Many Christmas playlists have featured the same Christmas songs for years, such as Last Christmas by Wham! and – perhaps the most famous – All I want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. One of those old Christmas songs has long been the subject of criticism for its inappropriate lyrics. It concerns Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band-Aid, a track that was recorded in 1984 by a number of popular British pop stars to raise money to fight an acute famine in Ethiopia.
Despite the fact that the song was once written for a good cause, the track has been criticized for the lyrics for years. Why that is so, writer Indrajit Samarajiva explained well in a blog in 2019. “This group of white men singing silly, racist nonsense about Africa must stop,” he pleads. For example, it is sung that it never snows in Africa, nothing grows and no water flows (except tears). In addition, according to Band-Aid, the greatest gift that people in Africa will receive is ‘life itself’ and the pop group wonders whether they in Africa know that it is Christmas.
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (Oooh)
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
'Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you'… Never really appreciated what a nasty,selfish and 'unchristian' lyric lies within 'Do They Know It's Xmas'🤔🙄 #Christmas pic.twitter.com/6R9Md01Tir
— KG Miles 😎 (@barberville) December 14, 2022
Do They Know Its Christmas is a racist song. Don't listen to it
'the greatest gift they'll get this year is life'
'Tonight thank God its them, not you'
It's 3 minutes telling you that every person in Africa is a poor, black farmer that need white people's donations to survive
— FPL Toast (blue tick) (@ToastFpl) November 26, 2022
"Well, tonight thank god it's them, instead of you" is an INSANE lyric.
— Adrianne Webster (@adrnwbstr) December 12, 2022
‘Well tonight thank god it’s them, instead of you’ pretty fucked up thing to say bro
— spochadóir (@spochadoir) December 10, 2022
I can't believe there was a song released that had the lyrics "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time. The greatest gift they'll get this year is life… Do they know it's Christmas time at all?" and everyone ate it up like it wasn't deeply fucking racist
— Thomas #FreePalestine 🇵🇸 (@th00m4s) December 9, 2022
Just realized that “Do they know it’s Christmas” by Band aid is so racist? Like how did you start singing about Christmas then started throwing digs at Africa? Talkin bout there’s no snow in Africa and the greatest gift they’ll get this year is life?!? What?
— Spectacularly Dim (@RoonianHarlot) November 22, 2022
@skyradio101fm @NPORadio2 wordt het niet eens tijd om het nummer 'Do they know it's Christmas Time' uit 1984 uit jullie playlist te halen? Die kan echt niet meer. #kleinerendetekst #beeldvorming
— Marko (@MarkoFaas) December 16, 2019
“This song is about the famine in Ethiopia, but generalizes it to all of Africa,” writes Indrajit. “This is so wrong. It does snow in Africa, even if not much. Food grows on the continent and there is water. And North Africa, which was once part of the Roman Empire, has celebrated Christmas for centuries before England did.”
While you may think you shouldn’t take the text so literally, Indrajit says it’s harmful. “What does this metaphor mean? That Africa is a desolate, dark place that white men need to save?”
Also on Twitter this year it is going wild again about Do They Know It’s Christmas. One sentence from the track in particular has been the subject of criticism. It is about Bono’s line from U2: “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you”, with which he seems to imply that fortunately, it is ‘the people from Africa’ who have to celebrate Christmas under appalling circumstances and not ‘us’ .
In 2014, a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas was released by Band Aid 30. Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Ellie Golding, among others, covered the Christmas song but used different lyrics. Proceeds went to fighting Ebola and helping victims of the disease.
Do They Know It’s Christmas is not the only popular Christmas song that has caused a stir in recent years? The song Baby It’s Cold Outside, written by Frank Loesser in 1944, was also discredited because of the inappropriate lyrics. In the duet sung by a man, the man continuously tries to persuade the woman to spend the night with him, despite her saying ‘no’ several times. Several radio stations have decided to stop playing the song.
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