“Do They Know It’s Christmas” – Band Aid
We begin our three weeks of holiday songs with one of the more maligned songs in the modern Christmas song canon. Are the lyrics cheesy? Yes. Are some of the assertions about Africa factually incorrect? Yep? Is the drama cranked about a few notches too high? Of course.
But, come on. The New Wave/New Romantic sounds defined the pop music of the first half of the 1980s. And no song sums all that up better than this. For that alone, as a representation of the music of our youth, all us Gen Xers have to defend the song.
And a quick note about Bono’s line. Even when I was 13 and the song was new, I understood what he meant. Saying “…thank God it’s them, instead of you…” wasn’t a personal statement of relief. Rather, it was an indictment of western society turning its back on disasters in far-off places where the people suffering had dark skin. It was easier to ignore them and hope they go away and try to deal with the difficulties in our own lives. Until Bob Geldof and Midge Ure forced us to consider the famine in Ethiopia, that is.
I’m not saying it’s perfect. I love the song because, like I said, I was 13 when it came out. And you kind of always have to love things that happened when you were 13. But I also don’t think it’s a terrible song.
Now that new, 30th anniversary version? That’s a terrible song…