In 1984, Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” sold 3.7 million copies in the UK, at the time making it the biggest selling single in the UK Singles Chart history. The song, written to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, also became a Christmas No. 1 that year, and stayed in that slot for five weeks straight.
Thirty years later, the famous single has been re-recorded to help in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. It’s again expected to be a holiday No. 1, raising millions for those affected by the deadly virus.
A video of the cover song premiered on Britain’s X Factor on Sunday night and the single was released Monday morning. Chancellor George Osborne said the single will be exempt from VAT tax so that all the money goes to charity, Sky News reports.
The original version was co-written by Bob Gelfof and Midge Ure, who formed Band Aid, a charity song group featuring other mostly British and Irish musicians, including Sting, Paul Young, and singers from groups like Duran Duran and U2. That version raised £8 million for famine relief.
For the new song, you’ll hear newcomers like Ellie Goulding, One Direction, Rita Ora, and Clean Bandit.
Some of the lyrics have been tweaked from the 1984 version to bring awareness to the Ebola crisis. For example, Bono’s famous line, “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you,” is now “Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you,” again sung by the U2 frontman.
Here are the lyrics from the new song:
It’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and banish shade
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time
But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
At Christmas time, it’s hard but while you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear
Where a kiss of love can kill you, and there’s death in every tear
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you
No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa
The only hope they will have is being alive
Where to comfort is to fear
Where to touch is to be scared
How can they know it’s Christmas time at all
Here’s to you
Raise a glass to everyone
And here’s to them
And all their years to come
Let them know it’s Christmas time after all
Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feel the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again
Heal the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again
And here’s the original, recorded in 1984.
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