And what's worse, the lyrics have come in for major criticism... While no one is criticising the basic good intention, what might have been waking the world up 20 years ago to the issues of poverty and famine and fundraising, is no longer sufficient in todays world.
What else can go wrong?
Damien Hirst's Band Aid cover banned
Controversial comtemporary artist Damien Hirst has shown record bosses what he has come up with for the sleeve artwork for Do They Know It's Christmas? but it has been rejected on the basis that it would frighten small children, reports the Mirror.
Despite having reportedly been given a free reign as to how to adorn the single's sleeve, Hirst's work has been rejected on grounds of unsuitability. The potential artwork in fact seemed very appropriate. On one side it depicts the Grim Reaper cradling a starving African child in his arms, set against a blue sky with fluffy clouds, and on the other is a white child flaunting money.
Now however, there is to be a child with some baby reindeer.
"People have said it's a bleak picture but starvation and death are bleak subjects and there's no getting away from that." Damien now plans to sell limited edition prints of his rejected work in order to raise money for Sudan.
Campaigners challenge Band Aid lyrics
Justice Africa, an indigenous campaigning organisation, has also claimed that the band Aid lyrics represent their homelands in a negative and patronising way.
A recent survey for the aid organisation Voluntary Service Overseas showed that two-thirds of the British public still thought that Africa was dependent on the West. In reality, for every pound transferred in aid, between two and three pounds come back to our coffers as a result of the structural imbalance of trade relations.
Some Christians have questioned the fatalism of the lyrics and their implicit theological message, too.
‘There’s something rather disquieting about the “thank God it’s them, not us” sentiment’, says Ekklesia associate Simon Barrow, who works with the mission and development departments and agencies of the British and Irish churches. ‘Do we really mean to express gratitude that someone else is dying?’
He went on: ‘These words make it sound as if the suffering in places like Ethiopia and Sudan is the result of happenstance, and that the fruits of human injustice and inequality are somehow acts of God. No doubt it’s unintentional, but this doesn’t reflect an attitude of responsibility or promote a healthy spiritual outlook.’
Does Band Aid betray West's ignorance?
Tue 16 November, 2004 15:17
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Pop musicians have re-recorded the charity mega-hit "Do They Know It's Christmas?" to raise funds for African relief.
But critics wonder whether the question asked about starving mainly Christian Ethiopians 20 years ago applies when asked about the expected beneficiaries of this year's effort -- mainly Muslim residents of Sudan's Darfur region.
While the intentions are noble, they say the choice of song title also seems to betray the West's ignorance of Africa.
Millions of devout African Christians celebrate Christmas with a zeal unmatched by its often commercialised version in the rich world.
Whose concern are the poor and hungry of African continent?
A PAN-AFRICANIST VIEW
THE Band Aid album, Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?, which sold millions of copies and raised millions more dollars directly for famine in Ethiopia 20 years ago is being released again in time for this Christmas. As in 1984, it is predicted that the album will be a runaway success in the Christmas charts.
The fact that the same song could be re released without altering the lyrics (but different musicians) at all and with similar accompanying horrible pictures on televisions, in newspapers and other more widely
accessible multi media today than then speak volumes.
I am particularly irked about that dubious line: “Thank God, tonight it’s them instead of you”!
It has always intrigued me why the conscience of the West can only be pricked by degradation of other peoples.
The process of getting westerners to part with their donations end up dehumanizing and degrading Africa. Instead of creating the much needed understanding and solidarity it creates an unequal power relations with psychological hang-ups about superior and inferior peoples, one a permanent donor and the other is a permanent supplicant.
Africa is not a poor continent, but our peoples are poor because they are powerless over their resources. People are powerless in their countries and our countries are impotent in global power relations.
Only political will can save Darfur
November 16 2004 at 10:52AM
By Joan Smith
Clearly something happens to people who buy singles at this time of the year, putting them in the mood for doses of sugary sentimentality as they prepare to spend several trying days cooped up with their relatives.
But the Band Aid single is problematic for other reasons. Even in the more innocent age in which it was first recorded, it seemed absolutely gob-smacking that no one involved in the project questioned the appropriateness of singing Do They Know It's Christmas? in the context of a famine in Ethiopia. Not only was it hard to believe that starving children and their parents had given much thought to Santa, but as Julie Burchill pointed out, many of the intended recipients of Geldof's largesse were Muslims.
Two decades later, with Islam at the top of the political agenda, it would be reasonable to expect a greater degree of cultural sensitivity from even the most bone-headed celebrities.
What makes it even worse on this occasion is that the proceeds of the record are intended for Sudan, where the Darfur region has become notorious as the site of a savage religious and ethnic conflict, prosecuted against the Christian and Animist population by the Janjaweed (Muslim) militia.
The prospect of starvation in Darfur over the next few weeks is not the result of the harvest failing or some other natural disaster but the deliberate destruction of crops in the course of this conflict.
Last week Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was caught on the hop at a press conference to launch his annual Human Rights Report when he was questioned about an incident that very day in which Sudanese police fired teargas and beat residents of the El-Geer refugee camp in front of helpless UN and African Union officials.
In this context, asking people to buy a single and hum Feed the World seems banal. (I can't even bring myself to comment on the breathless announcement that Damon Albarn of Blur was going to cook "African cakes" and serve tea to the thirsty singers on Monday.)
McCartney collapsed after Band Aid recording
17/11/2004 - 13:28:52
Former Beatle Paul McCartney was so exhausted after recording bass for the latest Band Aid charity single he dramatically collapsed on the floor.
After two hours in the studio, he fell to the floor shouting, "Enough. No More. Finish."
The shocking moment was captured on film and may be included at the end of the single's video, which will be introduced by Madonna on Thursday at 6.05pm on television.
Utterly Damning Comments from BBC Online
You might have hated it at the time. But over the past 20 years, Do They Know It's Christmas? has attained a mythical glow.
Midge Ure and Bob Geldof are the brains behind Band Aid 20
Looking back, it seemed right for the time - each artist playing to his or her individual strengths, right down to a younger Bono's anguished "tonight thank God it's them, instead of you".
You may wince when the old video is dragged out, or when you hear it in the shops on Christmas Eve. But the song - and the moment - remains unforgettable.
Two decades on, an older Bono repeats his starring role on the Band Aid 20 single - but memories of this track may not be so rosy.
The 21st Century Band Aid is more low-key than the original. Tinkling pianos kick it off, before Chris Martin - a man who couldn't oversell a lyric if he tried - opens the song. So far, so good.
Then Dido's flat vocals kick in - leaving Robbie Williams little room to put some much-needed energy into the line, "but say a prayer...".
With Fran Healy and the Sugababes following, once again there is little space for The Darkness' Justin Hawkins to pick up the pace, and Bono merely ambles through the famous line he first sang in 1984.
Band Aid 20's greatest challenge is to fit a group of singers who differ greatly from those who appeared on the original into a template first laid down 20 years ago.
So, rather than playing to their strengths, the double-acts of Will Young and Jamelia, Ms Dynamite and Beverley Knight sound anonymous.
Joss Stone is one of the stars of the new Band Aid track
The biggest crime, though, has to be Dizzee Rascal's rapping, which sounds as risible as John Barnes did on New Order's 1990 England World Cup anthem, World In Motion.
At least that was meant to be funny, this is, unfortunately, embarrassing.
The track settles down by the final chorus, led by Keane's Tom Chaplin and Chris Martin - who, along with Joss Stone, are the real stars of this version.
