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Thoughts About Rage Against The Machine vs X Factor

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:42 UK time, Monday, 14 December 2009

Zac De La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine and Simon Cowell

First of all, I should throw my hat into the ring and explain that I do not mind who is Christmas No.1. The concept of a festive chart-topper being an icon of a golden age, a holy institution that needs protecting from the dead hand of commerce is not one I can ever remember happening. It has always been dominated by the biggest forces in popular music - because it's the No.1 selling single for that week, duh! - and a target for cheap cash-ins and novelty nonsense.

Just because the biggest force in popular music used to be the performers, and it's now the TV execs who make the show that finds the performer is neither here nor there, nothing has actually changed, and therefore nothing is likely to change 'back' to how it was before. It wasn't like that before, so how could it?

And the hallowed Christmas No.1 only works as an embodiment of the spirit of Christmas because Christmas itself does contain a lot of excitement about stuff which, if you look at it with a vinegary eye, is just disposable and shiny, much like pop music itself. It's a perfect fit.

Now, I don't watch X Factor. I've explained why before, and most of what bothers me about it still seems to be happening (Leona and Alexandra's success notwithstanding), so we're just going to have to agree not to get in each other's way. But the thing the show does do which will always get my support is make the best kind of song that it can, and then make it available to be bought by the public.

It strikes me that there is a nasty streak of snobbery to the Rage Against The Machine campaign, because essentially the people behind it not only don't approve of the song the X Factor has made - before they have even heard it, which is always lovely - but they don't like the people who DO like it. They think these people are easily-led. They may use words like "sheep" or "masses" or "plebs" or "chavs", and they believe themselves to be above such obvious mind-control.

Then, in order to prove that this is the case, they have decided to try and convince other people - people who are clearly not "sheep" - to all gang together and buy a song which is very old, and which they probably already own, not because they like the song - it's a good song, let's make that plain - but because this will teach everyone a lesson. And indeed it has.

What it teaches us is that the best way to discredit institutions that you do not approve of is not some idle protest, but to work harder and replace them with something better. It teaches us that we should not be wallowing in revolutionary rhetoric from the past - especially not revolutionary rhetoric which comes from the same enormous entertainment corporation as Simon Cowell - when we could be enjoying the benefits of the present.

By which I mean: Why is Mumford and Sons not in the Top 5? Hmm?

Most of all, it teaches us that you cannot fight fire with fire. If you wish to be free of manipulative pop music, you should not seek to manipulate people.

A friend of mine on Twitter recently suggested a far more worthy Christmas campaign where people agree to go out and buy (or stay in and download) any single they like, provided that a) they like it and do not already own it, and b) that's it. The idea being that if you are going to make a gesture of support, you do it for something with which you genuinely feel an affinity, rather than trying to back a winner.

And that's really what makes the chart - the everyday, run of the mill, non-Christmas chart - an exciting place to be, because it's a snapshot of public taste. People like songs and they buy songs, that's it. Anyone trying to mess with that - even in as light-hearted a way as Chartjackers did - shows a basic contempt for the chart which can come across as contempt for music, or worse, for the public at large.

In a year where more singles were sold than ANY OTHER YEAR EVER, the chart takes a more central role in our cultural life than ever before, and it is worth far more than these silly stunts would suggest. It's about celebrating what we're doing, not trying to destroy it.

So, let the X Factor winner have their moment, it won't last, nor will the show. At some point we will all move on to something else, just like we always do. Maybe Lady GaGa will save us all. But if she does, it will be because her songs make more people want to buy them than those of other singers.

That's your real golden age, right there...


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  • Comment number 1.

    OK, some of your points make sense. You definitely will find some snobbery amongst many of the people backing Rage over the X-Factor, no doubt. And the song which the group is rallying behind is one which will likely in some way put money into the pocket of Simon Cowell because it's Sony BMG, which looks a bit silly.

    However, really the group/campaign is a protest against X-Factor (and similar) dominance of the Christmas number one, and an effort to break the chain of winner after winner being there, every monotonous year. So it really matters little that Rage are a Sony act. It's more because the song sounds and feels defiant (yes, we all know that it's actually about much more serious subject matter than Christmas number ones).

    Now, disapproving of the song before they've heard it. Come on. The template is so utterly, predictably obvious that even Peter Kay - not known for his sharp satirical streak - did a parody of it. Plodding Westlife-style ballad, key change and choir en route to "rousing" finale. Ugh.

    Which brings me to contempt. I can see how this campaign can come across as contempt for the public, and the large numbers that like the X-Factor. However, it's a bit of a leap to equate that to contempt for the chart. I imagine there are plenty of people who care about the chart who dislike the X-Factor cheese and would be happy to keep it from number one. Hell, the chart matters enough to these people for them to care who is or isn't number one. And to see contempt for MUSIC in all this? Er, where? There's contempt for what Simon Cowell does, sure, but how does that translate into contempt for music as a whole? I think many of these people are very passionate about music - just not what X-Factor produces.

    And to say that the organisers of the Facebook group/campaign are manipulative, and thus hypocritical for actually having their campaign is daft. Organised protest has to involve people acting together in some way. It has to be unified and coordinated to be heard. It doesn't automatically make the leaders the same as who/what they're protesting against.

    And finally - and this is often being lost in all this - it's actually not supposed to be serious. No-one's gonna cry if Rage don't make it to the top. But if they do, it's a nice adolescent middle finger to the Man (Cowell) for one week at least.

  • Comment number 2.

    agree with you there curtain.. especially in saying that protest must be organized, a lot of people think they are being very clever in pointing out the supposed irony in people being told what to do but by someone different.. but were it not for this, protests could never be organized.

    i am thinking of it as a fun experiment.. to see the power that people have over the execs at the top..

    also, the more people who know about rage against the machine, the better. They are a great band with a lot of good songs and this campaign will win them new fans.

  • Comment number 3.

    You both actually make really valid points.

