The legend of Band Aid and Do They Know It’s Christmas is a tale widely known, and one that will be discussed at length in a later edition of this countdown. It’s a song that encapsulated a moment in time, both in Britain, and Africa. It united a nation on release in 1984, culminating in the Live Aid extravaganza in the summer of 1985.
Five years after the initial release of the song, pop mogul Pete Waterman enlisted a batch of singers he had control of at the time to record another version of Do They Know It’s Christmas. Kylie, Jason Donovan, Marti Pellow, Bros, and a very unsettling looking Cliff Richard clubbed together to sing what proved to be a very forgettable and terrible version of the song.
It seriously can’t be stressed enough just how dodgy Cliff Richard looked in the video.
Twenty years on from the release of the original Band Aid, Bob Geldof realised there was still a problem – he wasn’t famous enough! So he roped in the finest British musical talent of 2004, and they created the third portion of Do They Know It’s Christmas.
Unfortunately for Sir Bob, this was more The Godfather part three than Rocky III, it’s an odd concoction of people who never were any good, people who used to be good, and people I bet you’ve completely forgotten existed.
Another forgotten man, Steve Brookstein, the very first winner of the X Factor was number two in the charts in 2004, with his cover of Against All Odds
The inclusion of this song on my list is purely one of warmth and humour. Christmas is a time to laugh and enjoy yourself, as the stresses of life disappear into a haze of turkey, alcohol, and more turkey. Humour can arise from pretty much anything, and seeing a bunch of failed popstars giving it all in a recording studio trying to shift a few records in the name of charity.
In the spirit of giving, let’s go through the video bit by bit and see just where the talent of 2004 are today.
The video opened with Madonna, who in 2004 was coming off the American Life album and was a year away from releasing her last good song Hung Up. She has continued to attempt to court controversy ever since, although has become largely irrelevant today.
Chris Martin. THEN: The singer of Coldplay who were well on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. NOW: Still the singer of Coldplay, but also a man who names his children after fruit, and is well on the way to becoming the next Bono.
Dido. THEN: Had already peaked in popularity after the phenomenal success of Life For Rent. NOW: Her best of album was released this year – not listened to it but I guess it just contained 15 different versions of White Flag, which is an amazing song.
Robbie Williams: THEN: The biggest artist in the country NOW: That bloke who used to be in a band with Gary Barlow.
Sugababes: THEN: A band who had already been through about 15 different line up changes. NOW: Still exactly the same.
Fran Healy: THEN: Still riding the wave of Travis, who were briefly one of the biggest bands in the country a few years later. NOW: Somebody who kinda looks like the singer of the band who did Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
Bono: THEN: A sanctimonious, hypocritical attention seeker who wasn’t even the second most talented member of his own band. NOW: Exactly the same.
Will Young and Jamelia: THEN: Actual pop stars. NOW: Former pop stars turned Question Time panelists and reality music show judges.
Beverley Knight and Ms Dynamite: THEN: A wonderful singer with some catchy tunes, and a woman regarded as the saviour of Urban music in this country. NOW: A West End star in The Bodyguard, and someone who is now less dynamite, more dire.
The guy from Feeder: THEN: The guy who sang the tune about a bloke who had a jaguar. NOW: Some guy.
Tom Chaplin from Keane: THEN: One of the most hated singers of his generation. NOW: Actually a seemingly decent guy with an interest in cricket.
Dizzee Rascal: THEN: One of the most exciting acts in the country, combining dark lyrics with fascinating music, with a flow unrivaled by any other MC at the time, telling stories about the streets in ways anybody could relate to. NOW: A chart hungry commercial rapper whose descent into the world of big beats and generic lyrics all started with his terrible rap in this song.
Justin Hawkins and Joss Stone: THEN: Coming off million selling albums, two of the most popular singers in the UK. Now: Enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and attempting to stop people from killing her. Hawkins is on the right by the way…
Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield: THEN: One of the UK’s best vocalists who was proficient in both garage hits, and power ballads. Plus, his sister who was beginning to make waves in both the UK, and America. Now: Seriously, when was the last time anyone heard anything from either?
Busted: Then: Mere months away from splitting up, and going their separate ways into different fields. NOW: Two of them have reformed with McFly, with one of them (Bourne) still wearing exactly the same gear he did then. The other member who didn’t join the reformation laughing all the way to the bank.
Thom Yorke: THEN: A weirdo who made good music with his band. NOW: Again, exactly the same.
Paul McCartney: THEN: The man. NOW: The legend.
All this isn’t even mentioning some of the nobodies in the video who never even got a line in the song. Say hello Estelle, Lemar, Katie Melua, Rachel Stevens, Turin Brakes (!), Shaznay Lewis, and some others too dull to even mention. Damon Albarn turned up just to make the tea and to gurn in the video,
What was the point of all this? It’s just to reassure you that no matter how bad music might seem at the moment, these people won’t last. Bastille, The 1975, Jessie J – all things will pass, so this Christmas raise a glass for the other ones – the ones who used to be somebodies, those that never were, and Bono – because everyone deserves niceness at yuletide, even clowns like him.
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