Category Archives: Do They Know It’s Christmas

Do They Know It’s Christmas – Memories

Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

I know I’ve already done a date in history for today, but also on this date in 1984, Duran Duran, and particularly Simon LeBon, was featured in Bob Geldof’s and Midge Ure’s project “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, by Band Aid.

On a day where it’s pretty difficult to get into the holiday spirit…I think it’s uplifting to see that yes, we really can make a difference. Music matters. One single song, one single Duran Duran song (yes, I felt it was theirs) made a difference. I remember being 14 (goodness gracious) and feeling a sense of pride hearing that song on the radio. The band participated in something that mattered, something that was going to make a difference. Buying a single piece of music helped make the world better…all very lofty ideas for a kid. Never mind that Simon thought he was doing a solo with Sting or that he was pretty annoyed to realize he was going to be sharing the microphone with many, because I didn’t know any of that in 1984. I believed it was all for the greater good. Helping the world…hell, saving the world.

Nowadays, it’s impossible to miss what’s going on around us. I am sure most have read the headlines this morning, watched the videos, and were probably shocked by the photos coming from Ferguson.  It even has it’s own set of hashtags on Twitter, for crying out loud. It blows my mind, in some respects, that we’re still dealing with the same sorts of problems now that we were back in the sixties. Nothing seems to change fast enough, and yet everything seems to move way too quickly in this world. Well, back in 1984 I really did believe we were changing things, making a difference, doing good for the world with a single song. Call it naivety, innocence…maybe even a little ignorance, but I believed. I bought into the ideals. Hook, line, sinker.

For me, “Do They Know it’s Christmas” was the Christmas song to own. One single Duran Duran song turned Autumn into the holiday season for me, and what’s really funny is that it still happens to this very day. At some point just before Thanksgiving I will turn on the radio to our local “Holiday Music Station” (KOST 103.5) just to try and feel a little more in the spirit – and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” will come on, in all of it’s glory, and I’ll smile. I’ll forget the trials of being an adult, and something in me clicks. I’ll start thinking about how I felt sitting in the backseat of my parents old green longer-than-a-city-block Mercury as the song would start and we’d more than likely be out looking at Christmas lights, as we always did more than once during the holiday season. Sure, I was a kid and didn’t really know much about the world around me at the time – but I believed there was more good than bad.

Somehow, I think we all still need a bit of that today.

-R

 

 

Band Aid 30 – It’s Not Really Christmas Yet

So by now, I’m pretty certain the world knows Band Aid 30 recorded “Do They Know it’s Christmas” on Saturday. I heard rumblings of the recording over the weekend and decided to leave it until this morning before giving it a fair listen. As purely an aside, we have a radio station here in LA (KOST 103.5) that is already playing Christmas music.

It’s really not Christmas yet.

After listening this morning I can say this: the newest version
isn’t horrible. It shouldn’t be, because it had already been done once….twice…, ok three times prior. It is; however, incredibly subdued compared to the original. I suppose that was the intention given the reason for it’s being revisited. I can’t really argue with the reasoning behind the rerecording, except that if someone really wanted to help the cause, wouldn’t they have just written a new song? I think the cause – fundraising to help with the Ebola crisis in West Africa – is very important. Panicking at home, where ever “home” might be, is not going to help. Stopping the disease at it’s source is the right way. Donating to Doctors Without Borders, or to any number of the other agencies sending teams of healthcare workers to the area would be appropriate responses. Rehashing a song from the 80s with “current” artists, changing up a few lines as well as the rhythm and believing it’ll sell on hype alone seems a little disingenuous, to be honest, and certainly not because Duran Duran or many of the other artists were not asked or chose not to participate.

This is not a case of “sour grapes” (the idea is laughable) because my favorites or your favorites are not on the record. The cause is absolutely paramount; but if it is really all about Ebola, then why not give it it’s own song? Isn’t the cause worth the effort? No one, least of all me, is arguing that something shouldn’t be done. (Although I will argue the sentiments some have – that the song is all about stopping Ebola from coming specifically to Britain – is way off key.  The goal is to eradicate the disease, to stop it in it’s tracks, so that the entire world benefits.) I just tend to believe that the idea would have had much better traction had it not felt like an afterthought based on an idea that didn’t really work all THAT well before. Yes, the record sold millions; yes, the artists involved became even more popular; and yes, we can all recite the words from memory and squee each time we hear it on the radio at Christmastime…but it didn’t save Africa from starving. We still fail miserably at feeding the world.