    The Rage thing feels like an angry scientist messing with the natural order of things , ( a bit like what Simon has done for many years ), but we must remember that just as there are a lot of Joe McElderry fans who will love his Miley Cyrus number , and his fated trip to woo Tinsel Toon , there are a lot of people who literally hate what X Factor stands for , and want to derail this successful express train .

    The Morrissey song title "We hate it when our friends become successful ", immediately springs to mind...

    It's all very anti-establishment , and reminds me of the seventies when punk rock stuck two fingers up at the powers that be , and Malcolm MaClaren engineered The Sex Pistols into being one of the most important and influential bands that England have produced .

    The difference here is that Killing in the name of , is an old song . that has already graced the charts.
    Next year , let's have a new act with a new song , that will contest X Factor for the number 1 slot..

    The key thing in all of this though , is that the PUBLIC will decide !

    Will Joe take the climb to the top , or will he be killed by a campaign that is like a well -oiled machine , and clearly raging...

  • Comment number 4.

    Check out "THE X FACTOR SONG (2009)" a great song

    @ youtube.com/thisisjohnnyblack

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm in two minds about this whole thing.

    I am a massive X Factor fan. I think Joe is a fantastic singer and will hopefully get a good albums worth of music thrown his way. His voice is great and he's a nice lad. I don't particularly want him to suffer out of all of this. I doubt he will, either way he's got a glittering future. So for Simon Cowel to say that artists will suffer is probably wrong. Everybody that’s going to buy Joe's single will, everybody that’s going to buy RATM will too.

    Last year 576,000 copies of the awfulness (by Alexandra Burke's own admission!) that was Hallelujah were sold in the first week. The RATM group currently has over 750,000 members. Hallelujah was a massive selling record, one of the quickest selling singles every blah blah. The RATM group will still beat that, if they all buy it. I'm sure most of them will. Enough people will buy two copies (any more doesn’t count apparently).

    Will the fans of X Factor rally around Joe's song?

    I’m not sure they will in numbers. Probably because its bleeping awful. Vomit. Key change. Choir. The lot. I'm bored of it, aren't the public?

    If a decent song/version of a song had been produced, I may have decided to buy it. Mainly because I actually don’t believe in the song choice of the X Factor haters. It's meant to be an anti-regime/society anarchy whatever (I'm not good with all that sort of lingo, so sorry if that's not correct or the EXACT meaning of the song). So why do I see a regime (perhaps an exaggeration) of people on Facebook and all over the press telling me to buy the song?!? "**** you I won't do what you tell me" says Zack de la Rocha, yet that's what everybody is doing!

    Disclaimer - I am a massive fan of the song, after seeing a bit (yes bad person should have seen it all) of them at Reading festival a few years ago. I've had it for ages.

    Last year I bought Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah (despite owning it AND preferring Rufus Wainwright's), because I believed in that campaign. I would buy RATM if I believed in that campaign.

    I would also buy the X Factor single this year if it was any good. Despite him being a fantastic talent. It's not. Nobody is getting my money this year!

    (Mumford & Sons, not as good as Fleet Foxes. Listen to 'White Winter Hymnal')

  • Comment number 6.

    liam you have had a mare. mumford are far better than fleet foxes. white winter hymnal was a single so anyone who knows FF would know that track. almost any track on mumford's new album beats it. you not heard 'the cave'??

  • Comment number 7.

    Whilst I agree with some of what Chris is saying, but I really don't think there is a difference between the marketing machine that is X-factor promoting their offering, or the online campaign for RATM. They are both promoting a particular single for Christmas and one of them will undoubtably prevent are far more worthy single getting the coveted Xmas No 1.
    I'm not a fan of either so won't buy either, [but would have if it had been the new Mumford & Sons single (despite owning the album), saw them at their Standon Hoedown to launch their album and they are a great new talent.]
    It's just a sad fact of Christmas that we usually get a dodgy single at no1. I'll stick to my LPs and the occasional single when I like it.

  • Comment number 8.

    How about next year having an actual christams song?? the pouges fairytale in new york has been voted the best christams song ever for 4 years now. If everyone is trying to get back to the tradition of the christmas number one meaning something then why not have an actual christmas song. I would love the xfactor to move away from the christmas chart. maybe summer would be good, most of us are out at bbq's so wouldnt have to watch it. The other option would be to start a new tv show where actual bands perform. not unlike c4's unsigned act. but give it a prime slot and then people who prefer bands as opposed to singers can have something to enjoy. I am bored of tv phone in shows, we are need of a new format.
    poor joe, simon obviously doesn't hold his career in good stead to give him a Hannah Montana song!

  • Comment number 9.

    According to reports in the media , Teressa , Simon's idea is for Joe to be the new Zac Efron , as Zac is now 22 , and as shown , by the new Orson Welles movie , is moving into more adult roles .
    Our Joe is 18 , has a cute accent , a fantastic voice , and a wholesome personality that a lot of people will like .I thought he conducted himself with grace and impeccable manners throughout . Everyone who worked with Joe in the making of the show ,all glowed about what a thoroughly nice chap he is .
    Simon is in talks regarding a film career for Joe , so to start him off with this song , makes a lot of sense, if this is the overall aim and marketing plan .
    Personally , I liked Joe's version of Journey's Don't Stop Believin , but hey , you can't argue with the main man...
    Whatever happens... good luck Joe.

  • Comment number 10.

    Liam , Flatknees , let's settle your Mumford/ Fleet Foxes debate...

    Stop blinking comparing , BOTH albums are brilliant !

    White Winter Hymnal - Magical

    Winter Winds - Superb

    There !

  • Comment number 11.

    The thing is, Liam, I'm not sure that you're representative of most of the people who buy the X-Factor single. It's hard to know for verifiable fact unless you did a survey of all them, but I don't think the song itself matters very much at all to X-Factor buyers. I think they get involved with the show, develop a personal attachment to the personalities and the stories of the contestants, and then buy whatever single is released as a show of support to them (or the show). As long as the song isn't offensive to them, they're going to buy it.

