It is me? The great Christmas No. 1 battle


Is it me?  I can’t help but be baffled by the news report I’ve just seen about the shocking result of the traditional race to be number one in the Christmas chart.  I say shocking, but it isn’t really – I think it was to be expected, really.  On one side, we have the X-Factor juggernaut, with a technically brilliant singer releasing a worryingly catchy song (Joe McElderry is a great singer [his performances that I’ve seen were near-as-dammit to flawless], there really is no question, I’m just not convinced he’s a superstar), on the other side you have a Facebook-fuelled campaign to get an alternative track to the top spot.  Never underestimate the power of Facebook.

Essentially, the choice of song (Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”) made it quite clear that the campaign was more about sticking two fingers up at the way in which people like Simon Cowell dominate the music industry than it was about musical taste.  I’d be astonished if all the people who bought the song liked it.  But the whole thing strikes me as wonderfully ironic.  The thought process seems to be “I am fed up with being told what to buy by Simon Cowell, so I’m going to buy this single that someone else has told me to buy instead.”  The herd mentality is equally strong in both camps.  Perhaps it’s OK to follow the herd when a member of the herd started the movement?  Plus, it turns out, both Joe McElderry and Rage Against the Machine are apparently signed to the same record label (Epic, part of the massive Sony empire), so the same suits are getting their slice of the money regardless of which song was bought.  When I heard that, I couldn’t help but think it would have been a much more radical campaign to choose a song that wasn’t released by one of the huge labels.  So many independent labels are part of the download market now, with a presence on iTunes and amazon mp3, among others, that availability wouldn’t have been an issue at all, and this would surely be a grander blow for musical freedom? Perhaps I’m missing the point, though.  And the band are generously donating the royalties this campaign has brought them to Shelter, a most worthy charity.  Epic must be chuckling merrily all the way to the bank, though.

I have heard “Killing in the Name” and even without the liberal expletives sprinkled throughout, it’s really not my sort of music.  On the other hand, depending on the tracks chosen, I could potentially be persuaded to buy a Joe McElderry album, as his vocals are simply amazing – I would love to have his level of ability and control.  I know, a terrible thing to admit, but it’s true.  However, I played no part in this particular drama.  I downloaded the single release of the Muppets’ Bohemian Rhapsody.

  1. Joe really is a fabulous singer. I wasn’t sure about his voice when I first heard him audition, but with a bit of vocal coaching he’s gone from strength to strength.

    I agree that it would’ve been much better to have had a current ‘nobody’ win the race than a band who have already had their time in the sun. (Also, I hated KitN the first time around, and don’t feel any differently about it now!)

    • lindaharley
    • January 9th, 2010

    I was more than happy to see Cowell’s stranglehold on the charts – whatever they count for these days – broken. And like you, my favourite was the Muppets Bo-Rap. Good luck to Joe, he seems like a pleasant young man with a great voice, and I’m sure he’s got a future in the biz.

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