“Do They Know It’s Christmas” was a very annoying and overrated song. Simply because it was a charity single, people didn’t seem to question the idiotic lyrics and faux-liberal sentiments. If you’re not aware, this song was released in winter of 1984 to raise money for the Ethiopian famine and it featured a hoard of popular singers of the day including Boy George of Culture Club, Bono of U2, and Paul Young of, err… shit cover songs. Now of course, the cause itself I have no problem with, and raising money or awareness in of itself I don’t have a problem with either, but when you wrap up altruism with a corny Pop song it has to be mocked.
Firstly, the title itself – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – well yes, thanks to Imperialism and Christian missionaries, many continents around the world including Africa do. And on that note, this track seemed to think of Africa as a country rather than a continent, and despite the drought occurring in Ethiopia, the lyrics suggested that the whole, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-climate continent suffered from the same problems…
“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time, the greatest gift they’ll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow. Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”
…there was so much wrong with those moronic lines. Firstly, and I reiterate: the lyrics couldn’t seem to differentiate between a country and a pissing continent, and since Africa is a large expansive continent, yes it snows; from the Atlas Mountains to the mountains in South Africa, there are quite a few places covered with the stuff. In addition, since the line “where nothing ever grows” immediately follows the “Africa” lyric, the song is essentially saying that nothing grows in all of Africa, and even if the singer/songwriters were referring to Ethiopia, “nothing ever grows” is still inaccurate since it’s periods of drought, high tax, and poor infrastructure that impedes agriculture in that country, it’s not because nothing ever grows. In addition, there are actually quite a few “rivers that flow” in that country, if there weren’t, it would be a baron wasteland. The Ethiopian people wouldn’t be able to grow coffee beans or herd cattle if there were “no rivers” and “nothing ever grew”, for fuck’s sake!
Then there was the title itself: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. Okay, so it most likely meant that during the festive period, people without aid at a time of crisis “don’t know it’s Christmas” since it’s supposed to be a season of goodwill. But, that being said, amongst all the other twat-tastic lyrics, you wouldn’t be blamed if you took the title literally, especially as you watched a group of predominantly white sanctimonious singers singing these lines most likely without knowing that Ethiopia is made up of a large Christian and Catholic population, and that being the case, almost everybody there “knows it’s Christmas”.
The only time this crappy charity track was mocked or satirised is when Peter Kay created the singer-songwriter character Marc Park in the episode “Lonely At The Top” in That Peter Kay Thing. If you ever get a chance to watch that show, somewhere between the song “African Tears” and “Christmas 2000” is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” – a shitty but catchy track that is more about raising awareness of Pop music and the profile of the individuals involved rather than raising awareness of a tragedy.
Back to the track itself, going from the topic of “Ethiopia”, then to “Africa”, and then low-and-behold the chorus “Feed The World”, the song really was a confused piece of shite. It makes you wonder whether these Pop-pricks knew what the song was actually for; Ethiopia, all of Africa, or all of the planet? I guess a bunch of do-gooders wanting to appear to the public as philanthropic will sing any old crap. These tits were probably so concerned with looking as if they cared that they didn’t question the slightly offensive lyrics. Just because the song is well-meaning, doesn’t mean that the lyrics can be slap-dash nonsense.
One thing I will say however, is that the 1984 version is now tolerable in retrospect. If you don’t know, this already wack-ass track was resurrected three times by even lamer artists to make a trilogy of super-wack songs; “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was first remade in 1989 by Band Aid II (which included Bros, Jason Donovan, and Sonia) then again in 2004 by Band Aid 20 (including Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield, Dido, and Chris Martin) and then again in 2014 by Band Aid 30 (including Chris Martin again, Bono again, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran, and Ellie Goulding) this time for the Ebola crisis. Weirdly, they still used the line “Feed The World” for the Ebola version of the song (I thought you feed a cold and starve a fever so who knows what you do for Ebola).
Regardless of the reason for each remake, one thing’s for certain; the lineup and the song itself seems to be getting worse every time they re-record the frigging thing. Some mainstream-loving morons keep taking these daft lyrics and they keep recycling them with even worse singers to give even less feeling and even less meaning. The song is now a testament to contrived ideas about the third world or developing nations, ironically prejudice attitudes to foreign countries, patronising celebrities, self-righteous singers, and of course mediocre writing by Bob “Champagne Socialist” Geldof and Midge “Tag Along” Ure.
This was and still is a very overrated and under-dissed song, all because it was for “charridy” I assume. I guess we’re not supposed to say something is bad when it’s supposedly doing good.
Yes, They Do Know It’s Christmas.