“Do They Know It’s Christmas”: A Cronology
0:16 – The opening lyrics, written explicitly for The Thin White
Lines Of Choice Blow Duke, are instead sang by Paul Young. “Who”, everyone not from the United Kingdom and Steven Michael Van Ore are asking, “is Paul Young?” His big US hit was “Every Time You Go Away”, and his band had Who 2.0 bassist Pino Palladino in it. That’s all you get.
[All cocaine jokes aside, there was a ton of fucking cocaine during the recording sessions. 1984, folks!]
0:31 – Young sings, “We let in light, and we banish shade.” Did you know that “shade” is a term used in some, ahem, communities to describe insulting someone? Because guess who’s about to throw some shade?
0:32 – Boy George, who wasn’t even there in the beginning; he was drunk and coked in New York. Culture Club were there, but Geldof wanted the Big Wig, who did finally show up to sing.
0:32 thru 0:45 – It’s important to know that Boy George moved his feet and shoulders in the oh-so-white way that Barbara Mandrell did during the 1976 Johnny Cash Christmas Special. Coincidence?
0:46 – OH SHIT PHIL COLLINS. He played drums along with a Tears For Fears sample; Adam Clayton of U2 played bass
Collins had started his transition at this point, from the turgid prog throb of Genesis to the pooched-out vaginal estrus of No Jacket Required. Ok, full disclosure: I do love his duet with Phillip Bailey, “Easy Lover.” But that song was on Bailey’s album. Phil Collins’ solo hit in 1984 was “Against All Odds”. Barf-o. The argyle sweater vest should be a clue.
Oops! I forgot that I promised you “shade”. Boy George said of the next singer,”God, he sounded camp… but then, he is.” Who could it be?
0:48 thru 1:00 – George Michael, looking tasteful in black-and-white Buffalo plaid and a Meg Ryan hairdoo dying for a hot oil treatment. Camp? I don’t know about that. It’s Gregorian Chant compared to his subsequent Live Aid performance, with a Day-Glo orange short-sleeved Oxford unbuttoned all the way down to the button fly of his jeans; the look on Andrew Ridgeley’s face every time Bob Geldof says the word “cock” during the Live Aid intro is priceless in it’s gayness.
1:00 thru 1:10 – Simon Lebon, I choose you(to look like you wore off your last toot of White Girl ten minutes ago and are slumpy drunk off of merlot)!
1:10 thru 1:14 – Geldof uses Sting… it’s super effective(at looking confused and drug addled, like you pushed a Japan fan with Asperger’s Syndrome into the duet with Lebon)!
1:14 thru 1:17 – I’m not sure who this is, but the blouse he is wearing? That is camp. Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker could riff on those four seconds of video for hours.
1:17 thru 1:22 – “The bitter sting of tears”. Sang by Sting. Get it? Sting makes people cry!
1:22 thru 1:29 – If you notice, Simon Lebon, now in a trio with Sting and Bono, feels so ridiculous about the lyrics, “And the christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom,” that he pretends to be too drunk to sing.
1:30 thru 1:37 – Bono steps up to the microphone and boldly teaches lesbians how to style their hair for the next twenty years.
1:37 thru 1:39 – cuz tonight, Tonight, TONIGHT, Ohh Ooooohhhhhh…
1:40 thru 1:41 – A bloke is singing that I can’t identify, other than “Guy That Looks Like Tim Roth, If Tim Roth Suffered From Marfan Syndrome”.
1:41 thru 1:42 – Another second of my life ruined by Sting’s solo career.
1:43 thru 1:47 – Boy George gets featured while Culture Club look on, seething about sitting by the mixing board when THAT QUEEN DIDN’T EVEN SHOW UP TO BEGIN WITH.
1:47 thru 1:53 – quick flashes of people I can’t recognize, including Lady With A Squirt Can
1:54 As if by a queer magic, Boy George appears one second after the word “squirt” is flashed across the screen.
1:55 thru 2:11 – Who are the band people? I know Adam Clayton, but some acoustic guitar guy showed up, too. This was recorded in Trevor Horn’s studio, so I’m sure it wasn’t Jon Anderson playing guitar…
2:12 – Photographic evidence that Phil Collins’ nuts were removed during Genesis’ recording of their eponymous album.
2:28 thru 2:33 – The order of appearance of guests: White Women(Bananarama), Black Men(Kool and The Gang?), Black Woman(Jodi Watley), Unidentified White Woman.
2:35 – Two babies, inexplicably brought onto the set, high-five each other, openly celebrating their survival of their mother’s prenatal drug abuse.
3:11 – To show that London was still one of the most diverse cities in the world in 1984, the cameras focus on the brilliant sheen of activator in the hair of Robert Bell and Dennis Thomas. Please note: Kool and The Gang were not British. Did they have to import people with actual African roots? Was Emergency the blackest thing playing over London airwaves in 1984? Perplexing.
3:30 – The Unidentified White Woman is actually a dude. A dude named Marilyn, who wasn’t even invited but showed up anyway. Some twenty-five years later, Marilyn would achieve success under the name Ke$ha.
This single made 1) millions of dollars for African relief, 2)the Live Aid concert possible, and 3) Geldof miserable–he now feels like this song and “We Are The World”, recorded a year later, are twin albatrosses wrapped around his neck. Typical depression after a coke and booze binge, also known as “The Eighties”.