    You might argue that some hardcore fans of any act would do the same, but personally that's less of a problem for me where the act has come to prominence mostly because of their songs (and that goes for pop acts just as much as "serious" artists). In the X-Factor, that's just not the case. And that's why they get away with peddling the same cookie-cutter pap every year, and why many other people get sick of it and want to try to stop it dominating.

    As for what you said about a regime, protest is futile unless it's organised. And anyway, I don't think this is to emancipate X-Factor buyers from Cowell's "regime", it's to try to mobilise more people who are against it.

    Hey - if nothing else, at least it creates a bit of suspense for the Christmas number one this year. That's at least a bit of fun.

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh, and Mumford for me I think.

  • Comment number 13.

    fair play white winter hymnal is a beautiful song, as is mykonos... but mumfords album is better..

  • Comment number 14.

    The issue of Rage Against The Machine being on Sony BMG is irrelevant, it's about not having a Simon Cowell sponsored act as a shoe-in for Christmas number 1 every year.

    I'll admit, I hate X-factor and everything it stands for - basically people singing songs that have already been written, not quite as well as the original.

    However, I have nothing against this Joe guy personally, but his song is beyond belief abysmal. I must admit, I've only heard it once, but it's not the sort of thing I'm going to try listening to again.

    The absurdity of it is quite laughable. Covering a song by that powerhouse of pop music Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus or whatever name she uses. Cowell must surely just be experimenting to see how bad a song he can make get to number 1.

    I think the RATM campaign just demonstrates people's relative power of getting their point across. Of course, Sony will be rubbing their hands with glee, but I for one happily paid the 99p on iTunes just for the thought of having a few people spitting out their Sunday roast in disgust when 'Killing in the Name' is blasting out on Radio 1, because even if it doesn't make number 1, it's still going to make the top 10.

    That's unless the 'impartial' BBC decide to go all God Save The Queen about it again.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hold on a min, this artical talks about these lovely songs produced by the xfactor factory and delivered to our festive minds. Yes they are lovely, yes those that win xfactor are talented, yes these people do deserve a bit of stardom. But the reaction against xfactor is far deeper than a nice song at xmas. If you didnt realise before this is all about Simon C and the wake up call most people have now had. Let me ask this. If on Strictly Come dancing, all the money from the phone voting went into Mr F's pocket there would be such outcry you would prob find the program would be banned from your screens. the thought of a compare taking us for a ride on the good old beeb would be so unreal. Yet on xfactor thats exactly what has happened. If the program just gave the money to charity then hey i would be watching.. but no.. It mostly goes in Mr C's fat wallet, and for that to be done through a box that sits in your living room i think thats the worst.

  • Comment number 16.

    dont dislike xfactor, dislike simon C.

    Simon says we are Silly for buying the alternative. Thats good enough for me....

  • Comment number 17.

    i am okay with cowell.. he has just made a load of money and is honest with people who are rubbish at singing...

    althou he's made himself look bad in saying that the campaign is all about hating him.. it says on the group that it is not a personal attack.

  • Comment number 18.

    Chill out, its just a bit of a laugh. Nobody thinks they are better than any one else etc, I think theres a bit of generalisation and assumptions being made there!

    Its just fun, and everyones talking about it surely its a good thing all round!

    By the way Fleet Foxes - Mykonos is a tune and by far would make a better xmas number one that either killing in the name or The Climb

  • Comment number 19.

    I like Rage Against The Machine and I wish them all the luck in getting to number 1 many years after the song was recorded and released.

    It'll be nice for people to discover the band, if they've not heard of them before.

    Rage > X Factor.

  • Comment number 20.

    It seems to me that, as much as a protest against x factor domination of the christmas no.1, it is more about making sure that the people who strongly dislike the whole institution of the x factor can make themselves heard. Regardless of whether it gets no.1 its place in the charts will show that there are alot of people who feel this way. Its also for alot of people a protest against pop music as a whole, and the lack of quality people have become accustomed to, but maybe thats coming more personally from me as a heavy metal fan, a genre in which would often be referred to as simply noise by many and it would be nice to make it clear that the feeling is mutual but im normally alot more respectfull towards different tastes.

    The criticism of this being a group of people effectively being told to be individuals is illogical. It is not so much the idea of people behaving individually that is important, but more acting against the status quo which; co-operation in order to have any effect.

    If individuals simply resign themselves to the fact that their opinion is in the minority and take a "thats life" attitude are affectively compliant in the persistance of the status quo, and in this way there can be no change.

    Probably more decisive than any other factor is this has only achieved success because people find the idea of something radically contrasting to the established norm being a christmas no.1 funny. People bought Bob the Builder's single versus a more serious offering for the same reasons. It may happen again, surely people can see the funny side in this?

    P.s I personally will most enjoy hearing it on the radio charts played by radio presenters who overate pop music so highly either grudgingly playing it, or pretending to rate it highly (it may be good for showing the opinions and mind sets of the public, but musically... come on?)

  • Comment number 21.

    I apologise for the occasionally lapses in gramma and spelling, but hope the point still comes across.

  • Comment number 22.

    yea wootang, good points made. anecdote to accompany your input: today i heard one of my house mates asking the other what this rage against the machine song was like.. the others response was 'oh, its just aaaaaaahhhhhhhh KILL EVERYONE, thats literally what it is'

    not only is the word literally being used as an intensive in a figurative expression (really hate how it has become fashionable).. but it shows how people can be so damn close minded. i listened to the climb, its not as good as the original and the original was generic at best.

  • Comment number 23.


    Nuff said, all your points answered and countered.

  • Comment number 24.

    'They think these people are easily-led. They may use words like "sheep" or "masses" or "plebs" or "chavs", and they believe themselves to be above such obvious mind-control.'

