“Have you heard of Band Aid 30?” is a question that I have asked many of my students this week. My question is usually met with a sea of blank faces; it would seem that this charity single is not so well known outside of the United Kingdom.
Firstly, let me explain what ‘Band Aid’ is. In 1984, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure brought together a group of British and Irish singers and musicians and produced a song, called “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. The song was a charity single: money from the sales of the song went to help people in Ethiopia, who were suffering during a famine. The group who produced the song were called Band Aid. Over forty singers were involved, including Paul McCartney, Bono, David Bowie and Sting.
Five years later, ‘Band Aid II” was produced; although it was a UK Number 1 for three weeks, it was less successful than the first version of the song. In 2004, twenty years after the original song, ‘Band Aid 20’ was released; once again Paul McCartney and Bono were involved.
This year, the group is called ‘Band Aid 30’ because it is thirty years since the original Band Aid song was produced. This year, the song aims to promote awareness of the Ebola crisis in West Africa and raise money to help those who are suffering from the disease. The song features singers such as Rita Ora and Sam Smith, alongside groups such as Bastille and One Direction. This year, the hit single has also been produced in both French and German.
However, it’s not all good news about the song, which has been criticised a lot by the media. Many people think the title of the song, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is patronising towards Africans as there are many millions of Christians across Africa, so clearly lots of people in Africa are aware it is Christmas. Criticism aside, the song has been hugely successful and over 312,000 copies of the song have been sold. In my opinion although the lyrics may be seen as offensive, the song is raising a lot of money to help those in need – and that can’t be a bad thing!