Stars join forces for Band Aid song
Stars including One Direction and Bono have joined forces to record a new Band Aid song - as it was announced the Government will waive VAT on the charity single.
Some of the biggest names in British music including Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and Rita Ora are singing on the reworked version of Do They Know It's Christmas?
The new recording marks the 30th anniversary of the song, which was originally put together to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia , and is expected to raise millions to ease Africa's Ebola crisis.
As singers arrived at the studio in London's Notting Hill to record the track, Bob Geldof revealed George Osborne called him this morning to reveal he would waive VAT on the single.
The move means 100% of the money raised by the song will go to charity.
Geldof said: "I spoke to the Chancellor about five minutes ago and he agreed to forgo the VAT on the record."
He added: "Amazing - that the Government has just said 'fine, keep the tax'.
"The record, it's a song, it's a track, but it's an event, and the next stage now is to turn this into a phenomenon like it was in the '80s, and the only way to do that is to get people to buy the thing.
"Spare me this free economy. Spare me Spotify and YouTube. There is a donate button on YouTube. Hit the donate button."
One Direction heart-throb Harry Styles woke up early to take part in the recording - his second big charity performance in a matter of hours.
The 20-year-old, who performed with his band in EastEnders' Albert Square during the Children In Need television extravaganza last night, was among the first to arrive for the session.
Despite the early hour, dozens of fans were there to greet the star, whose hits include The Wake Up Song, with at least one bursting into tears.
He was swiftly followed by his bandmate Niall Horan, who said: "To be involved and get invited by Sir Bob to do this is just insane, so it's a privilege to be here."
Asked what he hoped to achieve, he added: "Hopefully it gets to number one and it raises a lot of money for a really worthy cause."
Geldof revealed later that the band sang the opening line of the record, which they began by whispering.
He said he was "blown away" by their performance.
"It's beautiful, seriously. That is the hardest one to do because people know the song so they are worried they're going to mess it up and they didn't at all.
"It was so sad what they did. I never expected that from them.
"Harry wanted to play it back so I did and it's very moving."
Chart-topping singer Rita Ora was the first to show up at the studio, despite fears commitments to BBC1 talent show The Voice, which is filmed in Salford, would prevent her from taking part.
Sam Smith, Coldplay's Chris Martin and Emeli Sande also sang on the single, which features lyrics reworked to reflect the Ebola crisis.
Organisers hope the track will be completed in time for its first public performance during tomorrow night's edition of The X Factor.
The new lyrics appear in the second and third verses of the song and refer to the risks of cross-infection from comforting Ebola victims.
Other artists taking part include Elbow, Seal, Jessie Ware, Sinead O'Connor and Clean Bandit.
U2 frontman Bono, who sang on the original recording, took a dig at rich countries which fail to honour aid pledges.
He said: "We've been trying to make this kind of event a thing of the past - we want to make Band Aid history - for quite some time.
"If every country had the values of Great Britain and kept the promises they make at these big G8 meetings and the like we wouldn't have to be standing here."
Geldof made a moving speech to all the performers before they recorded the chorus.
Sande said: "Bob gave a really touching speech before we started singing so I think that really got everybody in the mind-frame that we needed to be in, to remind us it's fun but we're here for a really serious reason."
She added: "It was him expressing how passionate he was about this cause and how it's so unnecessary that so many people should be dying."
The 27-year-old said the contributors "sounded like a really powerful choir" and revealed it took about five takes to record the chorus.
Sam Smith admitted he was anxious about how his vocal style would fit with the recording.
"I'm actually a bit nervous because the song might be in a really bad key," he said.
"But it's not about how my voice sounds in terms of whether it's suitable for me. It's quite an easy song to sing, I should be okay."
He added: "I'm very excited to do something for the cause and that is the main thing for me.
"I really want to draw the focus in on that."
Bookmaker Coral predicted that the new single would win the race for Christmas number one, making it odds-on at 4-6.
But Damon Albarn questioned whether Band Aid was a suitable way of tackling the Ebola crisis.
He told Channel 4 news: "Our perspective and our idea of what helps and our idea of what's wrong and right are not necessarily shared by other cultures.
"There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost.
"It starts to feel like it's a process where if you give money you solve the problem, and really some times giving money creates another problem."
When he was told there was just one African born performer on the track, he replied: "That's great, just a few more would be nice and also maybe go there - all those people who are making that."