    Do they? Really? I have not seen the words "plebs" or "chavs" used at all in reference to this issue, except here, by you. The majority of those behind the campaign seem quite happy to *be* the "masses"; part of their point is surely that the majority of people don't like the x-factor.

    If I've seen any snobbery it's in the journos who go to pains to tell us all how wrong we are, how we are all just sheep too and how both RATM and Syco are part of Sony - which we all knew anyway, and a fact that completely misses the point.

    Don't try to make this an issue of class. It isn't. It is simply a large number of people from very different backgrounds who are bored of the x-factor and think it'd be amusing to have the not-very-christmassy Rage Against the Machine added to the list of normally insipid or irritating Christmas number ones.

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree with horridM the whole things just a bit of fun, how funny would it be to hear Rage Against The Machine as christmas no.1. Also it's good to see RATM getting a sort of revival at the moment their album is (as of today) number 1 in the Itunes Charts.

  • Comment number 26.

    Fraser McAlpine, you've just stereotyped a group of over 750,000 people and 'they' are the foolish snobs apparently... Maybe some of your best friends are 'they'?

  • Comment number 27.

    Hi HorridM,

    I really honestly have seen the word "plebs" and the word "chavs" being used to describe people who like the X Factor, as part of this debate. That's why those words are there. I could have also used the sentence "shoved down their throats" as that seems to appear often too.

    On the other hand, as you say, people have been acting sniffily towards Rage fans too, and that's not great either. So much for the season of goodwill to all men!

    Incidentally, am I the only person who can hear a similarity between the verse riff from 'Killing In The Name Of..' and the Grange Hill theme?

  • Comment number 28.

    To me this just seems really simple. Almost twenty million people tuned in to watch the final decision of X factor, almost half that number of votes were received. That sounds a lot like a 'vast majority' to me - the people have already spoken. They like X Factor (at the moment), it gave them almost 3 months of great entertainment, they bought into the contestants, the judges and everything else it stands for. If they now want the winners single to be number one that seems only fair, if they're not that bothered then that's fair too. But quite frankly, until someone else comes up with a better TV show format than those which Simon Cowell has created, that reel in as many viewers over as many weeks and which appeal to the majority of the viewing public, I think everyone should just quit criticising the programmes, the songs/acts and Simon Cowell.

  • Comment number 29.

    My word , I know of many a nursing home , where most of the residents sit down at the weekend and thoroughly enjoy watching X Factor . The average age is about 75-80 , and I would loathe the idea of these people being labelled "plebs" or "chavs ".

    Likewise I know many families of differing generations who like to watch X Factor , and would find the word "pleb" extremely offensive.

    I have many friends who have thoroughly enjoyed the programme , and just because of this fact , it gives no one the right to look down upon them and call them insulting names for liking a television show .

    The people who are using these words to make their case certainly DO NOT have my support .
    Everyone should have the right to enjoy whatever T.V programme they like , without being judged by predujice and bullying from others.

  • Comment number 30.

    I feel this blog is failing to understand the most important aspect of the campaign. There's a very good reason why so many people are getting behind it, and it's not just Cowell's personality, however objectionable we may find it.
    The people who want to derail the X-Factor bandwagon are those people in all those little local bands who have nowhere to play because the pubs are vanishing. They're the people who try desperately to set up local music events in the face of pig-headed licensing laws and enviromental rules that impose limiters that cut the power to their valve-based amp, only to restore it thirty seconds later and blow the thing because it had started to cool down.
    They're the people who get told week in, week out, that rock/ rap/ metal/ emo/ reggae/ jazz are damaging their hearing, making them antisocial, inciting homophobia or encouraging drugs and must be controlled or banned, when the feeling in their soul when they hear their favourite tracks tells them something quite different.
    They're the people who want desperately to hear something new, different and exciting, not the same old recycled dross. They miss John Peel, and fear the passing of Jools, for there may fall one of their last great champions.
    Of course they realise the irony in coming together like this in an organised campaign to buy a song whose chorus is 'F you, I won't do what you tell me'. Most of them can think of another track they'd prefer to be a Christmas No 1. But they know they'd never agree on which one, so they've picked common ground and stood on it, teeth bared. The mutterings against the bland started a few years ago, when a bunch of Finns in monster suits bewildered Eurovision. They got a lot louder last year, but the effort got split between fans of Cohen and Buckley. This year, it's a much more united shout.
    And if it fails this time around, you can bet next time we'll try all the harder.
    ADDENDUM: I got crumped by the filter the first time of posting despite self-censoring. Way to make the point for me, Auntie.

  • Comment number 31.

    Perhaps anyone who wants to be cynical should have listened to Rage on Five Live just before 9am today.

    They set out how they approve of what is happening and seemingly do not have any objections with their song being used in this way, quite the opposite in fact, they were grateful that a song of defiance was being used for people to relate to.

    Also, in terms of money, they are contributing what they receive to the UK charity Shelter, and many on the Facebook group are giving an equal amount to charity as they spend on the song.

    And anyway, this is not about money so any talk of hypocrisy is a red herring. It's all about music.

    Compare a song written by four musicians in the basement of an LA slum as an act of defiance to some hollywood producers types sitting around a table, contriving to make a 'single', then that being used as a cover version following a 3 month advertising campaign.

    Rage for number 1!

  • Comment number 32.

    "before they have even heard it"

    It's a cover song! It has been known for weeks it was the Hannah Montana song, I listened on YouTube, I didnt like it, and now I buy RATM.

    Take the power back...

  • Comment number 33.

    This whole thing is all rather silly isn’t it. I mean does anyone really care? Is it really all that important? Personally I think the biggest 'tragedy' about X-Factor's domination of the Christmas no.1 spot is that the songs are no longer about Christmas. As a response and a bit of a joke I’ve started a Facebook campaign to get Must Be Santa by Bob Dylan to the top spot. Let's put the Christmas back in Christmas No.1!

  • Comment number 34.

    It's a bit late, but I am WITH YOU ALL THE WAY, BROTHER/SISTER!

  • Comment number 35.