But by then it's too late. The record ends with applause - which sadly gives the impression of being self-congratulatory.
Criticising this feels like beating up Father Christmas, but while the original carried atmosphere, this just feels bland.
Perhaps this group of younger, talented acts should have been left to come up with their own composition, rather than being made to follow the style of a previous generation.
But all this criticism is trifling when set against the good this record's sales should do, and it is unlikely to tarnish memories of the original.
And remember the 1989 Band Aid II version? It's still better than that.
Have you heard the Band Aid 20 single? What did you think of it? Below is a selection of readers' views.
Why? The original wasn't brilliant, but it was brave, unique and groundbreaking. This pap merely tarnishes the memory, and the efforts of those who created something special 20 years ago. Can no-one write an original song any longer? Make a donation instead of buying this rubbish - and save some global resources at the same time. How much plastic and paper will just end up dumped? How much of the sale price will actually get to where it's needed?
James Robson, UK
Absolutely awful - what have they done? It sounded Boring and had no comaprison over the original - I played the original straight after which actually made me smile but the Band Aid 20 version was a bunch of wannabes who want to go to take the 1984 glory! Sorry guys, stick to what you know and leave the professionals do the rest! The only good thing about it is the fact that it's for a good cause but taking the votes into considetation - they better hope that they sell any and people just dont donate to charity without buying it!
Julia Harvey, Wales
I have heard it twice now and do have to say I don't mind it. The first one is way better, but still this one is better than number 2. Yes, the rapping is awful and shouldn't have been allowed. I guess the producers thought they needed somthing new. Bad move!
Andrew, Whitehaven, UK
It seems a sad criticism of UK society when we won't just donate a couple of quid to a worthy charity without the added incentive of receiving a well-intentioned cd single in return. PS - the Dizzee verse is essential in every way.
Jeremiah Abbott, Hackney, London
I will buy it because it is for such a worthy cause - but for that reason only. To me, it sounds like it has been very hastily put together, and been released before anyone has actually checked it sounds OK. The production is terrible, all music and no vocal. I couldn't make out who was singing what, which was half the fun of the original version, listening for your favourite star to sing their line. I think it is a true reflection of what a bad state the record industry is in at the moment, but a guaranteed Christmas No. 1.
Clare Harrington, Barnet, UK
These pop wannabes should have stayed in bed, as the new version of the song lacks the desperation and urgency of the situation in Africa and other parts of the world. Worst of all is that 20 years on nothing has changed. It's a shame on us in the developed world, that we can find the money for war, but not to help the needy in any real way.
Tony , Manchester
Sorry Bob and Midge, it just don't hack it! But how could it with todays pop stars all being clones and sounding exactly the same..... The original was great because you could identify the stars by their voices - they also put emotion into it, today's version sounds dull and boring because the majority of the acts don't know what it is to be an individual and how to express themselves (Darkness and Robbie W are exceptions).
Wendy, West Sussex
One word - Dross!!
Simon, Manchester UK
Please get rid of the applause at the end!!! What are they applauding anyway? The fact that they have just ruined a classic?
Stuart, Stamford, UK
Heard it once and was dissapointed - I'm not going to pass judgement yet though! Most of us haven't heard it more than twice! many songs take a while to grow on us (yes, i know we already know the melodies, but the arrangement is a different case).
Shaun Russell, Goring-on-Thames
Heard it once and was disapointed - I'm not going to pass judgement yet though! Most of us haven't heard it more than twice! Many songs take a while to grow on us (yes, I know we already know the melodies, but the arrangement is a different case).
Shaun Russell, Goring-on-Thames
Awful! flat and dull, none of the emotional oomph of the first one and Dizzee sounds like a year 9 school boy singing to his hairbrush. Why don't we stop inflating egotistical popstars and easing their social consience ... i'm with Chris, get off your backside and give the money direct.
No emotion in it, the rapping was awful..
Martin, UK, Reading, UK
A revolting self-congratulatory group of second-rate celebrities anguishing soulfully in public complete with politically correct out of tune rapping. Truly a maudlin attempt by a pathetic bunch of dreary singers. A better attempt would have been produced by hiring a School Choir to record the song. I will not purchase this horrible piece of "modern art"
Louise S Sinclair, London England
Bono's immortal line should have been sung by Beverley Knight and Joss Stone, and the guitars of Justin and Dan Hawkins should have been to the front of the mix. Dispensing with the haunting bell in favour of tinkling pianos was a dreadful mistake. I think they tried to re-make All You Need Is Love at the end of the song, which was a truly heinous error. Scrap any copies made so far, and get back in the studio and do it my way - or it'll be an expensive critical flop.
Chris Page, Letchworrth, UK
The singers are not mature enough to record this one. Unlike the original one, there's nothing emotional here. Also there's a big gap without legends like Bowie, George Michael, Duran Duran and others. Want to help people? Give the cash straight.
Anup, Kerala, India
Great cause but this remake is awful, the backing music is over-the-top, the rapping is unnecessary and even Bono appears to have messed his part up!
Awful version, awful arrangement, but the cause is very worthwhile. I for one won't buy this rubbish but will opt for a straight forward donation.
Peter, East Sussex
Not bad. Dizzy Rascal's rapping takes it beyond the original but in my honest opinion, it is not quite as good as Sonia et al's version in 1989.
Paul Kilby, Merchant City, Glasgow
Ok, most of you have said that the Dizzee Rascal rap was a bad idea. They made an attempt and it was alright. It has a mixture of all sorts of music in there so it does apply to all (even the rap you all thought was terrible!!) and I like the African music at the end. I think it was a good idea. The original, I felt, was much better than this version as it had a more Christmassy feel to it.
Justine, Epsom Surrey Uk
I was shocked by just how bad the record is compare to the first one. Yes it is for a good cause, but we should not have to put up with a messy attempt and then get told to buy two or three copies. They should have just covered Clive Dunn's 'Grandad' and given the money to 'help the aged'. I am actually quite saddened by the whole thing. Maybe it just reflects the lack of talent in the charts compared to the 80's I am more than happy to avoid this song and just give the money to the charity.
John Percival, UK
When I first heard of the plans for a new Band Aid single, my initial reaction was that a new song should be written, owing to some of the cliched (and factually incorrect) original lyrics. However, once I'd listened to the track a second time to get over the all-too-natural comparisons with the original version, I have to take off my hat to Midge Ure and Nigel Godrich for breathing a lot of new life into a very tired old song. And despite not being a huge fan of Dizzee Rascal, I actually found his rapping section quite a revelation. However, I am annoyed that some of the artists were obviously put forward for the recording by their cynical managers and label bosses, rather than wait for Geldof's call. They know as well as anyone that a charity single helps shift a few more units of your current album, particulaly if you schmooze the paparazzi outside the studio (which didn't happen to the same degree in 1984) and plug your latest video whilst premiering the song on national television and radio. There may not have been any egos inside the studio but there have been quite a few outside. They know who they are...and they should be ashamed of themselves!
I'm 15 and even if they are trying to appeal a younger audience, I still think Dizzee Rascal's rap ruins it ! Also what happened to Natasha Bedingfield? She's a great singer but I couldn't hear her! The song doesn't gel like the 1984 one and it doesn't have the emotion either! There were loads of brilliant artists in it and if you just take out the rap and put more emotion in it, the song will come alive!
Rebecca , Frimley UK
The rapping is terrible. I would have gone out and brought it if it wasn't for that bit. The original is the best and always will be my fave Christmas song.
