Band Aid 30 – Do They Know It’s Awful?
Unless you’ve shied away from social media you are probably well aware that Bob Geldof and the latest band of current popstars have released a rehashed version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, a song that’s probably due to be left well alone. Originally controversial due to the broad generalisations of Africa where, contrary to popular belief, things do actually grow and it even rains and snows, this latest release has jumped on the Ebola band wagon, making new generalisations as it does nothing to help people realise that, actually, only three countries out of fifty-four are suffering from the outbreak.
Fuse ODG, a British musician of Ghanian descent who was raised in his family’s home country, has told The Guardian of his reasons for turning down Bob Geldof’s offer of involvement, claiming that after reading the lyrics he was “shocked and appalled” as, despite Geldof’s reassurance that he would show the positives of Africa, the song merely painted the already acknowledged picture of poverty and misery across the continent. To the lyrics “There is no peace and joy in west Africa this Christmas” he had to say, “For the past four years I have gone to Ghana at Christmas for the sole purpose of peace and joy. So for me to sing these lyrics would simply be a lie.” essentially summing up the notions of the continent that Geldof conveniently ignores.
Seeing as this is a music site it seems appropriate to judge the song as well as the intention. The musical aspect of Geldof’s latest ego boost is, in a word, terrible. Combined with the wailing of singers whose voices in no way go together the change in lyrics are unimaginative and painfully cringey. Being focused on Ebola, a disease spread through contact with the bodily fluids of the infected, the song’s lyrics have been reworked to jam in as many lines about contact as possible. Bono’s famous line “well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” has been altered to read “well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you”; it’s possibly the creepiest line ever recorded in a charity single and is one of the first signs of the song falling completely flat.
Médecins sans Frontières and The Disasters Emergency Committee have been working tirelessly to help Ebola at the source, providing help and education where it is needed and relentlessly using practical skill to help stop the disease from spreading. The idea that the ‘artists’ on this record (a guy who lost the X Factor, a band who can’t stand each other and three ‘YouTubers’ who have nothing to do with music to name but a few) should be commended for giving up an afternoon of their time to record a song and literally make a song and dance about being charitable is laughable.
Geldof has been heard wildly criticising anyone who stands in Band Aid 30’s way, publicly shaming Adele for preferring to stay out of the limelight and selfishly focus on her young family (ignoring the fact that the singer made a very large, private donation to Oxfam recently) and telling a Sky News reporter that it was “bollocks” that a more constructive approach would be for all these rich superstars to just donate money. The thing is that private donations don’t help Bob Geldof carry on being the AIDS and poverty curing Superman he is desperate to appear as and, regardless of the end destination remaining the same, it’s important that his way is the way we all donate our money.
The worst part of the whole debacle is that the song is destined for number 1. It’s heavily laden with guilt as Geldof has publicly said that “It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like this song…what you have to do is buy this thing.” making anyone who refuses to buy it out of its sheer musical incompetence look like pure evil. The fact of the matter is no one wants a world full of disease regardless of whether they buy this single or not; if you would like to donate towards the Ebola crisis, or any charity for that matter, you can feel free to do so as publicly or as privately as you wish. It’s high time charity stopped being all about building your image and actually understanding and helping the people on the other end of it.
And just so no one makes me out to be a heartless journalist with no empathy, here are the donation pages for Médecins sans Frontières, Oxfam and The Emergency Disasters Committee. I assure you far more of your money will be going to help stop Ebola than the ‘profit’ on that single…