The original song was joyous. It went over well as a Christmas song because while the subject matter was and still is serious, the song gave a feeling of hope. Who did not belt out the chorus when they’d see the video on TV or hear it on the radio?? We believed that buying that record would help someone. As a teenager in 1984, I felt good knowing that as young as I was, buying that record made a difference. Simply purchasing music had the potential to bring good to the world. The verses and chorus of the song had that spirit of goodwill, hope, renewal and joy. This version is much different. Ebola kills so many. It is a horrible disease. There’s one line of the song about how a baby’s tear can kill. That’s an incredibly powerful, and sad line. In a Christmas song. How can that be made hopeful and joyous? I just know that every single time I hear this version, I’m going to think about that baby’s tear. Heartbreaking.

I’m not saying the song won’t sell. My UK friends continue to say the song will hit number one in the UK. One thing it will never do though, is rewrite history. It simply cannot. It cannot fully embody the groundbreaking feeling we all had, listener and artist alike, when the first “Do They Know It’s Christmas” came out in 1984. There is no way to capitalize on that, and there is no way to outdo the first…which should have never been the goal, but somehow, choosing to remake the original only does just that.

Bottom line: if you like the song, buy it.  But, if you want to really make a difference, donate generously to Doctors Without Borders or any of the other organizations that send healthcare personnel, supplies, etc to West Africa to do the things that you and I might never be willing to do ourselves.  Either way, the point is donating to the cause. In the meantime, I still smile every single time I hear the 1984 version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” on the radio, and I don’t think that will ever change, regardless of how many remakes Sir Bob organizes. That alone should speak volumes.

-R

Do They Know It’s Christmas, Take Four

Bob Geldof says there’s no way he’s going to rerecord every Duranie’s favorite Christmas tune, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”….except that it turns out he is.  In what he claims to be “the worst-kept secret ever”, Bob Geldof announced today that there will in fact be a new version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, available next week. This time, the lyrics are being reworked for the Ebola crisis and will feature recording artists that are more than likely much more notable to today’s teens than those of us still clinging on to the original “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by our fingernails.

I didn’t realize that this would be the fourth version of the song (clearly I really am stuck in the 80s and I just can’t quite believe I’m the only one), so before we get much further, let’s take a quick look back:

Band Aid I

This version is our most beloved from 1984, and is the one that I hear whenever it’s played on the radio.

Band Aid II

This version was recorded in 1989. The lyrics were rearranged in a traditional “verse and chorus”. It apparently reached number one for Christmas and included the following performers:

  • Bananarama
  • Big Fun
  • Bros
  • Cathy Dennis
  • D Mob
  • Jason Donovan
  • Kevin Godley
  • Glen Goldsmith
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Pasadenas
  • Chris Rea
  • Cliff Richard
  • Jimmy Somerville
  • Sonia
  • Lisa Stansfield
  • Technotronic
  • Wet Wet Wet
Band Aid 20

This was recorded in November 2004 for the 20th anniversary of the recording, and also reached number one.  This version featured an extra rap segment by Dizzee Rascal during the “here’s to you” section.

Which brings us to the present, Band Aid 30, which is set to record next Saturday.  Coldplay (contributing from Los Angeles), Jessie Ware, Paloma Faith, and Sinead O’Connor have signed on to record the newest version. Interestingly enough, Bono is the only artist to sing the same line in the original and recent versions, and he is set to record with the yet-to-be-fully-announced group on Saturday.  Geldof mentions that other “giants” of rock and roll have yet to be announced.

While I applaud the idea of doing something to fund the campaign against Ebola – dealing with the problem at it’s source, I have to wonder if this version will ever reach the heights that the original, beloved original once did. The original song was a first, it was wholly unique, and dammit – it featured Simon LeBon.

-R

 

 

 

 

A trip to 1984 and back – all in the same blog!

Gotta be honest: there are a lot of topics I could be writing about today. Let’s take Mr. LeBon’s comments in The Guardian about Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video for instance.  Or better yet, there’s always The Guardian’s comments in return to Mr. LeBon’s initial mentions. Yes, I could be writing about that topic. However, and I don’t really mind saying this today…I just don’t feel like it.

