Our friends in the UK take their holiday songs very seriously! The race for Christmas #1 is an annual cultural tradition there, as is placing bets on who will prevail. And those who have prevailed over the past few years have been the winners of the UK’s X Factor (think American Idol x 1000). Simon Cowell’s leveraged that show’s clout to dominate (ruin?) the race time and again, but this year Cowell’s manufactured karaoke crap du jour faces a real threat from a Christmas classic: Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name.” Over the past weeks a Facebook group has started a campaign (called Rage Against The X Factor) to dislodge the reality show’s vice grip on the honor by playfully championing RATM’s anti-establishment anthem in opposition to X-phile Joe McElderry’s “The Climb.” The race comes down to sales, and while Rage is on track to best the Factor flavor of the month, today McElderry’s single finally gets a physical release (it’s just been downloads until now), which is expected to give it a sizable boost. However it turns out, the quotes from Cowell and Rage guitarist Tom Morello are entertaining.
Tom’s publicly supporting the online effort to take the power back, saying that “Killing In The Name” winning would be a “wonderful dose of anarchy,” and offering some rationale. Via BBC:
The one thing about the X Factor show, much like our own American Idol, is if you’re a viewer of the show you get to vote for one contestant or the other, but you don’t really get to vote against the show itself until now … It’s this machinery that puts forward a particular type of music which represents a particular kind of listener … There are a lot of people who don’t feel represented by it and this Christmas in the UK they’re having their say.
For Simon’s part, he believes that the Xmas #1s were suffering in quality before he got involved, and that he’s helping sales of an ailing industry and thereby “done everyone a favour.” And in an interview with NME, Simon says the Facebook campaign is “stupid,” “cynical,” and “very Scrooge.” He must not know that Morello’s promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from this “unexpected windfall” to a charity benefiting the musical careers of British children. Total Dickensian asshole, that guy.
Whichever song has the most sales by the Sunday before Christmas (12/20, this year) is the winner. Shit just got real.