I’m not usually a big fan of charity songs. They’re generally lame, have a feeling of being written by a songwriter who writes for musical groups, and also feel like a vehicle for artists to showcase their charity efforts. It is rare that they are any good, and rare that I have any memory of them. Do They Know It’s Christmas is rare because I do remember it, but it isn’t any good. I will confess that I probably knew most of the musicians who performed on the song, but I don’t remember most of them now. Watching them, they all look like a bunch of plastic faces.
There is of course only one line that anyone remembers from the song, and it is Bono’s. “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” I take this line two ways, and it takes a little messing with the tense to think of it like that. The first way is to say “thank God it’s them,” which implies that you’re wishing punishment on someone. This version requires the thought that God is going to punish someone, so you’re glad you weren’t the one chosen. The second version is the whole line, “thank God it’s them instead of you,” which is to say that you could very easily be in that position, and to give thanks that you’re not, even though you recognize that someone else is. These are somewhat splitting hairs, it may be difficult to follow the reasoning here, but that’s just the way I am.
I made a comment above that these songs are written by a songwriter who writes for musical groups. What did I mean by that? Well, I actually heard this line a couple of weeks ago, and it resonated pretty well with me. You see, there’s a big difference between a band and a group. A band, like U2, is one that writes their own music, writes their own lyrics, does everything themselves. I like bands. A group is one that walks into a studio, has a backing track laid down, and sings the words that someone has written for them. You know the kinds I mean, they are the Backstreet Boys or One Direction or any number of horrible boy bands that every so often my eleven year old sings a line from. Their music is worthless, built to make a quick buck, the group is worthless, put together to fill a specific list of characteristics, and you rarely if ever hear from them again. Can’t stand them. And of course this song wasn’t written by such a songwriter, it was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, but their claim that they had very little time to write it is possibly a reasonable excuse for it being such a clunker.
News came through today that the video game Rock Band is adding eight U2 songs to their downloadable content (probably already out by the time you read this). I’ve never played the game, but I’ve heard about it plenty. I play a different game, Rocksmith, which is more of a guitar playing kind of game (I use a real guitar). But, I might have to break down and get a new system just to play this game and these songs. Crazy, right?