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Battle of the Charity Anthems!

The Glutton on why ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is so much better than ”We Are the World.” Plus: your mail on J. Love

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Bono, Sting

I went to a Christmas karaoke party last week. Our neighbors have one every year, and every year I manage to get out of singing. Usually I am nursing some sort of gnarly viral infection so I have a good excuse, but this time my wife was not letting me off the hook: She insisted that I rock the mic.

Now, I enjoy karaoke enough, but there is a very limited pool of songs that I will actually get up and perform. This is mostly the result of one disastrous turn of ”Paradise City” that resulted in stunned silence from fellow patrons. (Seriously, not even a courtesy clap. Do you know how sad it is when you can’t even get a courtesy clap?) Actually, come to think of it, a guy in Vegas also once threatened to blow my head off with a shotgun after my version of ”Baby Got Back” devolved into me yelling ”Check me out! I’m dope!” over and over for no particular reason. But that happened in Vegas so it stays in Vegas, and I’m not sure it counts.

Anyway, I started flipping through my mental catalog of Christmas faves trying to figure out which one I would dare unleash on my unsuspecting suburban neighbors. ”The First Noel”? Not a chance — too many high notes. ”Silent Night”? Nope, I don’t think I could make it through the line ”Holy infant, so tender and mild” with a straight face. ”The Twelve Days of Christmas”? Impossible to perform without running out of breath and sounding like you’re hyperventilating. And then it hit me — Band Aid’s ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?”! Not only was the song not extremely vocally challenging, but I always had a soft spot for the thing. Maybe it’s because — as a celebrity charity single — it was so vastly superior to ”We Are the World.” Look, I’m not trying to dis and dismiss the good ol’ Stars and Stripes, but let’s examine all the ways in which the U.K.’s ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” beats USA’s ”We Are the World.”

* First off, it was the original. ”We Are the World” was a copycat, as American performers tried to jump on the charity bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong — as far as bandwagons go, raising money for starving children is a pretty good one. But still, Michael Jackson and Co. were lacking a bit in the originality department.

* ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” featured musicians who were actually somewhat current. When the Band Aid single came out, at the end of 1984, it featured young artists at the top of their game: Duran Duran, Sting, George Michael, Boy George, and U2 (although I’m still not sure why Paul Young gets to sing half the song by himself). ”We Are the World” certainly boasted big names (Michael Jackson obviously being the biggest), but it also featured many past-their-prime players: Dionne Warwick? Al Jarreau? Diana Ross? Bob Dylan? Ray Charles? Smokey Robinson? Bette Midler?!?!?!??! All huge figures in music, to be sure, but ones whose biggest impact had been in decades prior.

* Bono’s line ”Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” You know you love it. Is there any line in ”We Are the World” that carries even half the emotion of it? Honestly, I can’t even understand what the hell Bob Dylan is saying.

* Dan Aykroyd sings on ”We Are the World.”

* What it really boils down to in the end, however, is that ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is just a much better song. The harmony is catchy and it hits only about a 6 on the sap-o-meter, while ”We Are the World’ goes all the way to 10.

Oh, by the way, in case you’re wondering, I kinda flubbed the karaoke performance. I got lost at one point, and then when I realized the rest of the song basically consisted of repeating the phrase ”feed the world” over and over, I just gave up, put the microphone down, and walked away. I considered it an act of mercy — to both myself and those who had to endure it.

NEXT PAGE: Obsession of the Week, The Five video, and your mail!

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
It’s hard to make shelf space for new films when you keep buying multiple DVD versions of the same movie over and over again. I’ve lost track of how many Evil Dead DVDs I’ve bought over the years (did I really need that one with the fake Necronomicon cover?), but you can add another to the list — The Evil Dead: Ultimate Edition. Those bastards over at Anchor Bay have realized that if they simply throw one new bonus feature on every time, idiots like me will keep shelling out coin for it. The good news with the Ultimate Edition is that instead of one new extra, they actually threw on a whole bunch (four hours’ worth!), including your hero and mine, Bruce Campbell, hanging out with the women from the film, and a bunch of newly unearthed footage. Truthfully, Evil Dead is not an incredible movie. Evil Dead 2 boasts that honor. But at least there’s enough new stuff in this package so that you’ll only curse yourself out a few times for buying it. And you will buy it.