Comparing the two singles just about sums up the difference between 20th and 21st century music.
Arthur Adams, Warrington, UK
This is bad, it's all commercialised and hyped. The original '84 was so much better, and they missed a chance to better it properly this time. I'd prefer simply to donate to a charity rather than actually buy this record. The problem is, it's so bad that people won't, and it'll defeat its own, original purpose.
John Stevens, London, UK
The piano is too intrusive, spoils the whole recording. Sounds, overall, like a rabble. Seems as if there were too many fingers in the pie. Sorry,will not purchase.
Ron Rodgers, Milton Keynes England
Good Cause -Bad music. Not that the original was much better. Compared with the sublime Perfect Day, featuring Lou Reed, Dr John, Bowie etc etc, all three Band Aid single were/are complete dross. Forget the record, make a donation!
What a great shame. The concept of a group of current stars getting together to help a very needy cause was great. But why oh why couldn't anyone have come up with a new, fresh, original song. This re-make is hugely dull; it has no drive or core; the rapping is frankly pitiful, and the self-congratulatory applause tagged on to the end seems rather a sick joke given the desperately poor quality of the production.
Bruce, Gloucester, England.
The cause is worthwhile still we shouldn't lose sight of that. However, this new "20" version is simply rubbish! The original is a far better record, the rapping in the new song is only reflecting today's music tastes and is out of character with the original. Radio keep playing the original version please!!!
Ian Fraser, Derbyshire
Whether the song was fantastic or rubbish it was still going to sell loads. And now i have heard it although some parts are a bit bland it is still going to sell! Robbie Williams and Bono are great on it! The rapping by Dizzee, brings the song up to date and changes it a bit to make it sound original. Having, Robbie, Dizzee, Jamelia, Bono, Will Young and loads more fantastic UK acts, it's a great record! I found it interesting to guess who was singing when and it makes you realise how different people's voices are. It's great! It's Christmas! It will sell!
It¿s just unbelievably bad. I would pay double for the old version, as long as I don't have to buy this version. No talent, no atmosphere. Joss Stone didn't even know who Bob Geldof was before she was asked to sing on this tune for crying out loud!
Bob, London, England
In 1984, we had the world's biggest stars coming together to perform an original hit. In 2004, we have a bunch of b/c-list starts trying to re-make it. Instead of getting the REMs, Eminems, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Britneys & Justins of the world, we have to make do with bloody Will Young, Jamelia, Keane & Dizee Rascal et al. They don't have the profile, let alone the talent, to do justice to the originals. If you want to raise money for Africa (and you should), give it to Oxfam, or make a telephone donation to Live Aid.
Certainly not as good as the original, but I think it's a grower, especially the build to "feed the world" in the middle, which is handled well. It loses the plot towards the end though. And they should edit out Dido! (Best-selling female UK artist ever? How'd that happen?) Still a great cause, though, so count me in!
Darren, Nottingham, England
Really excited when I heard it was going to be on the radio, then I heard it... What a load of tripe!!! There is no flow to the song anymore, and Bono embarased himself when compared to his original attempt, which had emotion. Re-release the old version so that people will buy it and listen to it. Good cause that I will donate to with out getting the single. Tosh!!!
Dave, Petworth, West Sussex
I still prefer the 1984 version and unabashedly admit to loving the song, despite the criticism of the lyrics over the years. At the risk of sounding trite, it's the thought that counts, yes? As for this version: I would have loved to hear more of Bev Knight. The lines they gave her didn't showcase that voice of hers at all. What a shame. I'd like to point out here that perhaps the "spat" between Bono and Justin Hawkins may have been trumped up a bit by the media (who have been well known to do such a thing time and time again)... maybe even in the hopes that the controversy might boost sales? In any case, I thought Bono's performance unremarkable compared to the original version. Justin Hawkins, however, has pleasantly surprised me... fabulous! Well done!
Pop collaborations are almost always a disappointment, and to be fair I wasn't hugely impressed by the first one when I first heard it, but this effort sounds utter pants, lifeless, souless, tinny and devoid of any passion. Given the comments above; why not have a Band Aid stand-off and re release the first one? Surely some people would buy both, while I'm sure there would be a lot of other people who would buy the original, but who won't buy the new one.
Andy Tomlinson, Manchester
For the past 20 years a legend has developed in the poorest parts of Africa about where the aid comes from. They don't know where it comes from or why, they just repeat the stories that it comes from musicians in a far away land. Band Aid works.
Matt Lewis-Garner, Eastleigh, UK
Noble cause aside, there's no denying the song is flat and slightly impassive in comparison with the original. Hopefully it will help younger people relate easier to the original sentiment, but with the plethora of needless covers these days, it's a shame with the abundance of talented artists a new song wasn't written.
Maurice L, London, UK
Not a patch on the original (which will also be on the single) - the Sugababes' lines are too quiet, and hard to hear over the music; Dizzee Rascal's rapping interrupts the flow of the song, and it seems to descend into cacophany at the end. That said, I'll still buy a copy.
Richard, Lancashire, UK
Give it time, people, it may grow on you. At the end of the day, let's not forget that it's for a good cause. If you happen to have £4 in your pocket, buy the single even if you don't like it that much; help to make someone's Christmas a little happier.
Helen Inglis, Scunthorpe
I don't think anything can compete with the original Band Aid. Music tastes have changed, but these days anything will get to Number 1.
Jono Read, Norfolk, UK
Ok, this version is pretty grim (and I'm old enough to have bought the original). What I don't understand is that many of the people who are up in arms saying the quality of the song is irrelevant because it is in a good cause (which no-one is disputing) probably haven't contributed to the many aid agencies and charities who have been helping the people of Dafur over the many months since the crisis began. What this kind of fund raising does achieve so effectively is publicising the plight of other human beings and making the contribution of funds to such causes "cool".
The new Band Aid song is welcomingly different to the original. I'll be buying it as soon as its out and it will give us all a bit of enthusiasm when we tune in to hear that it's the Christmas number 1 for 2004! We can all have a Happy Christmas knowing that it is for a fantastic cause. I think every house should have a copy.
Clare Coster, Uxbridge, UK
Didnt like it. Original was much better. Well done to Dizzee Rascal for having the courage to do his rap but unfortunately it sounds totally out of place, as does the 'jam' session near the end. I have a suggestion - don't buy it, send a fiver to charity instead.
Daz, Rochester, UK
Why not write and record a totally new song and call it something other than "Band Aid"? The idea of all these stars getting together to raise money is a good one and will sell records. However, simply re-recording an old hit and using the success of the old one to market the new one is bound to draw unfavourable comments from critics and loose them sales.
Amy, Dunstable, UK
The original version sounded better and more like Christmas than this version, also the original had more emotion and power in it. And I thought that Dizzee Rascal's rap ruined the song.
David, Ilford, England
Stop whinging everyone! Honestly... It really doesn't matter if it's any good or not. Buy it and throw it away if you don't like it. What matters is that it will raise cash and awareness.
I heard the song this morning on my car radio and cringed with embarrassment. Although it starts off well, I thought the DJ's were mucking about singing the famous Bono line - it was awful!!! I read Bono tried to come across as more sincere and tried to whisper the words this time around, but mate, it sounded terrible. Why wasn't George Michael involved? However, we will all buy it and never play it as it's for a good cause, but think you should release the orginal on the B side for those of us who bought the original.
Jackie Alexander, London
Where are the drums on the new version? The reports talked of three drumkits, but where are they in the mix? Good cause, but perhaps not the best musical result.....
