The World Reacts to Band Aid 30 Lyric Redux

November 18th, 2014: As seen on Archive (PDF)


Since Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure gave another star-studded Band Aid reboot to their landmark 1984 anti-poverty charity track, “Do They Know it’s Christmas?,” on Sunday during the British version of The X-FactorGeldof has cited over £1m of pre-order revenue, while iTunes sales surpassed the ’84 version of 200,000 copies in just a few hours since the track’s official release on Monday.

For the first time ever, though, Geldof and crew signed off on some lyric changes, shifting focus from world poverty issues to ebola, with the ’84 version’s most glaringly confounding line, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you,” getting reworked by Bono into “Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you.”

Why there isn’t a bigger tweak in the Twitterverse cringe to this is beyond us. But some people are pointing out some fine things:

On touching: “I really don’t want Bono to reach out and touch me and I doubt that a load of people in West Africa do either.” (@SophieSparham)

On money: “Am I the only person embarrassed by #bandaid? Bono is worth over $900 million, and Geldof is worth £38m plus the other ‘singers’.” (@riprap1)

On wanker-ness: “Bono = wanker #BandAid.” (@Ruey80)

The sharpest reaction so far, though, arrives via Al Jazeera’s roundup of prominent Africans on the ebola home front, collectively distancing themselves from the benefits altruistic efforts, most notably Liberian researcher Robtel Neajai Pailey firing back:

“We got this, Geldof, so back off. If you really want to help, buy a gazillion CDs of the two songs and send them to your friends as stocking stuffers with a note that says: ‘African solutions to African problems’. Instead of trying to remain relevant, Geldof and co. would do well to acknowledge the ingenuity of local artists and stop trying to steal the limelight!”

There are several other lyric changes in the 30th anniversary reboot, here, with a slew of fresh faces from Ed Sheeran and One Direction to Jessie Ware and Sam Smith replacing icons like David Bowie and Paul McCartney. You can judge their timeliness after the jump (* = change). In the meantime, bigger question – mostly for those of us in the Western world – is this reboot doing more harm than good?

It’s Christmas time – and there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time – we let in light – and banish shade
And in our world of plenty – we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world At Christmas time
But say a prayer – pray for the other ones
At Christmas time – it’s hard but while you’re having fun

There’s a world outside your window – and it’s a world of dread and fear
Where a kiss of love can kill you – and there’s death in every tear *
And the Christmas bells that ring there – are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you *

No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa *
The only hope they’ll have is being alive *
Where to comfort is to fear, where to touch is to be scared *
How can they know it’s Christmas time at all? *

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