File this obnoxious little ditty under “Not Getting It, Department of.”
Leave aside the execrable pop/rock tune. Leave aside Bob Geldof’s ghastly 80s hairstyle. And leave aside the fact that this song is all about moral posturing with other people’s resources.
Leave all this aside and merely consider the ludicrous lyrics that alone make this a Christmas Spirit Fail.
- “And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy / Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime.” This is just BS on the level of “We Are the World.” It means nothing.
- “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears / And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.” Well, the Congo River has the second-heaviest flow of any river in the world. And the Nile is the world’s longest. Dammit, Africa is overflowing with natural resources. It’s not like the whole continent is some kind of wasteland. If China can extract Africa’s resources, why not Africa? Moreover, this song was written to raise support for famine relief. Amartya Sen showed, however, that famine is more of a political problem than a resource problem. “Famines are easy to prevent if there is a serious effort to do so, and a democratic government, facing elections and criticisms from opposition parties and independent newspapers, cannot help but make such an effort. Not surprisingly, while India continued to have famines under British rule right up to independence. . . . They disappeared suddenly with the establishment of a multiparty democracy and a free press.” It’s no coincidence that a mostly undemocratic continent conforms to Sen’s sad logic.
- “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime.” O RLY? (Actually, there will be.)
- “(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows / No rain nor rivers flow.” That “oooh” is some good poetry there, man. But seriously, see comment above.
- “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” No comment necessary, but seriously, that’s all there is to this song. The single may have been used to raise money for anti-hunger efforts, but the words themselves leave you in a place of smug depression at the sad state of the world, poor them.
This ghastly ballad ends with a “(Here’s to you) raise a glass for everyone / (Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun,” signifying nothing done other than sanctimonious moral preening. Merry Christmas, yeah right.
P.S. What would it take to get a supergroup of pop/rock stars to record an anti-foreign-aid single based on Dambisa Moyo’s book?