Dire, bland and not as good as the original. At least on that one each singer was recognisable and you didnt have to scramble around for the sleeve to see who was singing what line.
Yes, it's for a great cause, and yes, in an ideal world everyone who can afford to should buy records/whatever for causes of this kind, but surely it's not selfish/too much to ask that we might have a quality piece of music on the said disc? I'm afraid that since Live aid, rock/pop stars do not give generously without thinking first of their careers. Shame.
The original is better, of course. The song is flat and just trying too hard. Many people said they would buy it anyway, fair enough. But why not just donate that money straight to the DEC/Oxfam/Save the Children? That way you won't have to listen to the song, but you will have done your bit. In fact, more money may have gone to the cause.
Amy, Oxford, UK
People complain about Dizzie Rascal's rap but I think his is the only decent contribution, the rest is pap. I'd go as far as saying he should have written a new song. It's been 20 years since the original and little has changed, only the names of the dictators.
Tom Wright, Leatherhead, UK
With all that talent why did they have to re-release an old record? Wouldn't a new song especially written make more of an impact. Those of us who bought the old record might not bother with this re-hash, but would probably buy a new song. A waste.
CrisDa, london england
Not as good as the original. I'm not a fan of Dizzee Rascal's rap. It doesn't go with the song at all. A star-studded line-up, but not a good performance.
Eddie Walter, London, UK
Lets face it, It was never going to capture us like the original song 20 years ago. A couple of artists save it from being totally dull (Dizzy Rascal NOT being one of them!). As long as we all do our bit and buy it, surely thats the most imortant thing?
Kevin, Surrey, Croydon , UK
What a fantastic idea - buy a shiny ashtray/coaster and money goes to a truly worthwhile charity. Splendid. I'll go out and buy 2! What... it is music, you say?... I don't think so. Music has melody, passion and soul!
Phil, Southern England
I agree with everyone that it's not as good as the original (although I wasn't born when that one was released!) but this one is still fantastci! It's just refreshing and has breathed new life into it!
Paul Muston, Reading, England
This. Was. Terrible. I have to put that in three sentences because I don't think anything else could quite get the point across. They messed around with the arrangement (foolish), the new crop of performers demonstrated perfectly the fact that they all sound the same (unsurprising), and had to be carried through the record by those who have been there before (thank Heaven for Bono). The cause is undoubtedly just, and the money raised from the sales will be crucially important to helping the situation in Sudan, but I would stongly suggest to anyone looking to help that they donate the value of what they would have paid for this directly to the cause itself. Not only will you be helping the children in Darfur, you will be helping your eardrums as well.
Doug Smith, Bath, UK
Absolutely woeful - not one saving grace. It sounds, in the main, like a bunch of people who want to be seen / heard to be doing something, but have absolutely no emotional involvement with the 'cause' whatsoever (as the original did too). It's for charity - well done, but I don't need celebrity endorsement to dip my hand in my pocket? Oh, and if you do buy it, please remember, charities aren't just for Christmas...
Lee, Hebburn, England
I think I'd rather just make a donation straight to the charity. The record isn't that bad - what annoys me is these super rich popstars telling us not to be selfish this christmas and buy the record when their combined wealth is probably more than the record will make for charity.
Sian Davies, Bristol
I wish it all the success in the world! I just hope that the Christmas albums of the future stick to the original and best.....
Robert Bell, Maidenhead, Berks
I find it somewhat irksome that a group of overpaid popstars dressed in ridiculously-priced designer clothes are begging us mere mortals to part with our hard earned cash for such a limp rehash. Exactly how much money did Bono waste charting a private jet to re-sing his lines? The hypocrisy is laughable. Perhaps if the popstars forgo their Mercedes and Tiffany jewellery rather than just paying lip service to the cause they might earn a bit more respect for their charitable efforts.
Caroline, Solihull, UK
I'm very disappointed in the new version. It sounds rushed and unfinished. I don't have an issue with trying a different approach, but the new version is just awful.
Clive Griffiths, London, UK
The original is by far the best but I think Joss Stone and Chris Martin were great here. Why, oh why, was Bono brought back.......he really should have been left in the 80's!!!!!
Ed, Santiago, Chile
OK its not as good as the original, but was it ever going to be. They have purposely been different as the music tastes have changed. Yes Dizzee Rascal's rap doesn't fit with the rest of the songs but the lyrics really mean something and match with the other lyrics. Remember Bob and Midge were involved and they obviously wanted it this way. As long as it makes people notice the world's problems and raises money then it has done its job.
Hannah Bolton, Sheffield
I think this song needed a little more work. It seems so last-minute. I thought this version was quite good but obviously nothing on the original. I didn't like the rapping but I love the idea that they were putting more of a range on it. It's wonderful how so many different types of singers can come together and make a song like this (even if its not as good as it could have been) and at least they have tried
OK so it's 20 years on and things have changed, music talent now is probably not as good now as it was then, but only because it's so hard to be original anymore. So instead of re-doing a classic which 20 years ago sounded great, why not re-write the song completely to suit the musical talents of today? It's not going to stop me buying it, I don't have to listen to it!
Paul, Chelmsford, UK
Absolutely terrible - Dizzee Rascal should be ashamed of himself.
Mark Bate, Durham, UK
Do you not think, that complaining about how Dizzee Rascal's contribution stood out to much, and then complaining about how bland the track was, is rather hypocritical? I think you should appreciate the reason the track was produced, and if you do not like it, do not listen to it, simple as that. You can donate money directly to the charity last time I checked.
I heard it this morning and just couldn't believe my ears. It was awful. With all the musical talent they had, it should have been better.
Alan Atkin, London
Embarrassingly bad. I had my head in my hands at several moments. Still, not quite as bad as the musically illiterate 1989 version, with the execrable phrasing of that generation's singers. Just donate to Oxfam.
Brian Cullen, Brit in Texas
The original was a stirring emotional experience bringing light to an issue that most people would have rather turned a blind eye to. Why they would remake this at all is a mystery. I would have been happier to have seen the original rereleased and have a new generation experience the quality and talent that went into the first recording.
Liz, Eugene, Oregon, USA
It was an awful slice of cheesey shmaltz then, and it's an awful slice of cheesey shmaltz now. I will be giving money directly to Oxfam as always, and ignoring Band Aid as far as is possible.
Andy Castle, London
When I was a lad, a young man with passion in his heart and fire in his belly captured the energy and belief of his generation, released a fabulous single, organised a great pop concert and helped to feed the world. 20 years on and still nobody has managed to produce anything approaching it. The song, I'm afaid - is uninspired and lame, and not a patch on the original. Full marks to Bob for raising the issue (and cash) again - but now is the time to "enter stage right" a new champion for a new generation. But is there anybody today who is up to the job?
Bobby Bell, Holyport, Berks
Production-wise, it does appear to be a bit of a rush job. Dizzee really doesn't help matters either. But saying that, the quality of the song is secondary compared to the issue it highlights.
Matt, Doncaster, England
I thought it sounded great. It will never live up to the original but it still sounded fresh and up lifting. I do miss those cheesy bells though!
Chris Spencer, Birmingham, England
Very poor all round, but then no matter how good it was it would always lose in comparison to the original. Rather than buy this I think I'll just donate the same amount to charity.
