Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.


North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative (NAHPI) – “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?”

by Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse)

In 1984, Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox gathered an all-star lineup of British and Irish musical talents (including a 24-year-old Bono, Phil Collins, and Boy George, among others) to record a little tune by name of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to benefit those affected by the famine in Ethiopia.

Like many charity singles, it kind of sucks.# The melody is cloying and the lyrics promote a weirdly ethnocentric vantage point; to wit: “And the Christmas bells that ring there / are the clanging chimes of doom / well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you / and there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime.” The song went platinum and rustled up a commendable amount of money for famine relief, but even so, it remains pretty terrible.

In 2005, a ragtag supergroup of indie-rock icons banded together under the North American Hallowe’en Prevention Initiative banner to record a single of their own. In doing so, they disrupted the long tradition of both charity singles and Halloween novelty songs sucking. The fruits of their labor, a charmingly spooky ditty called “Do They Know It’s Halowe’en?” pokes fun at the inflated sense of self-righteousness that many charity singles affect while also drumming up some much-needed donations to UNICEF.

The guest list at this Halloween bash is head-spinning, too: everyone from Win and Régine Chassagne to Buck 65 to Devendra Banhart to Feist to Beck to to Nardwuar to Thurston Moore to Karen O showed up to contribute a line or two about the scourge of frights under the full moon. David Cross makes an appearance for a little spoken interlude that’s cute without being excessively so, and then demonstrates that he’s working with a serious set of pipes all his own.

It’s the perfect antidote to the millionth-time listen you had planned for “The Monster Mash” or “Spooky Scary Skeletons”, just the thing to get your Halloween party in the spooky spirit without compromising on your impeccable taste.