The song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was originally performed by ‘various artists’ in 1984.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Bob (Boomtown Rats) Geldof (b.1951 and later knighted) and James “Midge” Ure (b.1953) in 1984 after a news report on the famine in Ethiopia. The two brought together the cream of the music charts at that time including Paul Young, Boy George, George Michael, Bananarama, U2, Holly Johnson, Style Council and many others to record the song in one day on 25th November. Under the group name of Band Aid, the single was out the following week and became the Christmas number one that year. It has gone on to become one of the biggest selling singles in history with 3.8 million copies sold in the UK, 2.5 million in the US and ten million globally.
Five years later, producers Stock Aitken Waterman assembled a new line up – Band Aid II – to raise even more money for Africa, this time taking from the pool of artists that were riding high in 1989 including Kylie Minogue, Bros, Lisa Stansfield, Cliff Richard, Wet Wet Wet, Jason Donovan and Bananarama again, amongst others. Once again, the song topped the UK singles chart and was that year’s Christmas number one, receiving a Platinum disc for sales of more than 600,000 copies. It was also a chart hit in many parts of Europe and in Australia and New Zealand.
Fast forward fifteen years and twenty years on from the original, Band Aid (III) were back with the likes of Chris Martin, Dido, Robbie Williams, Busted, Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield, Snow Patrol and many others, and, guess what, it was Christmas number one again! This time shifting 1.1 million copies in the UK and topping the chart in a further eight countries as well as going top ten in Australia, Sweden and Switzerland! Phew!
And finally, in 2014, thirty years on from the original, another go was made with the song as ‘Band Aid 30’ (or Band Aid IV), this time to help victims of the Ebola crisis. This time the likes of Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Sam Smith, Paloma Faith, Bastille and the return of Bono recorded the single, which went to number one in the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Hungary and Spain as well as reaching No.3 in Australia and No.63 in America. It didn’t stay at the top in the UK that Christmas, but did sell more than half a million copies and raised badly needed money to help with the pandemic.
But which one is best?! the 1984 original, the 1989 version, BAND AID 20 in 2004 or BAND AID 30 in 2014? Happy Christmas!