The worst Christmas song of all time and why it’s objectively bad
Every December, radio stations all over the place put Holiday music in their rotations. We tolerate this because, really, who doesn’t love Christmas music? However, in recent years, certain songs have caused controversy. Most notably, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, which depicts the interaction between a man and a woman, where the man turns the creep factor up to ten.
Interestingly, there is one objectively bad Christmas song that has not attracted such scrutiny, even though it is deserving of it. I am talking about Bob Geldof’s 1984 magnum opus, performed by a vast litany of stars including Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, Duran Duran, Bananarama, and Paul McCartney. I am of course talking about “Do They Know It’s Christmas”.
If there is any Christmas song that should be banned from the airwaves, it’s this one, and a solid case can be made.
That bad synth music, tho
Ah the 80s. The age of cocaine, neoliberal capitalism, and bad synth music. This song has elements of all three. Bob Geldof, a friend of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, saw a news report on the famine in Ethiopia and in true neoliberal fashion, decided he had to virtue signal a bit. He called up his buddies Midge Ure and Sting, and they got to work.
The biggest problem they had was that they had to get this song out the door by Christmas, so they broke out the cocaine and a cheap portable keyboard on a Monday afternoon and got to work. The end result was a cacophony of synthetic Christmas bells that sound more like a bad case of tinnitus than actual music, coupled with the preachy singing of super rich pop stars. Cringe-inducing indeed.
It’s extremely racist
Waaaaaay more racist than “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is sexist. Now, I am not against helping people out, but this song drips of colonialism and white supremacy, the do-gooder “white people save Africa” narrative that was used to justify the invasion and destruction of the continent in the first place (and white folks here throwing Indigenous people in residential schools here in Canada too, by the way).
It has a very colonial Western-centric viewpoint and a very condescending view of Africa. Take for example, the following lyrics:
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life Where nothing ever grows No rain nor rivers flow
Oh, and don’t forget this part, sung by Bono:
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
What an asshole thing to say, seriously. Basically, he is sitting in his villa and looking at poverty porn of starving Ethiopian children and saying “Ha! I have it better than you!” I guess we can’t expect much better from a man who cheats on his taxes, though.
So there you have it, a patronizing mess of shallow virtue signalling that causes the stomach acid to hit the back of my throat every time I hear it. Where’s my Zantac?
I find it quite ironic that people get mad at Donald Trump for calling Africa “shithole countries” but still listen to this pile of crap, which essentially says the same thing.
Of course they know it’s Christmas!
Ethiopia is the oldest Christian society on Earth, officially adopting Christianity in as the state religion in 320 AD, almost 300 years before Rome. It is also the only country where Christianity survived the expansion of Islam.
Ethiopia has close historical ties with all the Abrahamic religions, and many events in the Bible happened in Ethiopia. King Solomon, Phillip the Evangelist and the Queen of Sheba were Ethiopian, as were Candace, Caleb, and Jeremiah. Moses married an Ethiopian women. Ethiopia is mentioned 44 times in the Bible in all and it would be safe to assume modern Ethiopians actually descend from the people in the Bible. So yes, they do know it’s Christmas. They knew it was Christmas before the ancestors of Bob Geldof and Sting knew it was Christmas.