Yesterday (November 15), One Direction, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, and Coldplay all got together in a London studio to record a holiday song called "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The song was written by 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure when they co-founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for the impoverished in Ethopia.
The song and video premiered on tonight's episode of "The X Factor" and you can listen below.
It's the fourth time the song has been recorded by some of the biggest acts in the UK, and this version will be released onMonday, November 17. This year all the proceeds will go to helping contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
Band Aid has been around for 30 years, and the history of recording this song for charity is a fascinating one. Here's everything you need to know about the history of this best-selling single.
The first Band Aid single was recorded in 1984 to help alleviate famine in Ethiopia.
Bob Geldof, then the lead singer of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats, wanted to do something about the horrible famine that afflicted Ethiopia in the mid-80s. He'd been performing in charity events since 1981, and he figured he could use his musical talent to bring about real world change. Together with Midge Ure of the new wave band Ultravox, he penned "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in 1984
Geldof and Ure enlisted some of the biggest stars in the UK to record the charity single. Everyone from former Beatle Paul McCartney to U2's frontman Bono to glam rock superstar David Bowie signed on. The celebrity influence did the trick; the song shot straight to the top of the charts as soon as it was released, and stayed at number 1 for five weeks. It's still one of the best-selling UK singles of all time.
Band Aid did it all again five years later.
The supergroup didn't want to lose momentum on the money they'd raised, so in 1989 they went back into the studio to record the song again. The second iteration of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" featured a whole new roster of artists, including Kylie Minogue and Bananarama. It didn't sell quite as well as the first Band Aid hit, but it did stay at number 1 for three weeks after its release in December, becoming the 9th best-selling single of the year.
The 20th anniversary edition of "Do They Know It's Christmas" included Snow Patrol and Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Twenty years after the original single rose to the top of the charts, Band Aid got back in the studio to raise funds for humanitarian aid in Darfur, where the Sudanese government was ethnically cleansing parts of the country's population.
This time, Justin Hawkins of the Darkness, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and Natasha Bedingfield joined in for the recording session. The 2004 single featured a rap verse by Dizzee Rascal, and Bono and Paul McCartney came back for their second appearance, too. It also went straight to the top of the UK charts, selling 72,000 copies in the first 24 hours of its release.
The Band Aid 30 version of the single drops tomorrow (November 17) and features One Direction and Sam Smith.
This weekend, some of UK's biggest pop stars gathered in London to record the fourth version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at the very same studio where the original was laid to tape.
Midge Ure and Bob Geldof in 2014
The lineup's just as star-studded as ever this time around, including contributions from Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Sinead O'Connor, and Bastille. Adele was reportedly invited, but couldn't make it out to the session. And yes, Bono will be back to sing his line, though it's been changed from "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you" to the more compassionate "Tonight we're reaching out and touching you."
Bono returns to record with Band Aid
Other lyrics in the song have been updated to reflect the Ebola crisis specifically: "Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears" is now "Where a kiss of love can kill you, and there's death in every tear."
Gedolf has encouraged fans to buy the single, not just listen to it online. In accordance with the charity's goals, the Band Aid 30 song won't be on Spotify or any other streaming platform until the holiday season is over in January.