Tag Archives: Band Aid 30

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