    Liked the anecdote flatknees. Also particularly agree with the sentiment: "so they've picked common ground and stood on it, teeth bared." In fact Majere's answer seems spot on from my point of view.

    I think its very much the case that the success so far of the single can very much be attributed to the large number of people who feel neither the x factor or popular music represents them and this provides the option to vote against the x factor.

    Rage against the machine serves as a good rallying point because otherwise no-one could agree which song it could be, especially within metal. It's the message that makes this song work as an act of rebellion, a vote against the x factor does not constitute hipocrasy.

    It would also seem that the idea of actually "saving" the chistmas number 1 is not a major influence, I am sure Im not alone in my apathy towards it, and Simon Cowel does have a point when he says they wernt any good before the X factor. For my part this is firstly a vote against pop music (My own personal opinion), secondly against the X factor and thirdly because I would love to see a christmas number one containing the word that ryhmes so well with duck.

    Obviously everyones got their own reasons

  • Comment number 36.


    You know what, every one of the people calling the RATM backers "snobs" are displaying an incredible amount of snobbery themselves. Instead of "oh, look at me, I hate manufactured pop music and will buy RATM as a protest against the sheep" it's "oh, look at me, I'm so clever I'm totally above all this nonsense, and I will condescend to all those involved because I'm so much cleverer than you all!"

    If the charts are democratic then that has to include organised campaigns like this. You can't have democratic charts and then say "oh, but it doesn't count if you are buying a song for reasons x, y or z, because I disagree with those reasons".

    Contempt for the chart? Disregard for public taste? Do you really think that hundreds of thousands of people would rush out and buy The Climb if it wasn't from some heavily-manipulated "reality" TV show? That's manipulation on a far grander scale than openly saying "hey, let's cause some mischief and buy RATM" on Facebook or Twitter.

    You argue that the public has a right to chose and then compain about the public choosing RATM. You argue that the public shouldn't be manipulated by a cheeky campaign, and then say "let the X Factor winner have their moment" as if that's some sort of God-given (or Cowell-given) right that a karaoke poppet from a heavily-orchestrated TV show gets to have the Christmas number one, and how dare the public interfere with that.

    The massive publicity that the X Factor gives to the single it releases does as much, if not more, to skew public taste in the charts as the campaign to get RATM to number one. Let's face it - if there was no TV show, and you played The Climb to all those millions of people, how many would rush out and buy it because they liked the song? A tiny fraction of those who will buy it this week - they are buying it because of the show, because they think Joe's a nice little lad. They are buying into something but it's certainly not the music. To suggest that that's fine, but people buying into RATM for a laugh is to be sneered at, is as pathetic as you're accusing the campaigners of being.

    Frankly, all the whingeing about RATM is coming from old-school media like newspapers, magazines and TV networks. Are they afraid that this is highlighing the power of new media - the power for "ordinary" people to push their own agendas and make things happen without the approval of the powers that be? If a Radio 1 DJ had started this campaign you can bet that it would have all been hunky dory. Now it's just left for some of them to jump on the bandwagon because the masses are making things happen for themselves. Whether RATM gets to number one or not, the mere fact that all this happened through online spontaneity speaks volumes for the power of a single idea to capture the imagination through free online media, potentially toppling a multi-million pound advert (sorry, reality TV show) in the process.

    Power to the people. Now that's something RATM would approve of. I hear they're going to donate some of the unexpected royalties to projects in the UK that help young people develop music skills. If only Cowell did that, huh?

  • Comment number 37.

    Seems to be a 3 way split if it's good / bad / who cares?

    Personally, I think it'll be a hoot if RATM makes it to no. 1.

    Simon Cowell said it'd be a shame if someones career was ruined by a stupid campaign. Shows how much faith he's got in Joe's career then, if one song is it . . .

    The songs are out there, let the people vote with their wallets - that's what counts.

    Intrigiuing to hear Shelagh Fogarty urge people to buy the X Factor single. Impartial be damned, eh?

    Christmas is no guarantee of quality music - for every great Xmas song (you know them) there's a sack of cack lurking.

    I think that a number of people are tired that the X Factor is just one big relentless media push to the inevitablility of a end-of-year number one, and it's treated with the huge reverence that we get now for 'reality' led programmes.

    19 million people are reckoned to have seen the X Factor final. That leaves some 42 million who didn't. So we shouldn't assume the X Factor is for all.

    It's also interesting how many people have cried 'foul', 'unfair', mean-spirited','cynical', etc etc over this campaign. Why? No-one has to buy it . . . just like no-one has to buy the X Factor single. Was Simon Cowell unfair when he persuaded Mariah Carey to ditch Strictly Come Dancing for the X Factor?

    No one should assume anything - a little unpredictablity is a great thing. Or do we always want the same in everything?

    And did no-one at 5 Live know that RATM were once thrown off an American program for inverting the US flag when a politician they disliked was on it, despite being warned not to? Have you not heard the lyrics about NOT doing what you're told, in no uncertain terms?

    Hey ho . . .

  • Comment number 38.

    Slightly off topic, but am I the only one who really doesn't understand all the fuss about Mumford & Sons? They just seem a bit dreary to me.

    RATM for number 1 all the way though, anything that stops the X Factor monopoly is good. Also, can't remember who wrote it sorry, but whoever it was that said they should put X Factor on in summer is a genius and I would like to shake their hand.

    Did anyone else think it was funny RATM swearing on 5 Live after they were asked not to, with the line "**** you I won't do what you tell me!"??

  • Comment number 39.

    Ditto re Mumford & Sons, but hey if you like it, good for you.

  • Comment number 40.

    for me its the way their songs are so... soaring.. and im not usually one for lyrics but this guy has made me take note... any other fans of Owl City?

  • Comment number 41.

    It's real music versus reality television.
    It's long living music versus 18 months of generic catchy remakes.
    It's writers versus kareoke.
    It's personal musical achievment versus manufactured artists.
    It's creation versus repetition.
    It's a band of musicians versus a single decent singer.
    It's a song with a message versus a song with a tune.
    It's inovation versus playing to the lowest common denominator.

