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Thursday 17 December 2009

Rage Against The XFactor.

I have just re-purchased the song "Killing In The Name Of" by the U.S band Rage Against The Machine, from iTunes. Nothing unusual in that you might think, unless you happen to live in the U.K that is.
By the way, i already have that track on the original Rage Against The Machine album & i also have an edited version.
So, why on earth would i want to buy the song for a third time?

Well, for those not in the know. There is an Internet campaign going on this week, in the U.K, to try & get "Killing In The Name Of" to Number 1 in the U.K Music Charts & thereby make in the Christmas Number 1. A very prestigious acheivement & something that is always a hard fought battle. Well, here in the U.K anyway.

Over the past few years, the Christmas Number 1 song has been performed by whoever was the winner of the XFactor TV talent show. Last year it was Alexandra Burke & her "version" of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah". The show usually finishes just before Christmas & the current series finished last Sunday. So, it is timed perfectly for the Christmas market. Surely not a coincidence?

Because of the enormous popularity of the show, the song chosen for the XFactor winner is virtually guaranteed to be the Christmas Number 1. Something a lot of people are not very happy about & i'll admit, i tend to agree with them.

There has been a huge debate in the U.K, during this series of the XFactor, about how the show is possibly changing popular music, how it is stifling the opportunities for original artists & also the amount of power that the show & others like it, wield. Both in the world of popular music & even in the world of prime time TV as well.
That is probably a topic for another blog, or even a video.

This year however somebody has said "enough is enough" & decided to try & do something about it. Hence the campaign to try & get "Killing In The Name Of" to the top of the charts.

Why that song? I don't know. But, you've only got to listen to the lyrics to understand why & even the name of the band, Rage Against The Machine, is a bit of a giveaway.

For me. at least, it is the perfect choice. It's a song of rebellion ("fuck you, i won't do what you tell me") & i'm sure it appeals to all of those who dislike the idea of a TV show, more or less, controlling the music charts & probably stifling the music business in the process.

The next question is obviously, "is it all worth it & will it make any difference?".
Well, so far, i do think it is making a difference. The song is currently Number 1 in the Midweek Charts. No guarantee of success i agree. But, a pretty good acheivement, even if it doesn't manage to hold onto that spot come Sunday when the Official Christmas Charts are announced.

The whole campaign seems to have stirred a sense of rebellion in a lot of people & stirred up a lot of debate as well. For example the Facebook group for this campaign has over 400,000 members. In my opinion, that can only be a good thing.

Yes, i do understand the irony that both Rage Against The Machine & the XFactor song are both on the Sony label. So, Sony will be a big winner out of this.
But, at least it's got people talking about & buying music, legally, again. It will also have introduced a whole new group of people to Rage Against The Machine. Who must be sitting there shaking their heads in complete bemusement at what is happening. I wonder what they make of all of this?

Ultimately, the campaign may well fail. As i'm sure there will be a counter campaign to stop "Killing In The Name Of" reaching that coveted Number 1 spot. After all, the song has some naughty swear words in it & we can't have that can we?

For me, this is also a bit of fun & a good example of people power. And just think, a few years ago this could never have happened.
The Official Charts were always made up of songs that were 'released" by record companies. These days, just about any song can count towards a chart position.
Now, a song doesn't have to be "released", it just has to have been bought on certain download sites. So, no longer can the Charts be manipulated in the way that they used to be.
"Killing In the Name Of" is a very good example of this & also an indication of where this may well lead in the future.
There may well be interesting times ahead.

In the meantime, why not do what i did, make your own protest & buy, or even re-purchase "Killing In the Name Of" by Rage Against The Machine on iTunes (in the UK).

"Fuck you, i won't do what you tell me".

Oops too late.....


  1. Great post Andy but here is my view on the topic! Here is the last 18 year's of UK Christmas No.1s:

    1990 Cliff Richard "Saviour's Day"
    1991 Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"
    1992 Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You"
    1993 Mr Blobby "Mr Blobby"
    1994 East 17 "Stay Another Day"
    1995 Michael Jackson "Earth Song"
    1996 Spice Girls "2 Become 1"
    1997 Spice Girls "Too Much"
    1998 Spice Girls "Goodbye"
    1999 Westlife "I Have A Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"
    2000 Bob The Builder "Can We Fix It?"
    2001 Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman "Somethin' Stupid"
    2002 Girls Aloud "Sound of the Underground"
    2003 Michael Andrews & Gary Jules "Mad World"
    2004 Band Aid 20 "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
    2005 Shayne Ward "That's My Goal"
    2006 Leona Lewis "A Moment Like This"
    2007 Leon Jackson "When You Believe"
    2008 Alexandra Burke "Hallelujah"

    If more "credible" recording artists like U2, Rihanna, Beyonce and Shakira really wanted to win the race then I am sure they would have the full-power backing of their labels. But as you can see by the list that traditionally they don't bother. Christmas is a time for festive and novelty records to put in children's stockings, not for records with any real substance!

    What would have been better was for the rebellion to champion Peter Kay's Children In Need record and not choose one just because it has cussing and will make Granny's ears bleed!

  2. Such a shame that this example of "people power" can't used for a more tangible cause. Did you here that more people vote on the X-Factor finale than in the last General Election?! (Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but I think it needs saying twice!)

  3. Anthony: You make a good point about "credible" artists not bothering at Xmas. I think they feel they are wasting their time, because of all of the novelty songs that you mentioned.
    Even back in the 70's we still had those novelty Xmas songs. Slade, Wizzard etc spring to mind.
    Good point about the Children In Need single too. But, at least the RATM song has raised over £60,000 for Shelter.
    I wonder what will happen next year?

  4. Knifsedge: I do think that this showing of People Power is just an example of what can be done. Maybe it might get people involved in other ways, now that they see that a difference can be made, if we all get together?