With a name like Band Aid, how could they have gone wrong?

‘Tis the season for terrible music playing in public places.  I think the only business in a five block radius from my apartment that isn’t playing Christmas songs is a Wendy’s that seems to always be playing stuff by KC & the Sunshine Band or Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.  Well, there and the Rite Aid that I just said was playing “I Hear a Symphony”.  

It’s hard to name a Worst Christmas Song of All Time, but if I had to name a Most Offensive Christmas Song that Doesn’t Even Know It’s Offensive That I (Not So) Secretly Think Is The Best Song Ever—that distinct title would definitely go to Band Aid’s gem, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” from 1984.  I mean, it’s great that they raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia, but the lyrics…you could write a whole dissertation about postcolonialism and Western civilization always thinking it knows what’s best for the rest of the world using these lyrics.  For example:

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Yeah, yeah, people in Africa are suffering too much to have time to realize it’s Christmastime.  But you know, not everyone celebrates Christmas.  A quick Wikipedia search shows that “Encyclopedia Britannica estimates that approximately 46.5% of all Africans are Christians and another 40.5% are Muslims with roughly 11.8% of Africans following indigenous African religions. A small number of Africans are Hindu, Baha’i, or have beliefs from the Judaic tradition.” 

Then there are the lines,

Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

This song just completely reinforces Africans as “The Other” (“them instead of you”).  But enough Orientalism.  There’s just no way I can NOT reserve a place in my heart for a song that features Phil Collins (on the drums?), David Bowie, George Michael, Bono (with the longest mullet ever), Boy George, Freddie Mercury, Sting (looking cool and sexy as always), Duran Duran, and so many others on ONE SONG.  That’s impressive.  And it’s so amazingly 80s:

It’s amazing.  I especially love when Sting sings, “the bitter sting of tears.”  I imagine his inner monologue being like, “Hey, that’s my name.” 

Band Aid’s video reminds me of Willie Nelson’s character in Wag the Dog and this part in that film:

Yeah, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro are okay, but Woody Harrelson steals the show.  There’s this one part when they find out he’s not a decorated war hero, but actually a convict:

Winifred Ames: What did he do?
Stanley Motss: He raped a nun…
Winifred Ames: Oh, God. Oh, God. Jes – Oh, God!
Stanley Motss: And…
Winifred Ames: “And”? I don’t want to know an “and”. Why is there an “and”?
Stanley Motss: Look, look, look, look, look. He’s fine as long as he gets his medication…
Winifred Ames: And if he doesn’t get his medications?
Stanley Motss: He’s not fine.

It seems my blog is turning into a forum for me to reference as many people, places, and things from pop culture as possible while maintaining some semblance of coherence.  In this post alone … we start with the musical stylings of Wendy’s, throw in Bono’s mullet somewhere in the middle, and finish with Woody Harrelson raping nuns at the end.   That’s got to deserve some kind of award…at least a cookie!  On second though, no.  Band Aid’s immortal song reminds us this Christmastime that there’s nothing growing in Africa.  Therefore, I couldn’t possibly accept a cookie.

3 responses to “With a name like Band Aid, how could they have gone wrong?

  1. My band has played bluegrass festivals for years. All of them have a scheduled supper break.

    One time we had a promotor who wanted to name the band ‘Supper Break’ so we could be on every festival in the country at the same time.

    I write a physician bluegrass fiction blog. Come visit.


  2. Another terrible Christmas song would be the awful “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney. Mainly because it goes nowhere and he seems to repeat himself..a lot.

  3. Yeah, I don’t really understand why artists even make Christmas albums. It must be written into their contracts or something.

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