    It's got nothing to do with Joe, he seems like a decent kid and I hope he does well.
    But do we really wan't all our music to be like the X-Factor stuff? Something that most people like, few actually dislike and is almost always the same.
    No, we want our music to be differnt have influences from all over the place. I wan't music to mean something, to get a reaction instead of just follow a formula.

  • Comment number 42.

    So here we are on Friday , 2 days before the Christmas chart is announced on Sunday.

    And yes , the people are speaking in large numbers , and we may not be having an X Factor singer at Number 1 .

    People who were originally happy for Rage to be in the top ten , may need to set their sights a little higher . The momentum behind this Christmas snowball is building and as it gets bigger going down the hill,the 5ft 4in singer with a lovely singing voice may be overwhelmed by an avalanche.

    Before , we all get too excited , let's take you back 32 years , back to the lovely time of 1977...

    The Queen was celebrating her Silver Jubilee and for many it was a time of national celebration.

    However , gradually building was the punk rock movement , that in some peoples eyes thrived on anarchy and anti-establishment beliefs .

    The Sex Pistols had achieved a number 38 hit with their debut single Anarchy in the UK .

    They had just signed to Virgin Records and their second single was the anthemic God Save the Queen , which was not very complimentary about our reigning monarch.
    The song contained the lyrics..

    "she ain't no human being "
    "no future "

    It was all very rebellious but wrapped up in a song that was a fantastic concoction of raw power , spitting lyrics , melody and a biting message.
    The band promoted the song by performing it on a boat , near the Tower of London going along the River Thames . There were some arrests because of this , but the song was already connecting with a lot of people.

    The song , God Save the Queen peaked at NUMBER 2 , and was held off the top spot by Rod Stewarts I don't wanna talk about it .

    There was a lot of controversy then , as many people felt that it was the rightful and truthful number 1 , and there had been an "inside job " to ensure that GOD Save the QUEEN by The Sex Pistols was not number 1 in the year of her silver jubilee .

    This brings us nicely back to 2009 , and one of the most exciting battles for The Christmas Number 1 Single for many a year , and if Rage Against The Machine sell more copies than anyone else ,THEY ARE the rightful number 1.

    The most important thing in all this is...


  • Comment number 43.

    According to NME.com RATM are in the lead but the gap (as of 18th December) has narrowed to around 9,000 copies, basically if you want to see RATM at number 1 you've got to keep buying.

  • Comment number 44.

    The tabloids are loving this too !

    Everyday this week , I have read a newspaper , there is an update on the RAGE V JOE sales flash..

    Great stuff !

  • Comment number 45.

    Someone said to me the other day..

    "Oh I hate the way , the last few Xmas's have all been X Factor number 1 's , there were great Xmas NUMBER 1'S before that ! "

    " My GOD ! " I exclaimed...

    " Have you forgotton about Bob the Builder and Mr Blobby ? ! "

  • Comment number 46.

    spirit... i dont feel as though i hav been brought nicely back to 2009 with your story.

    buy killing in the name of. your purchase could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

  • Comment number 47.

    As we enjoy the last saturday before the official chart is announced tomorrow , I can see one problem that might put a spanner in the works of the rage machine . The rage organisers have forgotten to make the cd single available in the shops . Thats right , on the busiest day for shopping , JOE S single is available to buy in the shops but the RAGE one is down load only . Is this short sighted and an oversight that gives JOE victory ? As margins are so tight ,to forget this on the main shopping day before the chart could be costly. Lets see . . . . .

  • Comment number 48.

    Spirit, I fear you are right, last I heard RATM were 9000 ahead of Joe. This was yesterday, I think today will make all the difference and Joe will eventually finish about 15000 ahead of them.

    However, this will not be a complete disaster. This campaign has set a precedent. The people have spoken, X Factor Xmas number 1's are no longer as popular as they once were, and I think Simon Cowell's comments have not helped his image, to me at least he seems a bit Scrooge-like.

    Next Xmas, lets have another, similar campaign. Maybe a new song, or maybe a band get involved and re-release an old single, putting CD's in shops as well as downloads to even the odds. Perhaps all the artists who dislike (not hate, dislike. OK hate as well) X Factor can collaborate Band Aid style, only instead of saving the 3rd world, they save our charts from X Factor.

  • Comment number 49.

    The X Factor single may be in the shops but Killing in the Name has lots of different versions so fans can buy it more than once.

  • Comment number 50.

    ... i think we have done it.. waiting eagerly for 6:55pm... shame i am in the middle east at the moment so 10:55pm.. teeth brushing will have to wait...

  • Comment number 51.

    Yeah , I feel your desperation in Dubai Flatknees !

    One thing is for sure , the Rage Against THE Machine rallying call has added intrigue , excitement , passion , mystery , empathy and huge interest to the Christmas Number 1 of 2009 !

    I think X Factor is an extremely well made family entertainment show , which is of the highest calibre and is enjoyed by literally millions of people , and like it or not , has been the most watched t.v show of the year.

    However , when people say let the X factor winner have their number 1 , like it is some kind of right and natural order of things , well these people have completely mis - judged the opposing feelings that are growing amongst other music lovers , and WHY this RAGE campaign emerged .
    It emerged because of the people who said , let the X Factor winner have their number 1!

    To these people, there was a clear message :

    "**** YOU , I won't do what you tell me ! "

    As an immense music lover , the last few days have been fascinating , and all the opinions above , have been great to read , and the tabloids and the music magazines have embraced the battle , and each day I must have discussed this issue a hundred times with differing people . Yes , for a music fan , it's THAT gripping.

    There have been some excellent points made here, and whether Rage makes it to number 1 or not , I predict 2 things for next year....

    1) X Factor will be a very successful T.V programme watched by millions in 2010 .
    2) There WILL be another campaign to stop the X Factor winner getting the 2010 Christmas number 1 .

