Do They Know Its Christmas?

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Band Aid poster


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"Do They Know It's Christmas?" is a charity song written in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was first recorded by Band Aid, a supergroup assembled by Geldof and Ure consisting of popular British and Irish musical acts. It was recorded in a single day at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, in November 1984. "Do They Know It's Christmas" was released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1984. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number one and stayed there for five weeks, becoming Christmas number one. It sold a million copies in the first week, making it the fastest-selling single in UK chart history until Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997". UK sales passed three million on the last day of 1984. The song also reached number one in 13 other countries. In the US, it fell short of the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100 due to a lack of airplay, but sold an estimated 2.5 million copies by January 1985. It had sold 11.7 million copies worldwide by 1989 and 3.8 million copies in the UK by 2017. "Do They Know It's Christmas" raised £8 million for Ethiopia within a year, far exceeding Geldof's hopes. The success led to several other charity singles, such as "We Are the World" (1985) by USA for Africa, and spin-off charity events, such as Comic Relief and the 1985 Live Aid concert. In a UK poll in December 2012, it was voted sixth on the ITV television special The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song. Some critics however have viewed the song as condescending and offensive for its depiction of Ethiopians, who comprise one of the world's oldest Christian communities, as well as for its description of Africa as barren. The song's co-writer Ure wrote "it was all about generating money. The song didn't matter: the song was secondary, almost irrelevant." "Do They Know It's Christmas?" was rerecorded and rereleased in 1989, 2004 and 2014. The 1989 and 2004 versions also raised funds for famine relief, while the 2014 version raised funds for the Ebola crisis in West Africa. All three reached number one in the UK, and the 1989 and 2004 versions became Christmas number ones. The 2004 version sold 1.8 million copies. Geldof has said a new supercut version of previous recordings of the song is being compiled to mark the 40th anniversary.