Friday, September 22, 2017

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid

Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  2170
Date:  12/22/1984
Debut:  65
Peak:  13
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Christmas, Charity

Pop Bits:  Bob Geldof, leader of the UK band The Boomtown Rats, was watching a news special in late October concerning the famine in Ethiopia along with his wife Paula Yates. Moved by the report, Geldof wanted to do something, if even minor, to help the crisis. Geldof ended up discussing the situation with Ultravox's Midge Ure and the pair met to discuss options. They decided that a charity single would be a good way to raise awareness and money and set out to attract big name artists to help record the tune. Geldof and Ure wrote the song and Geldof began making calls to artists. A session was set up for November 24th and the recording process began. The session would also be filmed in order to create a video for the song. As major stars of the day like Bono, Sting, Simon Le Bon, Phil Collins, and Paul Young began to arrive, the song took shape. Once completed, promotions for the event began immediately and when the single was released on December 3rd in the UK, it became the fastest selling in UK history. The song debuted at #1 on the chart and remained there for five weeks. It quickly became the all-time best-selling single in the UK. The song was also issued around the world including the US. Although the song outsold any other single on the US chart by a wide margin, it didn't get a ton of airplay, which hampered its chart performance since the US combines sales and airplay for chart stats. Therefore, it stalled short of the Top 10. However, the single went gold and the associated video received a lot of play on MTV. In all, the single, video, and everything else that went with it netted about $24 million for relief efforts and helped to spawn other charity ventures like "We Are the World" and the LiveAid concert.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that I didn't dig this song when it came out. There was a lot of hype around it and when I finally heard it, I was disappointed. It's really not a very good song and it caught a bit of flack at the time for not being a quality tune. Even later, both Geldof and Ure even said it was a bit lackluster. However, the song was just the vehicle and in the end it didn't matter as long as it got the job done. The song has kind of grown on me over the years and there are certain parts of the song that I do like. It wasn't a brilliant song, but the sentiment and efforts around it are certainly valid and hearing it around the holidays is a good reminder about what is happening to others around the world.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) In addition to the other stars, Geldof got Boy George to come on board, which was a pretty major deal. However, it almost didn't happen. George was on tour in the US and was catching some zzz's when he was supposed to be flying over for the session. Calls from Geldof to George didn't do much good and George slept through much of the day. He finally caught the last Concorde flight out of JFK and arrived at the studio around 6  in the evening and did his part.  2) As time went by, this song was revived by new generations of artists. Band Aid II was issued in 1989 and featured Bananarama, Cliff Richard, and Lisa Stansfield. Band Aid 20 came out in 2004 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the song. That version featured Chris Martin (Coldplay), Bono, Joss Stone, and Estelle. A decade later, Band Aid 30 arrived with Bono (again..), Seal, Elle Goulding, Harry Styles, and Ed Sheeran. Each single reached #1 on the UK charts.  3) The opening of the song is actually a sample of another song. It is a slightly slowed down sample of "The Hurting" by Tears for Fears.


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