    Roll on Christmas 2010 !!!! HO HO HO !!

    In the meantime , 7 hours to go , to find out how much damage the RAGING MACHINE has done to the 2009 Christmas chart !!

  • Comment number 52.

    Can't wait to hear the results, I've been searching all over the internet for some kind of leaked information but so far there's been nothing useful.

  • Comment number 53.

    You will have to come closer Harry , I need to whisper......

  • Comment number 54.

    *Whispers *

    Well one thing is for sure Harry , the Rage single was downloaded more times in the last week than Joe's song , that we DO know .

    However , with Joe's single being in the shops since Wednesday , and yesterday being the busiest shopping day of the year , the big question is .. did Joe sell enough in the shops to make up the download gap ?

    A big factor also , is the weather around the country yesterday .
    Was the day fine enough in many places for people to get to the shops ?
    It was lovely in Bristol , but I am aware it was treacherous in many other places , and this may have stopped people getting to the shops in some places .

    Yes ,when margins are small , everything is a factor.
    I still feel , that if the Rage single was available in the shops on the busiest shopping day of the year , then they would be a CLEAR number 1.

    3 hours to go.....

    (There is no truth in the rumour that Curtain Jerker , Horrid M , Flatknees , Joe Strummer , Catman , Harry the dog , Steve dave 86 , Colonicus , and Majere were seen operating an industrial sized SNOW MACHINE ,and causing a blizzard in the North East yesterday , in an attempt to stop Joe's hardcore fans from buying his single in the shops !)

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi my first post but just want to add my thoughts, this is a really interesting and well thought out blog and has been a great pleasure to read, at least people have managed to keep it civil and there hasn't been any personal attacks unlike some other boards/blogs.

    I can see why Killing in the name of was chosen to be the voice of protest it is if nothing an extremely powerful message of not bowing down and very tongue in cheek way of pulling interest in from all walks of life. Loads of people saying F... you I won't do what you tell me yet all doing exactly that by sending a huge collective bird to the man!

    I must admit that I was totally addicted to the first ever reality programme like X Factor way back when, it was called something else, you know the one that Hearsay won ;) The old grey matter has fogged that piece of information from my mind.

    Seriously though after what 10 years of this kind of format I am so bored with it, I never did get this kind of music to me it is bland but each to their own, what I do love is something aggressive something that makes a statement and for me RATM have always done this. Something that isn't afraid to say exactly how it is feeling and doesn't care if people don't like it, if you don't like it simple turn over the station and don't buy it.

    I have had the pleasure of seeing them live quite a few times and their shows are always energetic and full of emotion.

    I am all for getting a bit of fun back into the Christmas number 1 race, even if Rage don't get to number one people will always remember this year and hopefully years to come won't be so predictable and assume that what ever wins X-Factor will automatically make it to number 1...

    Mr Cowell to assume is to make an a.. of u and me ;)

    Great blog, may the winner be gracious in their victory but I have a feeling one side won't.


  • Comment number 56.

    Ha ha , cheers Nova.

    Talk about Nova caine for the soul !

    1.5 HOURS TO GO ......

  • Comment number 57.

    Is Rage Against the Machine's actually the better song or are people just being spiteful? Its also a bit ironic...being told to stop doing what your told to do by the masses........yet by doing that your doing what your being told by people you dont even know! why dont people actually buy music that they want......if Joe is number 1 good for him.....We're a nation who had Bob the Builder at number 1.....surely thats worse! Stop being spiteful.....just be happy....;surely there are worse things to worry about in the world....starving children, global warming, homeless people...........get a grip on reality!

  • Comment number 58.

    Hi Sarah Jane , we are 11 minutes away from arguably one of the most exciting/controversial charts of the year !

    Today , this debate has reached fever pitch , and to many music lovers , this IS a really big deal !

    Everyone will have their own individual feelings on the unfolding events , and the result in approximately 10 minutes .This site is called Chart Blog , so I feel it gives everyone on here a right to feel passionate about their views on this , so long as we are all polite and respecting of differing views .

    8 minutes to go ....

  • Comment number 59.

    The key question is , did Curtain Jerker's snow machine do it's job ?


  • Comment number 60.

    This has to be the first time in years that I've actually cared about who's number 1. Go RATM!

  • Comment number 61.

    Even Scott Mills is getting extremely excited and saying that it is the most exciting chart he has ever done !

    3 minutes to go..... Lady Gaga's number 3 , and there are only 2 songs left !!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Spirit.....thats exactly why people should buy the songs they want....not just Joe or Rage.....who I happen to think are both quite cool!

  • Comment number 63.

    Why Won't GAGA finish. I need to know who's number 1!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.


  • Comment number 66.

    Sarah Jane. u av a point. dey aren't the only 2 songs people can buy and there are more serious thing.
    Buy what u want 2 hear

  • Comment number 67.

    Hold your breath ....

  • Comment number 68.

    God ! Scott is draggin it out ....

  • Comment number 69.

    JOE is number 2!

  • Comment number 70.


  • Comment number 71.

    GO RATM! Seems like those sales of the Live version last night really paid off!

  • Comment number 72.

    BEST CHRISTMAS CHART EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    Harry can I cyber hug you ?

  • Comment number 74.

    Sure, but I need to lie down after all that excitement.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ugh ! Not sure I want to hug you with both of us lying down...

    Actually , Rage are number 1... what the heck ?

    Come here you ......

  • Comment number 76.

    Thanks Harry , that was fantastic !

  • Comment number 77.

    How are we gonna top this next year?

  • Comment number 78.

    History was made tonight , with the RAGE song being the highest ever download sales for a Christmas Number 1 ever , and the only song to be Christmas NUMBER 1 on downloads alone .

    The key points that have come out of this for me are...