THE FIVE
The Five DVDs I Am Going to Try to Finally Get Around to Watching Over the Holidays. (See the video here!)

READER MAIL
After I delivered the skinny (sorry, bad pun) on Jennifer Love Hewitt’s battle with the paparazzi, you all responded with some really thoughtful responses. A few are below, along with letters on Life and the word I hate more than any others….

Right on, Dalton! I couldn’t agree with you more about Hewitt and the unfair standards about weight. The bigger problem, in my opinion, is that there are still people buying the magazines that show that garbage. Magazines and shows that promote unhealthy body image need to be stopped, and the only way to do that is for the consumer to not buy what they are selling. —Stephen Raulli

You’re preaching to the choir here, Stephen. The oddest thing is how unembarrassed people are to be reading these trashy tabloids. It used to be a guilty pleasure, I guess. But people don’t seem to feel even remotely guilty about it anymore.

Look, I agree that what the media have done to J. Love is completely out of line. Not only is her body great as is, but no one has the right to scrutinize and criticize a woman’s body simply because she is famous. That being said, I have to point out that Hewitt’s defense that ”A size 2 is not fat!” is beyond absurd, only because I have seen the photos, Dalton, and I’m telling you that there is NO WAY that woman is a size 2. Claiming to be such a small size when she is clearly not does no more good for women’s body images than sexist, snarky comments posted on celebrity blog sites. While I commend Hewitt for defending her body in the name of curvy women everywhere, she needs to get a grip on reality and acknowledge the fact that she is no longer the skinny little waif she used to be. Only then can she say ”put it on and stay strong” and not sound like a total hypocrite. —Lucinda Wintergreen

I received a lot of letters calling Hewitt’s ”size 2” comment into question. I’m a dude. I have no idea what size means what, so it’s hard for me to venture a guess either way on that front. So Lucinda, I’ll just let your letter and all the others like it stand for themselves.

Back in the day, when Jennifer Love Hewitt’s body was ”a wonderland,” she readily displayed it in every last one of her (bad) music videos, (bad) movies, and (bad) Hanes commercials. Hewitt made a fortune perpetrating the myth of perfection, which she now rejects as ”unrealistic” because she does not have it anymore. She is a fraud, and the fact that everyone is rallying around her like she is Rosa Parks is positively ludicrous. —Carla Torba

Excellent point, Carla. It’s true that celebrities want to have their picture taken and be on the covers of magazines only when it’s convenient for them and serves their purposes. When they can’t control the images and flow of information, they wig out. So, yes, it is hypocritical of Hewitt to scream bloody murder about people remarking negatively about her looks after she invited people to ogle over her while appearing half naked all over magazines like Maxim. Still, it is gross of websites and magazines to take such delight in uncovering a person’s every physical imperfection.

I just wanted to agree with your assessment of Life in the latest Take 5. I too agree that it is a great show (perhaps the best new show this season) but given its premise and its competition, it’s definitely hard to believe that it’s still on the air. Nevertheless, NBC gave it a full-season order, which makes me happy because, if they do just plan to ax it at the end of the season, the creators will have plenty of room to resolve the intriguing mystery of who sent Crews to jail. BTW, I wish Life would get more love on this website. Not even a Mini-TV Watch. Shocking! If you’re reading this, and you’re not watching Life, I highly recommend checking it out. GO! —Sean McTear

While Life doesn’t do huge ratings numbers, it definitely has a passionate fan base behind it. That may be enough to bring it back for another season…if the writers ever get back to work, that is.

Hey Dalton, I too am horrified by the word moist. I also hate the words panties and diarrhea. I especially hate all three words together in a sentence. —Cindy Lee

Cindy, I saved this as the final letter so that any lasting disgust readers had for me over dissing a U.S. charity anthem would be replaced by your magic three words. Thanks for getting me off the hook!

Which charity anthem do you prefer: ”Do They Know It’s Christmas?” or ”We Are the World”? What DVDs have been collecting dust in your home, waiting to be viewed? And what words give you the heebie-jeebies? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. I’m off for the holidays. Enjoy your last glorious moments of 2007, and I’ll see you in January. Well, not ”see” you, per se…unless you’re a stalker or something. In which case, stalk away!