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Tuesday, November 16, 2004  
Single of the Year?

Of course it’s not good to snap judge a song on first listen, as Josh found out here, but this is a special case. After all, I’ve heard it, in its prior incarnations, a huge number of times (even if I can’t remember its second time around, thank you Pete), but this new take I have heard only once. So far. Soon enough I’ll probably be sick of it.

Band Aid 20 - “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
No, they probably don’t because the only reason they would even have heard of Christmas or Christianity is because of British Imperialism. Moot point, who cares? First up, Bono totally over plays his line, THE LINE, that line – “well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” – because he’s Bono and he’s got soul, or some nebulous semblance thereof, and he sang it originally, so now he’s gonna sing it better, which means singing it more, with more feeling and more notes and taking up more space, more actual seconds of the record. Secondly the guitar over the chorus, that main melody line, hook, riff, fill, call it what you like, presumably played by yer man from The Darkness, is really garish and high-pitched and 80s hair metal sounding, presumably deliberately. The solo towards the end makes up for it. The whole end of the tune makes up for it actually – it’s like “What’s Going On?” only instead of Marvin, poor, dead, legendary Marvin, it’s all these people you know, these voices you recognise. And therefore it’s all the more… affecting?

I caught the first play on Chris Moyles’ show at 7.57am, or whatever, in the car. Will Young taxi’d over with a copy of it, after they’d finished mixing it last night. He hadn’t heard it finished yet. Midge Ure and Sir Bob said, 20 years ago, that it wasn’t the greatest song ever. It isn’t. I heard it in the car on the way to work. I’ve said this is happening more and more often? I started crying, big daft sobs in the car, bawling my eyes out practically, not quite totally because I was driving and had to keep my shit together, because Bonio or Chris Martin or Jamelia or Sugababes or whoever was singing and, you have to remember I was 5 when this first happened, for the first time it really struck me what this was about. Maybe it was the juxtaposition, mentally, of this and the audio footage of a US soldier shooting a dead body in the head “to make sure” that was played on Five Live last night. Maybe it’s the fact that all those popstars, Bonio excepted, are my generation, my age. We all remember the record from the first time around, and from every Christmas since. We all blanked out the SAW version (I nearly typo’d “pversion” then, somehow – perversion?). Maybe it’s the fact that… who knows? But Band Aid 20 is here, and I hope it wont go away for a while.


11/16/2004 08:42:00 am


Blogger Nick - 3:01 pm

Interestingly, It was Robbie who set me off really, I think.


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005