Thirty years after Band Aid formed to raise awareness and money to fight famine in Ethiopia, some of music’s biggest stars have united to record a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas? Stars such as Bono, Robert Plant, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding and One Direction are lending their voices on the anniversary song in order to raise money to fight the Ebola outbreak.
Bob Geldof, the organizer and philanthropist behind Band Aid, revealed today that he received a call from British finance minister George Osborne on Saturday morning before the start of recording. Osborne relayed the news that the government will not be collecting sales tax on the purchase of the song, meaning that every cent raised by the single will be used to fight Ebola. It is expected that sales of the song will raise millions of dollars.
As artists arrived at the Notting Hill studio in London to begin recording, Geldof spoke of his desire that the record will become a worldwide “phenomenon like it was in the ’80s.” He acknowledged that the current music culture and social media has made it easy to get music for free, but said, “There is a donate button on YouTube. Hit the donate button.”
One Direction’s Harry Styles was one of the first artists to arrive for the recording session, which constituted his second charitable performance in the last two days. Styles, 20, was on hand for the Children In Need television event Friday night, but still woke early in order to be a part of Band Aid. Fellow member of One Direction Niall Horan said that being asked by Geldof to participate in the song was an honor, adding that he hopes the song reaches the number one spot on the charts and earns “a lot of money.” According to Geldof, One Direction sings the first line of the song in a whisper. He described their performance as “beautiful” and “moving.”
This is the fourth version of the song to be recorded and released. In addition to the 1984 original, Band Aid II in 1989 and Band Aid 20 in 2004 raised money for famine relief. For Band Aid 2014, some lyrics in the song were rewritten in order to be relevant to the Ebola outbreak, and highlight the risk of comforting victims due to fears of cross-infection. Event organizers will work to finish the recording and mixing of the song so that it can be debuted on The X Factor on Sunday night.
In true Bono fashion, U2’s frontman called out countries who do not fulfill their promises to send aid to the area. Bono, who sang on the original Do They Know It’s Christmas?, said that he would like to make events such as Band Aid part of the past.
After the recording was complete, Sande revealed that Geldof had given an empassioned speech to the assembled artists to remind them of the purpose of the session. She added that only about five takes were made before the chorus of the song was recorded. Sam Smith also sings on the record, and admitted that he was nervous about his voice and how it would blend in with the other artists. He came to realize that the main purpose of the song was to help Ebola victims and became “very excited” to play a part. Other artists appearing on the Band Aid single are Chris Martin of Coldplay, Jessie Ware, Sinead O’Connor, Seal, Elbow, Emeli Sande and Clean Bandit.
One artist who will be notably absent from the new Band Aid single is Adele. Geldof said that he had tried multiple times to reach her regarding the song, but the British singer never returned his calls. Geldof said that even Adele’s manager could not contact her, quoting him as saying, “I try, but she won’t pick up the phone.”
By Jennifer Pfalz