Reposting to get you in the holiday spirit…. The original post appeared on Nov 20, 2010…. Enjoy! 🙂
This is perhaps one of the most impactful and damaging songs in history. I heard it on the radio today and got pissed off like I do every time I hear it.
Apparently the image of Africa and Africans hasn’t changed much since 1984. Twenty years later comes Band Aid 2 — because every multi-celebrity charity pity song needs a remake…. Love the intro sound of a crying starving child and the astonished yet highly concerned British commentator.
I don’t even know where to start on the stereotypes and disservice that this song (and similar charity marketing and sensationalist journalism) has done to the image of Africa (the Continent) and Africans themselves. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in African countries and I could post photo after photo of rivers and rain there. And things growing. I never heard any clanging chimes of doom while there. There are lots of people who are not looking out their windows onto “a world of dread and fear”. Many of my African friends won’t celebrate Christmas because they are Muslim, not because they are starving to death. And many others will celebrate Christmas, but not American or Euro style. Not everyone is sitting underneath the burning sun. Africa is not a giant desert. Can we please not show famine in Ethiopia and pretend it’s representative of the entire continent? There won’t be snow in Africa? So what? Gahhhhh!
Luckily there is the glory of social media to take the edge off the fury…. If you don’t like the original version, there are plenty of re-makes to be found on YouTube. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Here is a selection of the, uh, finest. You be the judge on whether these are worse than the original…. Taking votes in the comments section.
Feed the World with Friends (I wish this were a joke) Version. Wow. Just wow. E for effort. C for caring. D for Do Gooders. But the singing makes me doubt the potential for quality in anything crowdsourced.
Bad 1980s Sponsorship Organization Commercial Photo Montage Version. The original didn’t have enough pictures of crying children and flies in the eyes so this kind person overlaid some of the best of the worst charity photos on to the video to encourage us to care. (Commenter: So, there won’t be snow in Africa this year? And you say the only gift they’ll get is the gift of life? So, no shoveling, and no commercial holidays? Sign me up.)
Singing Cartoon Turkeys Version (aka PETA Version?)
Dance Aid – Do they know it’s Christmas (Rave Mix) Instrumental so you can dance at your Christmas Rave without feeling guilty because of the lyrics.
Winnipeg Tea Party Version? “Dedicated to the poor children of Winnipeg School Division 1. Children whose childhood is less happy because schools run by tyrants will not say the word Christmas…. Christmas… A holiday so terrible according to commies that it can’t be named….” Special appearance poster by the Folsom Street Fair (the grand daddy of all gay male leather events) whose attendees “mock your religion while demanding that you get rid of the word Christmas…” ends with “glad this baby (Jesus) wasn’t aborted… stop the ACLU”.
2006 College Version complete with a lot of bare midriffs and self absorbed cleavage and blowing hair and dramatic effects which turn into…. a drink infested Christmas party… which ends up in a teenage mums against war protest slash terror attack… and ends with… um. Well if you make it through to the end maybe you can tell me what the point was?
Chris Brown feat. T-Pain laid over Karaoke Instrumental Version (?!?!) I’m still not sure which lyrics are more awful — these or the original…. this is as bad, maybe worse, than the homemade versions– hard to make it through til the end.
High School Christmas Concert Version with uh high quality filming. (comments section: 3 letters is all this will take. OMG. And 2 words: bloody awful)
1985 High School Talent Show Version. Has that Risky Business feel to it. As a child of the 1980s I’m digging the outfits:
Canadian Version with lots of Tim Horton promos in the background…. “In 1984 the top recording artists across Canada gathered to raise money from the famine in Africa… when the public viewed Canada’s version, the world decided it was best for Canada to just make a fincial (sic) donation instead.”
Hipsters in a Mansion Version (TV Allstars) (“Bless ’em, they seem to think the clanging chimes of doom are something to be cheery about.”)
People in a Toystore with Tambourine and Ukelele Version? Commenter: “Sick! Sick and WRONG! I LOVE IT! My favorite lines: “There won’t be snow in Africa this christmas” (nor in LA, nor Hawaii…???) and “Thank God it’s THEM instead of You” ??? and “Here’s to them underneath that burning sun” – the stupidest lyrics ever !! YOU GUYS ROCK”
Status Quo Video Vault Version (anyone else love and remember The Young Ones? “All the homos in the place goin’ mental now….” “HomeOwners you mean, don’t you….”)
The Clanging Chimes of Doom are Back and Better than Ever Version. Voice and video don’t sync. There’s a dude singing in a shower. There’s a fake adopted black baby. Make it stop.
I’m happy that at least some musicians in the 80s were on the ball. High 5 to Chumbawamba.
Feed the World. “In 1986, the anarchist band Chumbawamba released the album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, as well as an EP entitled “We Are the World”, jointly recorded with US band A State of Mind, both of which were intended as anti-capitalist critiques of the Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon. They argued that the record was primarily a cosmetic spectacle, designed to draw attention away from the real political causes of world hunger.”
Update Nov 29, 2010: And hey, it seems like Bob Geldof would totally agree with me on this post! I’m starting to gain a little respect for him. According to this Nov 29, 2010, article in the Daily Mail. Geldof, who penned the song 26 years ago together with Midge Ure, says: “I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the other one is We Are The World. Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every ****ing Christmas….” The former Boomtown Rats frontman, 59, added: “Sometimes I think that’s wild because I wrote it. Or else I am thinking how much I want them to stop because they are doing it really badly.”