Stephen Jamieson, East Kilbride, Scotland
The new version is terrible but that's largely irrelevant... isn't it? The old version was new, original, and much more filled with emotion. My feelings are torn: on one hand, this is definitely a worthwhile cause to contribute to, but on the other hand handing over money for a recycled idea is definitely not worth it.
Jeff Swain, Cambridge, Ma, USA
I think Dizzee has been harshly criticised. He's a rapper and therefore raps his lyrics instead of singing them. I think a brand new song should've have been written for this cause. It's never going to have the same effect as in 1984 as we're all far more cynical than 20 years ago.
Carl, London, UK
Dizzee Rascal's must be the worst rap since Mohammed Al Fayed on the Ali G show. He has singlehandedly ruined what should have been a great cover of a classic charity song. Hang your head Bob Geldof, how could you invite such nonentities into the studio.
Lex Bronze, Essex
The song is for charity. It is not there to win an Ivor Novello award. It may not come close to the impact the original song made in ¿84, but sadly nor do the TV images anymore. Where this version this will succeed is that it will appeal to a more diverse audience than the ¿84 version. Through its varied participants it will have numerous fan bases reaching for their wallets. This is all that counts.
J Edwards, UK
I think the Dizzee Rascal rap is the best part of the record. It's the only part that's original and the only part that has any kind of soul in it. The rest is lifeless and dull.
Dave McB, Stoke, UK
I think some people will have forgotten that it's still going on today and wasn't just 20 yrs ago. The re-release of this song will remind people and hopefully, whether they like it or not, they will buy it. It should also make children aware of the crisis in Africa and because of the pop stars they recognise on the CD they will want to help.
A.L. Loveday, London England
Full credit goes to Chris Martin and Tom Chaplin, they are the only people on the record who have saved it in anyway, the rest is uninspiring and dull. As the article says Martin and Chaplin are the stars of it. The Rapping is awful and really shouldn't be there.
Once again, they have fallen foul of the curse of trying to improve a fantastic song but, as usual, failed miserably.
It's fine, let's leave it at that.Why do we always have to compare?
Granted it¿s not as good as the original, and they sound like they are shouting towards the end, but when you get such a variety of styles contributing it is hard to like all the separate sounds. My hope is that people will buy it because there is an artist on it they like (Chris Martin's intro was the best part for me) and that way it will raise an amazing amount of money because it will cover a wider audience than any other single. With the internet download as well hopefully people from other countries will buy it.
I was nine-years-old for the original release, so for me, Band Aid IS Christmas. I simply can't remember a Christmas without it. For me, the disappointment comes through just trying too hard to be different, modern and trendy - the clanging jam at the end is a racket, when surely everyone wanted - and deserved - a rousing chorus that stirred even the most cynical of Christmas stooges into running into their local record shop to buy it. The 80s have been popular over the past couple of years, and I can't help thinking we could've brought this phenomenal Christmas track to a brand new generation. That said... of course I'll be buying it and hope it raises millions for charity.
Elisabeth Richards, Portsmouth, UK
So much talent, so disappointing! The original sounded more up-to-date than this version, which is akin to Grange Hill's Just Say No, trying to hard to be hip when the people involved usually manage it effortlessly. 11 out of 10 for bringing the issue back into the spotlight - nothing wrong with that.
Leigh, Basildon, Essex
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I heard it. It does send a shiver down the spine, but only because it evokes memories of the original at this time of year. It's just not as good as the original, simple as that!
Barnaby, Leicester, UK
I remember buying the original vinyl (which I still own). I also remember the tear I shed when I first listen to that version. This newer version doesn't move me at all. And the rap thing was totally out of place and seemed to just fill a culture gap and doesn't add anything to the mood. I play my old vinyl every Christmas since I that first day.
Tyson, Maryland, USA
I liked it. At least there was an attempt to give it a bit of sentiment. Low-key doesn't mean bad, and anything is better than the original Bananarama-driven dirges we were previously served up. Dizzee rules! PS - What happened to Kylie?
I would have to agree with my wife who after hearing the song commented "its another one of those nothing songs".
Matt Stannard, Herts
The original was a group of talent in one room recording a song that was almost created on the fly. This is a handful of artists, some in the studio, some elsewhere in the world recording an overproduced record while trying to get on. Although it has moments of goodness, mainly until Robbie finishes, it's ultimately appalling. Still for the cause and for Geldof I'll buy.
Well, I liked it, right up until Dizzee Rascal's murderous rapping. He virtually killed the song, and not even Tom Chaplin's voice could rescue it. Of course it wasn't as good as the original, but let's face it, how often is a cover ever as good as the original? I thought that, Rascal's ear-splittingly awful rapping aside, it was a nice song, and let's not forget that it's for a just cause.
Graeme Barrie, Doncaster, UK
The new version is over-produced and under-performed. The original, produced by Trevor Horn, had a minimal backing track giving the singers space for thier vocals to shine through. Also, we had some great vocal performances on the original, with Paul Young, and Boy George giving terrific performances to get it started. On the remake, we have Chris Martin and Dido giving very lacklustre performances even by thier standards (given that Chris Martin canot really sing in tune anyway). The kitchen sink production, with the overuse of the "joanna" piano sound completing the bland canvas. the rapping is a token gesture that is risible. Even Bono sounds bored and unconvincing - the producer should have got him to do it the same as before - but it is quite clear that the producer has not had a grip on the record from the opening bars. Verdict great cause, rotten record that sounds like a kitchen sink demo made by amateurs.
Mark Robbins, Birmingham
There is only one Band Aid and that's the first. I can't help but compare, and this one doesnt even match. I think it would have been better for them to have done a completely different song.
When I heard Dizzee Rascal's "contribution" I thought it was Chris Moyles playing a joke clip over the top of the song. It's not even comparable to the original and is very disappointing considering the talent we have in the UK at the moment. Hopefully people can look beyond that and buy the single anyway to help raise money... perhaps a little can be put to one side to pay for a voice coach for Dizzee.
Marc, Oxford, UK
I don't think you can really compare the two versions. The naivity of the original concept is lost in this recording. People appear to have been falling over themselves this time to be involved whereas in the 80's Bob Geldof had to browbeat people into taking part. They had no idea how everything would turn out, and had to work all through the night to achieve what they did. Although I should not criticise people's efforts, I feel that this is as much a publicity event for the people involved, rather than a plea from the heart. Please forgive an old cynic.
Oh come on... It really isn't as bad as all that. Fair enough, Dizzee Rascal sounds out of place. But this record is not an attempt to make Coldplay, Busted and Dizzee fit together in a seamless musical journey. It is about raising awareness. It is about starting conversations. And the presence of Dizzee Rascal, Miss Dynamite, Dido, The Darkness and all will start those converations in more places than if Coldplay recorded it on their own!
God, it's bland. If you must give money to help this generation of starving people produce yet another generation of starving people then give the money direct to a charity. Give it to CAFOD or Oxfam. Better still, give it to the Battersea Dogs Home, at least those helped by them are neutered to prevent them from producing another generation to leech from the west. Why should Europe help Africa when Africa won't help itself?
Ebenezer Scrooge, Victorian London, England
Although some people may think this version of the song is poor, I disagree. In my opinion it's better than the original. Dizzee Rascal's rap may be out of place in the song but that is the only criticism I can find. It is for a very good cause and even if you don't like the song you should still go out and buy it.
Craig Wood, Mottingham, London
What bah-humbug comments! Where is your Christmas spirit??? It may not be the most genius of musical songs but surely the bigger picture of what it represents is more important??? Whether you loved the mullet-styled, heart felt vocals of 20 years ago or prefer this slightly watered-down version, stop complaining and go out and buy it!