Like many of my US buddies, I have stuffing to prepare. A turkey to stuff. Cranberries to sauce. (can you really sauce a cranberry?? Never mind…) A house to clean! So, forgive me if my mind isn’t quite on blogging today. I just can’t go into the finer points of misogyny, or why I believe Simon was well within his right to comment…or why I believe Robin Thicke needs to be smacked around a bit. Even better if it is done by a woman. Another time, perhaps.

INXS:I think these guys have aged amazingly well, yes. 

Instead, I bring you a link to a blog on New Wave artists. I ask you, have they all aged well?  I’m certainly not going to point fingers – my own under-eye bags are packed and ready to go, so it’s not as though I have room to talk! Or blog. I will say this though: I take offense that they’ve gone and characterized Depeche Mode as the Rolling Stones of New Wave.  Sure, they may have sold out a stadium or two in their career – but they don’t have anyone named Taylor, LeBon or Rhodes in their band, and they definitely didn’t write or record Rio. Put that in your New Wave pipe, DJRioBlog (!!!) and smoke it!

Next, I cannot help but make a small confession here on the blog. I’ve seen many Facebook comments and tweets about how Christmas has to wait until after Thanksgiving. I’ll agree, it needs to wait a bit longer than November 1st.  However…I’ve been listening to *gasp* Christmas songs lately. Listen, you all get into your holiday spirit your way, and I’ll do it mine.  I couldn’t wait. I tried to be strong, I tried to wait…and failed. *sigh* I’ve heard Do They Know it’s Christmas three times on the radio now, and each time it brings a smile to my face and dear, dear memories to mind. So, if you hate watching videos, videos to Christmas songs no less…with some of the very same people that you just saw in the above blog… I invite you to turn away now…if you can. John Taylor is on the darn screen no less than 5 seconds into it, but hey – go ahead and turn away until December 1st. Go on, turn away, but don’t blame me if you can’t. I couldn’t either. We’ll be weak together.

 And since tomorrow brings a review here on the blog – Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate.  🙂

-R

Duranie Smackdown

The Duranie Smackdown began a couple of days ago on Facebook.  It started innocently enough with a friend of mine saying that she had been “rockin'” out to AYNIN on her status.  My plan was to comment with a simple statement of support but before I could even do that, I noticed that another person had made a comment wondering if the band could “sing on key” or “play their instruments”.  How could I let that go?  I couldn’t and responded with a positive comment to my friend who was enjoying the album and another comment about how Duran had written and performed their own songs very well for over 30 years.  Now, the other person could have just left it at that, especially if she didn’t want a debate, a battle, a lively discussion.  She didn’t.  She followed up her first comment with another one about how Robert Palmer could sing on key but that Simon “always had a pitch problem”.  As for the rest of the band, she said that when she saw them live in 1984, they were definitely still learning their instruments and that she had more musical skills than them!  Insert lots of eye-rolling here.

So, I took on the job of educating her.  I explained to her that Robert Palmer was the lead singer of Power Station only.  I gave her some facts about how Duran have sold a ton of albums and have received lifetime achievement awards.  Her response was that the Reflex was off key and that I shouldn’t use their album sales as a means to show their talent because, according to her, Vanilla Ice had sold a lot, too.  Oh boy.  More eye-rolling.  She ended that comment with a statement about how she isn’t the only person to think this way.  Great, is she trying to say that she is a critic now?  Whatever.  I, of course, informed her of what I think the issue was with the critics in that they never gave any respect to Duran because GIRLS liked them.  She returned to make more comments, including that anyone who doesn’t hear that Simon is off key should go to the ear doctor and that I had provided her with lots of laughs.  That did it.  I calmly explained to her that it is fine to have a difference of opinion about music since like all art, it is subjective but that there was NO reason for her to be insulting.  Here’s where my friend and fellow Duranie (not the person rockin’ out to AYNIN) enters the picture.

My friend came in to be supportive and because she, too, thought that this person had gone too far.  She pointed out to the hater that there are things that she likes that her friends would think are horrible, too, but that they probably wouldn’t insult her about it on Facebook.  Of course, this person turned the situation around to where she was the victim as she said that my friend “baited” her and that we took it to a low level.  She claimed that she was just trying to have some witty banter but that we probably aren’t capable of that.  (My eyes were rolling around so much that I’m surprised they didn’t fall out!)  I couldn’t let that slide, either, and commented that she would have been more mature to have just said that she apologized for insulting us. 