    1) From this moment on Simon Cowell will realise that a Christmas Number 1 single is not a given , for the X Factor winner , and the winners song needs to be better , spontaneous , exciting , uplifting and the old template of safe , bland and cautious may need to be altered , as many music loving people have Irritable Cowell Syndrome when it comes to songs laden in treacle , syrup , key changes and predictability !

    2) This is the main reason why the Rage campaign started , and the campaign organisers should be applauded for getting Rage to NUMBER 1 , as rightly or wrongly , they gauged the mood of the nation to such an effect , that they galvanised hundreds of thousands of people to unite in a common cause and emerge victorious .

    3) Joe McElderry is one hell of a nice gentleman , has a good singing voice , did well to win X Factor , and deserves this success . This was not a personal slight to him , and he will come back stronger and move on to other challenges .I wish him well. He has a lovely warm personality , and has a big likeability factor.

    4) The tabloids will go crazy on this story tomorrow , as it is big news , and a lot of people in the country have an opinion on it.

    5) All of this may bring Simon and X factor to produce an even better and bigger series in 2010 , which will have a lot of the nation talking again.

    6) Waiting for the X Factor winner next year , will be another campaign with a different song . The "real music " people did it in 2009 , so hey , a precedent has been set , and yes , they know they can do it , so there is no doubt in my mind , that they will try it again in 2010. AGAIN , THIS WILL ADD FANTASTIC EXCITEMENT !

    Wow !
    What an exciting day for music ?

    How does everyone feel about the outcome of todays chart , and what will happen in Christmas 2010 ?

  • Comment number 79.

    Joe not winning is disgraceful!
    you can't even sing along to rage- it's rubbish. Fair enough if the competition was between a good song and it won but it wasn't and was not fair on joe.
    Joe should know he is a much better singer than rage and keep his head held high- he deserveed to win (:

  • Comment number 80.

    You can sing along to RATM check out any live show videos for proof and the songs not even about great singing it's about a message and that's what makes it powerful.

    RATM also wrote the own song which has been known as a classic for at least 10 years now and anyway no need to feel sorry for Joe he'll probably be number 1 next week.

  • Comment number 81.

    I was just thinking that Harry , who will be number 1 next week ?

    Probably Joe , or is there another campaign for the New Year Number 1 ?


  • Comment number 82.

    Right off to watch Avatar in 3-d now.

    When Curtains comes on here , can someone tell him that the snow machine needs to go back to a Mr S. Claus in Lapland , by the 24th of December ...


    What an exciting day !

    Keep those comments flowing !

  • Comment number 83.

    So glad RATM won, stick it to the man!

  • Comment number 84.

    Just got home after listening to the Xmas Chart Show - normally the most important of the year, and this year with the added interest of a rather manufactured debate.
    I listened for about 90 minutes, and there was no mention why (poor) Reggie wasn't helming it.
    I have my own opinions, but what's the official reason?

  • Comment number 85.

    Well, I'm not sure I can be bothered to trail through 83 long comments so what follows may be irrelevant.

    As a Geordie, I felt like I should have always wanted Joe to win. I didn't though, I wanted Stacey Soloman to win - and I'm still not fully over the fact she didn't. Actually, scratch that, I wanted Rachel Adedaji (sp?) to win. But when it got down to the final, I wanted Joe to win over Ollie - Geordie is thicker than water.

    Now, as for this business of Christmas number one, I don't really care. Yes it's very "Stick it to the man" for Rage to 'win it' but then again, in Years to come, on The Hit's Christmas Number One Music Video Countdowns, it's gunna look very odd. Although I'm sure it will provide some great anecdote for the narrator.

    I think that Joe deserved to win it, he's a nice enough lad and I think I'm safe in saying that this was his only ever chance at Number One - I don't see him having a Chart Career. He's so unsexy - He's about 12.

    Maybe The Climb will be Number One next week, It probably will be but it's lost its allure now.

    Sorry Joe


  • Comment number 86.

    I always said that the X-Factor single was a total number 2. Fnar fnar.

    A Raging Christmas to one and all, especially our friends at Syco. I guess that young Joe will have to EARN his "moment" another time, Mr Cowell.

  • Comment number 87.

    To be honest, I'd have prefered it if Gaga was number 1.

    Rage was the wrong song choice (I absolutely LOVE the song before somebody tries that one) and the X Factor song sounded awful.

    "**** you I won't do what you tell me". Oh but I will buy that song.

  • Comment number 88.

    "you can't even sing along to rage- it's rubbish"


  • Comment number 89.

    I can't wait for Rage to appear on Top Of The Pops at Christmas (if they even do).

  • Comment number 90.

    For some reason I have put my blog entry about this on the Rybak thread. D'oh! Anyway, basically, I think, you know, stuff.

  • Comment number 91.

    The results of yesterdays chart :

    RAGE approx 500,000 copies

    JOE approx 450,000 copies

    So , quite a victory in the end , and Simon Cowell saying he took things for granted.

    This has set a precedent , and I look forward to a vibrant 2010 , where everyone ups their game !

  • Comment number 92.

    I still think Curtain's post at number 1 is extremely brilliant .

  • Comment number 93.

    I have just been informed that Rage Against the Machine will perform on the Top of the Pops Christmas Special via video .

    Great stuff eh ?

  • Comment number 94.

    I also hear that Rage are currently in talks to stage a frree concert in England in 2010 , as a way of saying thank you tp the people who made them Number 1 !

    How cool is this ?

  • Comment number 95.

    Hope its at Wembly! Tbh I'd pay to see them. They could donate the money to the artist development thing they were talking about.

  • Comment number 96.

    I heard about the free concert too. Should do it at Wembley just to make the whole situation that much better.

    And fill it, of course.

  • Comment number 97.

    Most of my posts are brilliant. It's just the ones I put here that are usually disappointing.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hey Curtains , your posts have truly shone here !

  • Comment number 99.

    For some strange reason Rage against the Machine are still at number 1 on Itunes.

  • Comment number 100.

    Also I'm taking 100 while I'm at it.


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