personality left on the project, resulting in such a humanising story to become just another cookie-cutter fluff piece. Each act is shot and edited in a bare bones manner, leaving the project without its own identity that could have made it stand alongside the larger than life celebrities which, aptly, take centre stage.

Singers and stage hands recount their experiences of the night, including the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Cyndi Lauper and Lionel Richie, as well as the countless others who appear through archival footage. These interviews provide one-on-one interactions that, for the most part, elicit an intimate dynamic with the audience, particularly with Springsteen and Richie who discuss the humorous synergies that come from such a diverse group of personalities meeting for the first time.

The worst thing that this documentary could have been is "forgettable". Thankfully, Bao Nguyen avoided this problem by having The Greatest Night in Pop focus on what people came to see: the celebrities. There is an argument to be made that the film should have focused a tiny bit more on the impact We Are The World made, but it's not like it goes unmentioned; it still talks about the behind-the-scenes and fallout in serviceable detail, along with some unforgettable stories regarding clashing personalities and a certain singer who had just a bit too many drinks to celebrate what would become an unforgettable night.


About Me

Hamish newsheadshot_edited.jpg

Born in Longreach in Central West Queensland, I have undertaken a number of prominent roles across the region such as Journalist and Digital Media for The Longreach Leader, as well as appearing on critically-acclaimed radio stations ABC Western Queensland and 4LG and West FM to discuss all things film.

Posts Archive

bottom of page