So, what is the point of me sharing this story?  First, it reminds me so much of what elementary school felt like.  I will never forget sitting at lunch and debating who was better:  Duran Duran or Michael Jackson.  I was always on the losing side of that battle as there were a ton more Michael Jackson fans than Duranies where I grew up.  I can recall trying to explain to my classmates that Band-Aid came out first and was better than USA for Africa who just copied Band-Aid on the cause.  These classmates of mine didn’t want to hear any of the facts.  They couldn’t just accept that we had different taste when it came to music as it almost always went to the fact that Duran were “sissy like”.  (I usually argued at lunch with boys, by the way.)  This conversation felt just like I had gone back in time.  Of course, the really sad part is that this person is a grown woman.  My classmates had an excuse–they were just kids. 

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t criticize Duran Duran as a whole or Simon, specifically.  The world knows that I love to give Simon a hard time as much as possible.  That said, I always do it from a place of love.  I know that they are capable for greatness so when they fail to reach that, I’m disappointed and I say so.  Now, this person doesn’t get that right.  She isn’t a Duranie.  She isn’t saying those things to give Simon a hard time.  Nope.  She is saying them to be mean—to the band and to their fans.  What does this say about me as a Duranie?  It says that I will ALWAYS defend them to the non-Duranie even if it is about things I disagree with.  I would argue that RCM was a fabulous album with a non-Duranie, for example.  I think that part of being a serious fan is about being passionate about something.  I’m passionate about Duran.  This passion can form into loving criticism with other Duranies or into fierce protection with non-Duranies.  That’s how it always has been and always will be.  

-A

Do You All Know it’s Time for Holiday Music?!?

I was in the car today trying to get some shopping done before I had to go and pick up my youngest from preschool.  I was listening to one of my regular stations (I listen to JackFM in Southern CA because it’s the only station where I can hear Motley Crue in one moment and Duran Duran in the next!)  when I started thinking that it’s the week before Thanksgiving here – and that next week some of the stations out here should start playing holiday music.  My family celebrates Christmas in all it’s glory (and I mean that in the most secular way possible…), and I am known for going above and beyond in my decorating.  I love the holidays, but I pretty much detest cooking, so any motivation I can have to get in the mood to bond with my stove is very much appreciated. I suppose holiday music is one of those things!  I don’t know what prompted me, but I changed the station just to see if KOST 103.5 had started their “month of Christmas music” yet – and sure enough, they had!

Up until today, I hadn’t yet even shopped for Thanksgiving yet – again I have to mention the whole “detest cooking” thing, and at that moment I was coming back from the grocery store.  I really wasn’t feeling the holidays at all.  It’s hard for me to believe we’re already staring down the barrel at holiday shopping – so I cranked up the tunes and sure enough, I went from thinking about fall to getting excited about getting out my decorations next weekend.  (never mind the day of cooking that comes next Thursday)

As I drove home, I wondered how long it would be before I heard Do They Know it’s Christmas.  So many memories come along with that song for me.  I can remember the Christmas it came out, and how I think I drove my Dad crazy with insisting he keep the radio station in our car tuned to KIQQ (yes, this was back in the 80’s…that station is LONG gone now!) because they kept that song in heavy rotation, along with New Moon on Monday and pretty much every other Duran Duran song at the time.  I can even remember hearing it as we were out looking at Christmas lights one night, and squealing with delight when I heard Simon’s voice.  My poor father probably lost hearing that night.  🙂

To this day, I get a silly grin on my face when the song comes on the radio.  I don’t think it just signifies Christmas for me anymore – it is a dear, dear memory of my youth.  It’s a memory of Duran Duran truly being on top of the world, on my wall and in my heart.   It’s memories of going for rides in my parents green Mercury looking at Christmas lights, having my Dad tell me to “keep it down in the back!”, my mom asking me which singer was Simon for the 100th time, and hearing my younger sister groan at having to hear Duran Duran yet again.  Good times!

This year, it appears we are going to get a little something extra for ourselves around Christmas time.  While it’s pretty obvious to everyone that we’re no longer 12 years old…I wonder if we’ll always associate All You Need Is Now with the holidays after this?  I look forward to finding out!

-R