Another race to Christmas number one

This time last year, people across the country did what nobody before them did – they said ‘no’ to the traditional Christmas Number One.

Over 800,000 people joined together to take a stand against the Simon Cowell dominated festive music market. In a single week, over half a million people downloaded Rage Against The Machine’s classic track, “Killing In The Name”.

The track beat Cowell’s X Factor winner, Joe McElderry to the title, raising over £100,000 for the housing charity Shelter in the process.

The last time that an X Factor winner did not gain the Christmas crown was in 2004, when the charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” reached number one. This year, it seems, people are trying to continue the trend and bring an end to the X Factor monopoly.

Numerous viral campaigns have cropped up on social networking sites. Some of the tracks that people are supporting include Slipknot/Stone Sour’s front man, Corey Taylor’s “XM@$”. A track which is also being backed by the likes of Metal Hammer and Kerrang! magazines. Watch the official video here.


Corey Taylor gives his thoughts on Christmas with his own festive track. Photo: Karri Wells

Another track being supported is The Trashmen’s, “Surfin’ Bird” after “Family Guy” adopted the song.

One campaign that is being taken more seriously is ‘Cage Against the Machine’ – a reference to John Cage’s piece of conceptual art, “4:33” which was to record the sound of an orchestra not playing.

The ‘song’ was recorded on December 6th by the self-proclaimed ‘Anti-Cowell’ artists. Among them is ex-Libertines singer, Pete Doherty, politically motivated musician Billy Bragg and lyrical poet Scroobius Pip.

The Christmas number one will be decided on the figures for single sales between 11th-18th December. The elusive number one spot will be revealed on the evening of Sunday 19th.

Some of the biggest names in modern music have held the number one spot over Christmas, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Tom Jones. This has led to some people claiming that these campaigns are devaluing the esteem that the achievement carries.

Last year, Rage Against the Machine were selected as an attempt to show a middle finger to the manufactured, talent show nature of pop music. “Killing In The Name” was lyrically, emotionally and spiritually a message from those who did not want the title to be an inevitable gift-wrapped claim for the winner of the X Factor.

Now, the songs that are being touted for number one don’t have a message, they’re just simply not from Cowell’s empire. They have become just as much a novelty piece as “Mr Blobby” in 1993 or “Can We Fix It?” by Bob the Builder in 2000.

Perhaps these attempts have devalued what the Rage Against The X Factor campaign accomplished, but there’s still something to be said for the general dislike for reality television stealing Christmas. The Cowell mechanism might not stop, but it’s good to be a rebel once in a while.

8 Responses to Another race to Christmas number one

  1. steve says:

    bird bird bird
    bird is the word

  2. Gareth Milner says:

    Considering the Cage campaign has around 20k members, and the surfin bird (bird is the word) campaign has over 600,000+, i dont see how the cage campaign is the serious one!

  3. Beth says:

    Currently Surfin’ Bird is number 11 in the downloads chart – where is Cage?! Nowhere! Support the Bird! Spread the word!

  4. Billy says:

    A-well-a everybody’s heard about the bird
    Bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s the word

    we can do it! Surfin’ Bird for number one.

  5. Jo says:

    The Bird is the only word this xmas!!

  6. The Trashmen says:

    Bird IS the Word, download and defeat teh X Factor!

  7. Daniel Edwards says:

    It was my understanding that everyone had heard, and clearly in this instance you’ve got it all back to front!

  8. noizes says:

    The campaign for 4’33” is serious as it rejects novelty in favour of the message. The message itself is manifold. You can read it as a charity drive over the commercial machine. You can read it as the ultimate rejection of reality TV lead karaoke hits (if we can get ambient noise to number one we are obviously not concerned with the purported quality of the product of the commercial machine, literally anything is conceptually better). You can read it as support for Cage’s genius and his message that all sound can qualify as music. You can read it as a respite or oasis in a hectic, crass season of indulgence. You could also read it as a bit of a laugh; Cage thought that laughter was a valid musical sound just as any other after all. Pick one and then buy it. What’s 49p toward charity? Not even a lottery ticket, but with more chance of winning.