16 December 2009

Raging against the machine

It can't have escaped anyones attention, that apparently next week it will be Christmas, and in becoming of a festive tradition, the race for the 'Christmas Number 2' is on.

The race for the Number 1 spot has become such a formality that no bookie will offer anything but the very shortest odds on the X Factor winner being the winner, so the also rans chase for the number 2 spot.

But could this year be different? A campaign on that started on Facebook, and has spread through Twitter and Reddit has been suggesting that all right minded music fans buy a copy of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of" this week, in an attempt to bump the evil Simon Cowell off his throne.

On the surface, it seems like a bloody good idea. How dare some smug sanctimonious cock ruin Christmas by touting vacuous empty tunes at the vacuous empty headed masses just because the know that just like sheep, they'll flock out and buy them?

After all, isn't that supposed to be Cliff Richards job?

For years the charts have been 'fixed', and even more so at Christmas my music execs, canny advertising, and heavy radio play that drives songs to be Top of the Pops - but does it matter?

What we didn't used to see was all the manipulation that it takes to do that, but now everything is on display - especially in those trousers Cowell.

Does it really affect anyone in a negative way if some shite gets to number one for Christmas? And who am I to say it is shite? If it gives some 9 year old pleasure to receive 3 minutes of mind spunk, who am I to tell them that really they should be investigating The Falls back catalogue, or maybe trying some of Thom Yorkes solo stuff?

If it gets them into listening to music, surely that's a good thing, and will give them some embarrassing 'first record' stories to tell their muso friends when older - and if not - where's the harm? I've got a friend who only owns 7 cd's. I don't understand how this can be possible, but I think no less of him for it.

I don't own a single golf club, but apparently it is just as pleasurable a pastime as listening to music - as is being number one. It just has no bearing on me.

I suppose the difference with music and golf is, golf can't be manipulated - but what about books?

For years any book mentioned on Richard and Judy, or Oprah has been pretty much guaranteed to be a best seller, but do you get militant readers up and down the country insisting we all buy Ricky Gervais' "Flanimals" just to keep Delia Smiths perennial Christmas cook book down?


The Christmas number 1 single, is yesterdays news. A festive popularity contest and nothing more. In years gone by with just the Top of the Pops Christmas special and a handful of radio stations it mattered more to the consumer, because that was all you would hear for days. Now we have 14 billion radio and tv stations, so if you don't like what's being played on one, you can probably find something you do like on another. Or just make your own festive playlist on itunes, spotify, or a good old fashioned mixtape.

So if you want to spoil Simons fun, go buy a copy of Killing in the Name Of. Despite my ramblings above, I have done. Not necessarily fro the X factor thing, but because it made me realise that I didn't own a copy, and it is a truly great song. And I'm just curious is any radio station will play it (heavily bleeped) if it does succeed. So on those counts buy it.

If you really don't want to, that's fine - as RATM's front man Zack de la Rocha will testify many, many times...

"Fuck you I won't do what you tell me"

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