Here’s what separates “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” from “We Are The World” and the other, lesser, ‘80s charity singles. Thirty-four Christmases later, if “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” comes on in the grocery store/shopping mall/randomly comes up on shuffle, I get the warm fuzzies. I sing along. I only cringe during Bono’s ill-advised “tonight thank God it’s them instead of you!” line. Hell, it can be out of season and I’d still be OK hearing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” I mean, it would be weird, but I’d be OK hearing it.
“We Are The World” is in my iTunes library, but it wasn’t for many years. Even now, it’s rated three stars (and that’s an uptick given in the past year or so, as time has softened my opinion of the tune slightly). If I was to hear it in the mall or grocery store, I might have a fleeting flicker of warmth due to recognition (and the fact that even the worst Michael Jackson songs give me the happy feels if only for a few seconds), and then I’d run away screaming. OK, that’s an exaggeration.
Let’s try this again.
“We Are The World” (despite very serious and admirable intentions) is kind of a joke to me. When I think of that song, I think of Springsteen’s over-emotive singing, or it being the first time I heard Bob Dylan’s voice (something I’ve never come around too). I think of Prince feeling like he was too good for the sessions, or the overall pageantry involved with the recording “Do They Know It’s Christmas” is actually a good song. It was also the first. And super shout out to Geldof for being inclusive and throwing some ‘Mericans into the mix, too: did you know that Kool & The Gang and Jody Watley (who was no longer in Shalamar but not yet a Grammy winning solo star) both appear on the song?
Also, this rating is only for the original 1984 recording, not any of the crappy remakes.