Regardless of the difference between the three versions of the song the problem remains the same. That unfortunately is the single point of this record. Bob was right - we, the original Live Aid generation, made a promise 20 years ago. This year the next generation are holding us to account, demanding we make good that promise.
Merx England, Hove, UK
This version is awful and doesn't carry at all the "emotion" of the previous version. The singers are a talented bunch, however, it feels like the rearrangement of the song was done in a shoddy way. Also this song should be about charity and not egos - that's why I find Bono's attitude towards "that line" totally pathetic - he should have left it to Justin Hawkins to deal with it as originally intended.
The legend of the original should not have been altered with in such a manner. What would have been better would have been a completely new song for the same cause, thereby hopefully creating a new legend.
Kamal Aggarwall, London, UK
First impression was that the orginal was better, but I hope and expect that it will grow on people. They have totally ruined the whole middle of the song with the useless raping and the out-of-tune "Feed the World" section after. The chorus picked up the tempo and feel to the song afterwards. My personal opinion is that they should have kept to the script and not made a odd mix on the track. The other thing that I noticed was the claping by the artists at the end of the song. Now two questions, 1) What is the cover like and 2) Will Live Aid be back next year?
Daniel Whitley, Oxford, England
The song is different, and I don't like the rap either. But Fair play to them getting it out there and giving it a go. And not knowing who Bob Geldof is is not a crime. Ask him whether he cares if he is known to everyone, or if he cares that people are dying? I am quite sure of the answer he will give you. With all the miserable comments on this website its no wonder we continue in a world where this type of problem affects so many people. Try understanding what Bob has to say, rather than kidding yourself that by listening and passing judgement you have done "enough".
Heard it a number of times today and although i will buy it and its all in a good cause..what a disappointing opening with Chris Martin and Dido...very bland and all very depressing, who's idea was that?? The song doesn't start kicking in till the Sugababes. Still prefer to hear the original version but like everthing I'm sure it will grow on me.
As is the case these days, the pop factories that feed the huddled masses around the chart hits shows are simply more concerned with image than style .... and this is the result. Pure pop pap. An insult, no less! Burn it!
Marcus Lazarus, London NW2
Everyone keeps going on about how awful Dizee Rascal's rap was but the most dire thing about this version to me is the Sugababes. Their first line sticks out and not in a good way either. Regardless of my opinion I'll still buy it.
Dreadful. No other word for it. Totally lacking in imagination.
John Owen, Jersey
People seem to miss the point that the inclusion of young 'teen' stars plays on the fact that it is their huge fan bases that will buy the record. The 80s guitar is classic from The Darkness and I think Dizzee's bit is outstanding: it adds youth and difference into a song that will benefit enormously by appealing to the main buyers of CD singles. And I love Dizzee's bit - did I mention that!
Charlie Jones, Leeds, UK
A song that creates awareness about poverty and hunger in rest of the world to the younger generation is outstanding. We should do more things like Band Aid.
I am disappointed. I wanted that "shiver up the back" reaction and it didn't happen. Yet hearing the original after 11 months and two weeks since last Christmas had just that effect on me. I was there 20 years ago, buying multiple copies. This year? I shall donate the equivalent to Oxfam. Its another victory for style over content.
Tricia Gardener, Bristol UK
I think even thought the current version is much better than the 1989 (Franklly most of the pop starts who did the 1989 version were one hit wonders!) but it will never replace the orginal one for impact which it had on me when I was only 9 years old.
Evonne Okafor, London, UK
Glad to see the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well in most of the comments above. IT'S A CHARITY RECORD. I really like it, it's more melodic and soulful than the original, Dizzee Rascal's rap grabs your attention and I like that. Only the truly cynical can fail to be moved by the intentions of the track.
If they thought it could raise more money they could release the single with the other verson's on it as well actually thinking about just the original with do fine.
I love it!! I love it!! I love it!!! Rock the world, baby!! Chris, Dizzie and Joss. Oh Joss, what a babe. Band Aid 20 is going to be a monster of a hit!!
Paul Grundy, Liverpool
I hated it and most definitely won't be wasting my money on it. I can't understand why so many of you are saying you think it's awful but will still buy it. Why not just make a donation instead?
Can they release a version without the rap?
Yuan Liao, Birmingham, UK
The rapping is terrible and the harmony guitars sound tinny. However, if it had Terry Wogan and Boris Johnson on lead vocals I would still buy it!
The original is the best. Dizzee Rascal's rap ruins the song for me. The cause is extremely important and worthwhile. So any money this new version raises can only be good. With all the negative comments about Dizzee Rascal's rap, I wonder if they will release a version without it.
Ok, its not as good as the original. Everyone knows that. However this time they have much more diverse music styles to cater for. I think they have a bit of everything in there. Even Dizzee Rascal's rap will appeal to somebody out there. The song has done what it is meant to do, grab the attention of the public and make a lot of money,which it will undoubtedly do. Well done to everyone involved. It's not a song to be criticised but to be supported.
All for a good cause but rather bland. I will still buy it though. What happened to Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn. That would have been interesting.
Mark, Glasgow, Scotland
Although Mr Geldof told everyone to leave their ego at the door, it's obvious the lines have been sung in order of who is the most sucessful and popular. It's disjointed, slightly busy rhythmically and the extra Queen-esque guitar overdubs sound like a school rock band from the late 80's. Mr Nigel Godrich makes his usual reversed bell/guitar appearance. As for the Pop-Idol style adlibs at the end from Joss Stone and Will Young, please spare us ...however, it is still a just cause and will hopefully give hope to people who otherwise would not have it. I'll be buying it, and I hope you will too!!
Jim Martin, Glasgow
It's difficult to slag it off because it's for charity, but the whole song leaves me feeling like I've been given a naff Christmas present that I'm supposed to be grateful for.. ..or bought a cake at a charity stall which turns out to be minging. Starts strongly, before petering out into weak, flat rubbish. Re-release the original!
Like the new melody but the voices are too quiet. Give it time though... I think it's a grower.
It's really bland. There's no feeling or strength in the singing at all. I think they'd sell more if they just re-released the original.
Dan Smith, Redhill, Surrey
I think we are missing the point - it is totally irrelevant what people think about the quality of this recording / performance. If fewer people die from malnutrition as a result of this record being bought then it has served its purpose. Just buy it!
Nigel Pettinger, Bromley, UK
I'm not a rap fan but I appreciated Dizzee Rascal's contribution - he sounded distinctive and he at least contributed something new to the song which he wrote on the spur of the moment, something which perhaps all the other artists could have done!
Sounds like they are trying really hard to NOT sound like the original, but as a result doesn't have the emotion of the original. In fact when I hear it, in my head I'm still hearing the first version and get disappointed when they sing the chorus as it sounds really dull & flat!!! It would be a nice idea to release both. I would prefer to buy the original even now, but then again it would be a bit embarrasing for the new song if the original made number one, eh!!!
Davinia, North london, UK
The rapping of Dizzee Rascall seems to have let down what should have been a really good version of an old classic. But aside from that what I don't understand is where the proceeds are actually going from the record. There is all this publicity about who will sing what line what everyone thinks of the song etc. But who actually cares? What we should be concentrating on is where the money is actually going - not whether Justin or Bono gets the best line.
Anna & Claire, Nottingham
Impossible job to equal that of 20 years ago. Full marks for the team for making it happen though and lets all buy it anyway. But let's be honest, was the rapping necessary, and it could sound a little more like Christmas (as the orginal successfully managed).
