Rage Against The Machine beats Joe McElderry to Christmas Number One
It sounds really quite petty and spiteful, but it is all really thoroughly honourable and perfectly democratic.
There was a certain expectation that Joe McElderry’s ‘The Climb’ would be the 2009 Christmas Number One; a sort of divine right coronation of the anointed winner of X-Factor reality TV pop. And so an internet-driven protest based around the accursed and damned Facebook set out to challenge the omnipotence of Simon Cowell and the hegemony of Syco and Sony Music’s manufactured pop which mesmerises the TV-addicted masses every Saturday and Sunday evening and persuades them that what they watch is what they might like to hear at Christmas.
And it has worked for four years.
But X-Factor Christmas songs are not like the ones Cranmer used to know,
What about Him?
Not that the ‘song’ by Rage Against The Machine is about Him, of course. He hasn’t had a look-in since Sir Cliff gave us the delightful ‘Saviour’s Day’ in 1990.
And ‘Killing in the Name’ is a quite dreadful, expletive-ridden, most un-Christmassy racket which is as far removed from music as politicians are from the plight of the people.
But if Joe McElderry can be created by Syco, forged by Cowell and packaged by Sony as a Christmas commodity, why cannot a group by the name of Rage Against The Machine be created ex nihilo, forged by Facebook and packaged by the new democratic media?
Their 'song' may be truly awful, but its beauty lies in the rebellion; its authenticity in the protestant spirit; its integrity in the little man conquering the Goliath that is the modern music machine.
Cranmer would like to make it clear that he has absolutely nothing against Mr McElderry (or Mr Cowell), and would like to say that the X-Factor winner has an undoubted Christmassy voice which is infinitely preferable to the din of Rage Against The Machine. And His Grace is loath to deprive either Mr McElderry or Mr Cowell of a Christmas present.
But this is people-power: the rough and raw laity versus the slick high priest of the dark arts of music promotion.
One wonders why the people can be so organised about something as trivial as the Christmas No1, but not quite so passionately strategic in their politics.
Perhaps the reason lies in the concealed reality behind this chart battle. For the supreme irony is that both Joe McElderry and Rage Against the Machine are signed to Epic Records, which is part of Sony BMG.
As far as the recording colossus is concerned, they win either way.
So if your motive in downloading Rage Against The Machine was to humble the Sony behemoth, you have failed.
And seeking to wipe the smile off Simon Cowell’s face or deprive Joe McElderry of an instant Number One is indeed a little spiteful.
Perhaps this is why the people cannot be bothered to protest, rise up, and democratise their politics. Sony is a metaphor for the European Union: its tentacles are everywhere, its fingers are in every pie and all roads lead to Rome.