Colin L, Herts, UK
This new version of the 1984 classic has certainly got people talking (whether in praise or dismay) and in doing so it has again bought to the forefront of people's minds the desperate plight of millions - job well done. So for better or worse, it doesn't really matter, everyone should still go out and buy the single because it is there to raise money for a much needed cause.
Charlotte Campbell, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Woeful, tuneless, dire, appalling. So much the same as the rest of the music about.
Scott, Rochester, UK
As a record Christmas record, I thought it was very poor and didn't evoke the same feelings of Christmas or helping the cause. It starts really well but it all seems to fall part at the end into a bit of a mess - especially the rap that souinds out of place. However I'm sure it will do really well.
Jarrett Harrison, Surrey, England
I have just heard this version on BBC Radio 2 and I think it is really quite good - an interesting reworking/re-imagining of the original. I especially like the guitar stuff at the end and the modified chords - lets get it to number one!
Fiona Gill, Edinburgh, UK
They should release the original on the same CD single so people can choose which one to listen to. I prefer the original, the latest release lacks enthusiasm from the artists. The idea of rapping was good, but they should have got someone who could RAP!
Adrian O, Huntingdon, England
I was almost lost for words when I heard it this morning. No one can deny it's for a great cause, and no matter what popular opinion is, I'm sure it'll make a lot of money, but what a stinking pile of old.... It's lacklustre, boring and quite frankly an extremely poor cover of what was, and still is, a great Christmas tune. I'll buy it, but doubt it'll ever get played....
The song struggles to make up its mind - is it a sad and emotional song or a jolly knees-up? It swings between the two and that ruins it for me. It just doesn't sound very professional, it sounds disjointed, and I'm afraid the rapping section will age it quickly. Overall I'm disappointed. A newly-written song for today's generation would have been the better option, the original holds too many memories and no cover will ever compare. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope it grows on me though, as the cause is as vital now as it was then.
Roger Callister, UK
Great it ain't. The best way to have done it would be have been to recreate the original as closely as possible, but they haven't. It sounds like a Simon Cowell tune done for the sake of it. Release the original and then have a Christmas 1 and 2 like someone else has suggested. But on top of all that it'll raise money for a good cause and you can't argue with that!
Micky O'Brien, Crawley, England
If I didn't know better I'd have thought it was sung by a bunch of footballers. Rubbish.
Ed W, Britain
If this mess is the best that the cream of western music can do then maybe they should have found some other way to support their just cause. After all, none of them are short of a penny or two.
Mark Marcus, Woolwich, London
Thought Chris Martin's tinkling piano start is great, then it goes to pot! What is that noisy jam session going on in the middle of it? Is anyone trying to play along with the tune?
Good cause, awful song - so it was then, so it is now.
Phil, Yorkshire, UK
Horrible and messy. I'd rather buy the original again.
Debby, Chelmsford, UK
Apart from the song being for a very good cause, there isn't much good about it. It could never beat the original, and what bright spark decided it would be a good idea to add rapping in the middle!! Awful! A very flat re release, what a shame.
Sarah Hollingsworth, Kent, UK
What does it matter what we think of it? The point is to buy it. I fully intend to buy the thing and not listen to it. It probably is rubbish but that isn't an excuse not to support the cause - since when were charity records ever any good anyway? Just part with your £3.99 and stop moaning.
For something so hyped it left you with the bitter taste of disappointment in your mouth... I think many people including myself will buy it as it's for a good cause but personally I'd rather listen to the original or better still buy the original if they decided to re-release it. Shame as it could have been something special..
Tim Marshall, Cheshire
Band Aid 20 is more about personalities and egos rather than using music to bring people's attention to the real issues - the childish spat between Bono and Justin Hawkins typifies this misguided effort.
Mat Clark, Coventry, England
Its awful, simply awful. People mock the 1980s but those taking part and "producing" this version have turned something which was powerful and genuine into self-parodying mockery.
I have heard it now 3 times and the first I heard it I did not think much of it, but it is growing on me. The rap was not so good though.
Julian Smart, London
I was curious to hear what the 'new version' of the song would be like.....the arrangement was fine - but the 'stars' ? How many of them will be remembered in 20 years time ? Very few !!!! Flat, empty, clueless, poorly-produced with weak voices - sounded like a poor school choir practicing...
Phil, Ilford, Essex
It'll definitely be a grower. I think the new arrangement is great - not flat as your reviewer described it - and the new vocals fitted the new feel. Perhaps they were anonymous to your reviewer because he's stuck in a 20 year rose-tinted time warp. This is the 21st century, and this is a fresh new version with fresh new talent. At the end of the day though - who cares. Buy the record. Make a difference.
Spencer, Bournemouth, UK
Rather than patting themselves on the back for giving up their 'spare time' and telling us we should buy it or shoulder guilt, why don't these super-rich superstars cough-up out of their own pockets - they can afford to. Bono is the worst offender as he doesn't even have to pay tax on his 'artistic royalties' in Ireland.
Mark, Enfield, England
Is Band Aid just a waste of time?
HAVE you heard it yet? Chris Martin of Coldplay's tender but earnest opening verse, Robbie Williams's pre-recorded yet lively lines, the Darkness-administered riffage, Dido's apparent belief that being dumped and having sympathy for extreme poverty call for the same style of vocal and (for older listeners) an odd squeaky rapping bit?
Band Aid 20 – named after the 20-year anniversary of the original – premiered 24 hours ago and will worm its way into your ear and stay there until long after it is most likely announced as Christmas No 1, but that's OK – it's for charity. The original sold 3.5 million and raised £10m for famine relief in Ethiopia. Will Young, who sings on the new version and launched it on Radio 1 yesterday, says he hopes Band Aid 20 will sell 10 million and raise even more for Darfur.
Many things have changed since that first version was recorded, not least perhaps the last-minute, perhaps even slightly amateurish feel of doing something. However, Daniel Ryan of Irish supergroup The Thrills and part of the new line-up, believes the spirit has remained. "It'd be hard to beat the original, but it felt just as special," he says. That the original is 20 years old yet commands such respect from contemporary musicians is in part testament to those who went before them – Geldof, Bono, Midge Ure – but the "20" version is notable for how it hauls the song out of the eighties, with a skit from rapper Dizzee Rascal and soulful ad-libs from Joss Stone. Opinion on whether it is better than the original is divided. Paul Hetherington, of Save the Children who attended the recording of the single to help brief some of the stars taking part, believes it is. "It has this anthem-esque quality about it," he says. "Definitely better than the first one."
Even if the single reflects two decades of musical progress, what does its re-release say about progress in Africa? For Tajudeen Abdulraheem, director of Justice For Africa, it says little has been made. "The fact that Band Aid has been relaunched is proof that the situation may not have improved," he says. "It's an indictment both of African leaders and global leaders. If this is all we can do, in 20 years there will be another Band Aid. That line 'Tonight thank God it's them, instead of you', 20 years ago, I had a problem with that sentence. What it means, in effect, is a whole celebration of 'aren't we lucky?' "
Abdulraheem has yet to hear the new version and doesn't know about the debate over who would sing that line. Bono sang it on the original and was reluctant to do so again, which led to speculation that Justin Hawkins of The Darkness would step in, but the U2 frontman and political hobbyist did eventually agree to re-record after he was persuaded it was the most important line and only he could sing it.
That it was the most important line to those who took part, yet the most offensive to others, does imply a certain disparity between the west's perception of need in Africa and what it actually needs. A large proportion of the money raised by the original Band Aid single went into emergency aid rather than development – mainly because the situation in Ethiopia demanded it was so – but it is hoped the funds raised with the sale of Band Aid 20 will have a long-term impact.
Paul Hetherington of Save the Children thinks Band Aid has many benefits and can't be reduced to a charity cash cow. Save the Children was one of the organisations to benefit from Band Aid's proceeds, through the Band Aid Trust, and Hetherington still sees its legacy.
"The greatest achievement of Band Aid is it probably saved five-to-six million people's lives," he says. "The lasting impact was a move towards governments and the public producing the money whenever there's an emergency, so we never returned to the situation in 1984. A famine early warning system in Ethiopia which Save the Children put in place with Band Aid money means people never get to the stage of famine they did in 1984. The joint trucking operation which we established, again with Band Aid money, some of those trucks bought 20 years ago are still taking food aid out now. The other great thing Band Aid did is it professionalised and made much more accountable aid agencies because there became media interest in the work they did. They couldn't be amateur do-gooders anymore."
Hetherington does acknowledge the need for a shift from emergency to development aid, however.
"What we need now is not so much a Band Aid as a bandwagon that's going to roll through to the G8 and bring about real change for Africa. There have been a lot of changes, but what people need to be aware of is we've put a lot of money into emergency relief and sticking plasters, if you like, but not a great deal of money has gone into development work and aid. That's what's needed. If money had gone into development aid over the past 20 years we probably wouldn't be needing Band Aids anymore because we wouldn't be getting these disasters. I know from chatting to Bob and people that they want it to go into development rather than emergency. Emergencies are fairly well resourced today."
Abdulraheem, for one, is reassured by this move towards sustainable development. "I'm encouraged by the fact that Bono and Bob Geldof are now moving away from just saying 'let's help Africa' into issues of justice between Africa and the west and justice within Africa itself, between the rulers and the ruled."
Helping to redress the balance of justice in the continent by organising a bunch of pop stars may seem an incongruous solution, and certainly not one Abdulraheem advocates, yet there is a further dimension to the purpose of Band Aid and it's the least quantifiable: awareness. The carefully-selected stars will reach every demographic and both the pop stars and the public receive an education (this year with an introduction by Madonna). Ryan received his straight from Geldof.
"Bob explained there were people starving everyday and it was a different area from the last time. I think he said it was in Sudan, and he made a very concise speech about it," he says. "He said it wasn't something that could be helped overnight but we were definitely helping by doing what we were doing. I said to him as we were leaving that if there was anything we could do in the future we would."
Hetherington briefed Beverly Knight and Katie Melua on the issues. "Some of the participants were informed and some weren't," he says. "Some knew very little. Your Bobs and Bonos know tons about the stuff, people like Chris Martin and Fran Healy know quite a lot, whereas some of the younger, poppier artists know little about it. I briefed Beverly and Katie who were very keen to know more about the issues and get involved."
Ah, the altruism of it all. Is there no room for cynicism, then? "I think it probably gives credibility to certain artists," concedes Hetherington. "If I was a pop star I'd certainly want to be on the Band Aid single, wouldn't you?"
Band Aid's Endless Refrain Shows Little Has Changed for Africa
Sunday Times (Johannesburg)
November 14, 2004
Posted to the web November 15, 2004
AGROUP of British recording artists, including Sir Paul McCartney and U2 singer Bono, will today enter a London studio to record a new version of the 1984 Band Aid Ethiopian famine relief hit, Do They Know It's Christmas? Proceeds from the song, released this time by Band Aid 20, will go to Sudan's troubled Darfur region - currently the scene of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
What's more, when those musicians enter the studio, they will, according to reports here, besporting "the latest celebrity fashion accessory": white wristbands, as made popular by German supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who wears them to express her support for the fight against Third World debt and African poverty.
This week, the four-disc DVD set of 1985's Live Aid events went on sale. Proceeds will also go to Darfur. As it says on the box: "Still saving lives."
The West is about to get touchy-feely about Africa once more. The cynicism is regretted, but to many it would seem that, in the 20 years between Ethiopia and Darfur, very little has changed.
In fact, there are striking similarities between the two crises, the most chilling being that the then Ethiopian despot, Haile Mariam Mengistu, and the current Sudanese President, Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, would have both preferred the world not to have noticed what was taking place inside their respective countries and let matters run their course - that is, callously allow the deaths of millions of their citizens.
In August and September 1984, just as famine spread across northern Ethiopia, Mengistu put all official business on hold and spent about $200-million on celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of Emperor Haile Selassie. Travel from Addis Ababa was forbidden. As former BBC correspondent Michael Buerk put it in his autobiography, The Road Taken: "A curtain fell across the north and death came in behind it."
When Buerk finally managed to get to the region, his reports, screened on October 24 and 25, 1984, shocked the world, and spurred Irish rock singer Bob Geldof to launch Band Aid.
It was no short-lived phenomenon. Band Aid begat Live Aid which begat Sport Aid which begat Comic Relief - all of which raised hundreds of millions of dollars and, indeed, saved millions of lives.
Geldof managed to keep Africa and famine in the public eye for about two years. He was, according to Buerk, "for all his foul-mouthed scruffiness", a man of exceptional drive and forcefulness.
"I was not there," Buerk writes, "but I treasure the moment he walked up to Colonel Mengistu, one of the most evil rulers of modern times, and called him a c*** to his face."
But not even Geldof could keep it up. He and the world were subsumed by "Africa fatigue".
Throughout all this, and until he was overthrown in 1991, Mengistu continued to wage a series of wars, execute, torture and detain political opponents, and forcibly relocate around 10 million Ethiopians - with little or no censure from the West.
And there was bad news elsewhere. There was genocide in Rwanda, war in Angola, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere, and the growing scourge of HIV/Aids. Corruption was endemic and the continent was shackled by an increasing debt burden.
With the dawning of the new century, however, came a renewed optimism, and the launch of the African Union was an important catalyst.
That optimism is certainly shared by Britain, which has vowed to make the continent the focus of international action when it assumes leadership of both the European Union and the G8 next year. Aid to Africa could be increased by as much as $50-billion a year in the next decade, Britain's International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn, has claimed.
Even so, according to a new consultation document released by Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, the continent's future development must be based on policies initiated from Africa, rather than from donor countries. In other words, donor countries will need to increase aid - and re-evaluate how they direct that aid. Double it, they say, and improve its quality.
Britain's thinking here will, to put it mildly, test the sincerity of many of its EU and G8 partners' commitment to Africa.
Briefly, Britain wants the international community to get behind African efforts to accelerate and sustain growth and development. This will mean strong support for the AU and Nepad.
It also wants stronger health systems and barriers to investment tackled.
And it wants a fairer trade for the continent, especially with regard to agriculture.
To Africans, this last issue - trade justice - is crucial and in dire need of redress. In 1948, Africa (excluding South Africa) had a 5.3% share of world trade. In 2002 this had dropped to 1.7% - despite the fact that Africa has 12 % of the world's population.
According to Data, a debt-relief advocacy group, if Africa could regain just an additional 1% share of global trade, it would earn $70-billion more in exports each year - nearly six times what the region currently receives in foreign aid.
No African government wants to rely on foreign aid for the provision of basic needs.
And they're getting tired of Band Aid.
In fact, Band Aid itself is getting tired of Band Aid.